NBCUniversal is warning viewers that YouTube TV subscribers could be blacked out of NBCU programming because of a failure to renew their carriage agreement, setting up a battle between Comcast, which owns NBCU, and Google, which owns YouTube TV.
Google said that if it gets equitable terms, it will renew its agreement with NBCU. Otherwise, subscribers will get a discount for the duration of a blackout, which could begin Thursday.
In a statement, NBCU said it is seeking fair rates from Google for YouTube TV.
“Unfortunately, Google is refusing to make a deal at these fair rates and is willing to withhold entertainment, news and sports programming from their paying customers,” NBCU said. "NBCUniversal feels a responsibility to inform our fans that they are at risk of losing their favorite shows if Google continues with their demands.”
Google said it wants NBCU to treat YouTube TV like other TV providers. “In other words, for the duration of our agreement, YouTube TV seeks the same rates that services of a similar size get from NBCU so we can continue offering YouTube TV to members at a competitive and fair price,” Google said.
"If we are unable to reach a deal by Thursday, the NBCU lineup of channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will decrease our monthly price by $10, from $64.99 to $54.99 (while this content remains off our platform)," Google said, adding "you can sign up for NBC’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service, Peacock, which they offer for $4.99/month to continue watching NBCU content, such as Sunday Night Football.”
NBCU is notifying viewers with crawls, digital advertising and a message during Sunday Night Football.
NBCU noted that it has rarely been involved in carriage agreement disputes that have resulted in its programming going dark.
It said it was the only media company to offer YouTube subscribers a portfolio of entertainment, Hispanic programming, news and sports.
NBCU also noted that the timing would be particularly bad for viewers who would miss the start of a new fall primetime season and the early part of the NFL season.
Here is YouTube TV's statement from the YouTube blog:
We know you love watching Sunday Night Football, spending your weeknights with Jimmy Fallon, and binge watching Law and Order: SVU. That's why we've been working to renew our deal with NBCUniversal to continue carrying their content on YouTube TV. Since our agreement expires on Thursday, Sept. 30, and we haven't yet been able to reach an equitable agreement, we wanted to give you an early heads up so you understand your choices.
Our ask is that NBCU treats YouTube TV like any other TV provider. In other words, for the duration of our agreement, YouTube TV seeks the same rates that services of a similar size get from NBCU so we can continue offering YouTube TV to members at a competitive and fair price.
If NBCU offers us equitable terms, we’ll renew our agreement with them. However, if we are unable to reach a deal by Thursday, the NBCU lineup of channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will decrease our monthly price by $10, from $64.99 to $54.99 (while this content remains off our platform). You can sign up for NBC’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service, Peacock (opens in new tab), which they offer for $4.99/month to continue watching NBCU content, such as Sunday Night Football.
While we would love every member to continue to stay with our service, we understand that you may still choose to pause or cancel your membership. We want to make YouTube TV flexible, so members can pause or cancel anytime. We will give you updates as negotiations continue.
NBCU is an important partner for us and as you can imagine, this is not the outcome that we want. We’re still in active conversations with NBCU and are hopeful we can get past this impasse to keep their content available on YouTube TV.
Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.
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