YouTube TV’s carriage deal with The Walt Disney Co. expires Friday, and YouTube TV said that if a blackout occurs, it will give subscribers a $15 price cut while content such as Grey's Anatomy and SportsCenter is unavailable.
Disney began warning YouTube TV subscribers of a potential blackout Monday. The currency agreement expires Friday at 11:49 p.m. ET and covers ABC’s stations, the ESPN networks, the Disney channels, the FX networks, National Geographic channels and Freeform.
“Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution has a highly successful track record of negotiating such agreements with providers of all types and sizes across the country and is committed to working with Google to reach a fair, market-based agreement,” Disney said in a statement. “We are optimistic that we can reach a deal and continue to provide their YouTube TV customers with our live sporting events and news coverage plus kids, family and general entertainment programming.”
In a blog post, YouTube TV similarly told employees that its deal with Disney was up and that negotiations were taking place.
“We haven't been able to reach an equitable agreement yet, so we wanted to give you an early heads up so that you can understand your choices,” YouTube TV said.
YouTube TV said it was asking Disney for the same rates that other services of similar size pay.
“If Disney offers us equitable terms, we’ll renew our agreement with them. However, if we are unable to reach a deal by Friday, the Disney-owned channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will decrease our monthly price by $15, from $64.99 to $49.99 (while this content remains off our platform)."
YouTube TV made a similar discount offer in September when its deal with NBCUniversal was about to run out. NBCU and YouTube TV eventually reached an agreement without a blackout occurring.
Worth keeping in mind: Google’s YouTube TV is one of the largest of the virtual multichannel video programming distributors. Disney owns another large vMVPD in Hulu Plus Live TV. If YouTubeTV loses Disney programming, it could drive customers to Hulu. ■
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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.