YouTube TV Cuts Fees After Losing ESPN, Other Disney-Owned Channels In Failed Negotiations

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
December 18, 2021 Updated: December 18, 2021

Google’s YouTube TV has lost over a dozen Disney-owned channels, including ABC and ESPN after the two companies failed to strike a deal in last-minute contract renewal negotiations.

The two companies said in separate statements Friday that the negotiations fell through and the Disney-owned channels would be dropped from the YouTube TV streaming service starting Dec. 18.

YouTube said in a blog post that it had held “good faith” negotiations with Disney for months but that, “unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to reach an equitable agreement before our existing one expired,” and that Disney’s channels are no longer available on the Google-owned platform.

Subscribers to YouTube TV will see their monthly fee drop by $15 to $49.99 while the Disney-owned content remains off the platform as a consequence of the failed negotiations.

“We know this is frustrating news for our customers, and not what we wanted. We will continue conversations with Disney to advocate on your behalf in hopes of restoring their content on YouTube TV,” the company said.

“If Disney offers us equitable terms, we’ll renew our agreement with them,” YouTube TV added.

Disney said in a statement to Variety that YouTube negotiators “declined to reach a fair deal with us based on market terms and conditions.”

“We stand ready to reach an equitable agreement with Google as quickly as possible in order to minimize the inconvenience to YouTube TV viewers by restoring our networks. We hope Google will join us in that effort,” Disney told the outlet.

The two firms warned subscribers earlier in the week of a possible breakdown in negotiations over extending a contract for YouTube to carry Disney’s channels, which besides ESPN and ABC’s stations include National Geographic channels, Freeform, and the FX networks.

Disagreement between the two companies centered on money, with YouTube TV claiming Disney said it should receive higher compensation for the Google-owned platform to carry its channels.

“Our ask to Disney, as with all our partners, is to treat YouTube TV like any other TV provider—by offering us the same rates that services of a similar size pay, across Disney’s channels for as long as we carry them,” YouTube TV said.

The spat with Disney is the latest carriage deal confrontation involving YouTube TV. Earlier in the fall, it had a similar dispute with Comcast Corporation’s NBCUniversal, and last week it settled simmering differences with Roku that saw YouTube TV removed from the Roku platform.

Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'