It looks like YouTube just won’t stop fighting with broadcasters and streaming platforms this year. YouTube’s latest squabble with Disney over YouTube TV, however, might really feel like a punch in the gut because of the amount of content it’s losing.
On midnight on Saturday, YouTube announced in a blog post that it had failed to reach a new deal with Disney to keep its content on YouTube TV, its live TV streaming service with more than 85 channels, before its current agreement expired on Dec. 17. As a result, YouTube TV will lose 17 Disney-owned channels, including big names like ESPN, National Geographic, and FX, as well as at least eight local ABC stations.
YouTube stated that it would lower its monthly price for subscribers by $15, from $64.99 to $49.99, while the content remains off its platform. This price decrease will be applied automatically and requires no additional actions by customers.
In its blog post, YouTube said that it had held “good faith negotiations” with Disney several months but was unable to reach an “equitable agreement” despite its best efforts. To be clear, the fight here is about money. YouTube wants Disney to give it the same rates that TV providers of a similar size pay.
“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,” YouTube said.
The full list of Disney-owned channels yanked from YouTube TV, with the exception of the impacted local ABC stations, is included below.
- ABC News Live
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- National Geographic
- National Geographic Wild
- ESPN3 (by authentication to the ESPN app)
- SEC Network
- ACC Network
For customers seeking access to Disney content, YouTube pointed them to The Disney Bundle, a $13.99 per month subscription offered by Disney that gives users access to Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+. Should YouTube and Disney reach an agreement, YouTube said it would adjust its price accordingly and notify its subscribers of the change via email.
Gizmodo reached out to Disney for comment on its negotiations with YouTube on Saturday but did not receive a response by the time of publication. We’ll make sure to update this article if we hear back.
In a statement to Variety, Disney said it was ready to reach an “equitable agreement” as soon as possible.
“We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with Google’s YouTube TV and unfortunately, they have declined to reach a fair deal with us based on market terms and conditions,” Disney said, adding, “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.”
From a subscriber’s perspective, YouTube’s frequent battles with others are dizzying and hard to keep track of. (It buried the hatchet with NBCUniversal in October and ended its feud with Roku earlier this month). More problematic is the fact that access to content can just disappear from one day to the next, like what happened in this case, which means users have to search for another way to get their content for a good price and complete the arduous sign-up process yet again.
Let’s be real: It’s hardly the end of the world, but it is mighty annoying. Unfortunately, with the rise of new streaming platforms left and right, it’s likely these disputes will impact the access to our favorite shows for quite a while.
Update 12/19/2021, 5:44 p.m. ET: Disney told Gizmodo in a statement on Sunday that it had reached an agreement with YouTube to continue offering its content on YouTube TV.
“We are pleased to announce that after a brief disruption, we have reached a new distribution agreement with Google’s YouTube TV for continued carriage of our portfolio of networks,” Disney said. “We appreciate Google’s collaboration to reach fair terms that are consistent with the market, and we’re thrilled that our robust lineup of live sports and news plus kids, family and general entertainment programming is in the process of being restored to YouTube TV subscribers across the country.”
An updated story is forthcoming.
Update 12/19/2021, 7:13 p.m. ET: You can read our article on the new deal here.