Local sports will continue on YouTube TV for a while longer, as the service has reached a temporary agreement with Sinclair Broadcast Group to Keep Fox Sports regional networks and the YES Network on board.
The deal is in place while the two sides work on a longer-term carriage agreement. Pressure is on for a deal with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and Major League Baseball’s season both looming in March.
YouTube TV had notified customers that some of its sports networks might be going away today. “This is a reflection of the rising cost of sports content,” the company said in a tweet. “You may have noticed several other TV services have also decided to remove Fox Regional Sports Networks from their lineups.”
Sinclair fired back, claiming it offered to lower fees in order to keep the channels alive, and had a slow response from YouTube on its offers.
YouTube TV currently costs $49.99 per month.
Disney and Sinclair Broadcast Group formally closed their $9.6 billion transfer of 21 regional sports networks once owned by 21st Century Fox last August.
In order to close its $71.3 billion acquisition of most of Fox, Disney agreed to sell off the RSNs so as to avoid monopoly issues given the scope of its ESPN holdings. The plan was laid out by the U.S. Department of Justice in a consent decree last year after Disney staved off Comcast to prevail in the bidding for Fox.
After an auction process for the RSNs, Sinclair along with Byron Allen and private equity partners won control of the networks along with Fox College Sports. The networks, including Fox Sports West, Prime Ticket, Fox Sports Ohio and others, remain powerhouses even in challenging times for traditional TV. They control rights to 42 pro teams across all major sports as well as significant college sports rights, and the nature of live sports viewing can mean highly concentrated audiences and a steady flow of ad dollars.