Disney had indicated earlier this week it was “optimistic” about the prospect of resolving the carriage dispute. But the parties said the discussions had not resulted in an agreement and the networks disappeared from the internet-delivered bundle at midnight ET.
YouTube TV surpassed 3 million subscribers as of fall 2020, according to Google parent Alphabet. Some Wall Street analysts believe it now has more than 4 million, making it the largest internet TV bundle. It ranks among the top 10 pay-TV distributors of any kind.
Hanging in the balance in the dispute are Disney networks including ESPN, FX, Freeform and National Geographic as well as several large-market ABC-owned stations. If the impasse drags on, one pressure point from the programming end will be ESPN’s New Year’s Eve broadcast of the College Football Playoff semifinal games. A year ago, the games each drew more than 19 million viewers in what was ESPN’s third-biggest viewing day of all time.
“We’ve held good faith negotiations with Disney for several months,” YouTube said in a blog post. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to reach an equitable agreement before our existing one expired, and their channels are no longer available on YouTube TV.”
YouTube TV, making good on an earlier vow, said it would drop its monthly price by $15, to $64.99 for as long as the channels remain offline.
“We know this is frustrating news for our customers, and not what we wanted,” YouTube TV said. “We will continue conversations with Disney to advocate on your behalf in hopes of restoring their content on YouTube TV.”
In a statement, Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution said, “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. … 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.”
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