NBCU, YouTube TV reach deal to keep networks on web TV service

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

NBCUniversal and YouTube TV have reached an agreement that will keep the media giant’s channels on the Internet based TV service.

The deal was reached Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Terms of the deal were not released.

NBCU and the Google owned TV service had been in negotiations over how much YouTube TV would pay Comcast owned NBCUniversal to carry its various local affiliates, owned stations and cable networks.

The previous deal expired Sept. 30, 2021 at midnight. The two companies agreed to a temporary deal earlier in the day Sept. 30 to avoid a blackout of the channels on the service.

Potentially affected channels would have included NBC affiliates and NBC owned stations, Bravo, CNBC, E!, Golf Channel, MSNBC, Oxygen, Syfy, Telemundo, The Olympic Channel, Universal Kids, Universo and USA, as well as NBCSN and NBC Sports’ regional networks including NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Philadelphia, SNY and NBC Sports Washington.

YouTube TV had previously announced that if NBCUniversal networks dropped off its platform for than a week, subscribers would receive a lower price for as long as the channels where gone, paying $54.99 a month instead of $64.99.

However, because the channels never left the service, much less for a week, there will be no immediate pricing changes.

Earlier reports indicated NBCU was pushing hard for YouTube TV to embed its streaming service Peacock. Google objected, citing challenges of integrating with Peacock’s user interface and concerns that users would be paying for the same content twice, perhaps an indication that negotiations over that point would have forced YouTube TV to raise prices in order to pass along the fee NBC was apparently hoping to collect from Google.

The Peacock issue was eventually dropped and the two companies continued to hammer out a deal. During the entire process, NBC launched a website called YouNeedChannels.com that encourages viewers to put pressure on YouTube TV to sign a deal.

NBCU also began inserting crawls over many of its channels warning users of a potential blackout and to visit the website to take action.

YouTube’s response of announcing a lower price if the deal fell through was notable in that most TV providers don’t lower prices if channels fall off a lineup due to failed or stalled negotiations (though sometimes they do offer one time courtesy credits to customers who complain).

It’s worth noting that NBCUniversal’s blackout would have affected up to 14 networks, depending on market, so it was a fairly substantial loss of content.

By coming forward and saying it was willing to lower the price, YouTube TV fired back at NBC’s efforts to generate viewer backlash — and also showed, at least partially, its hand on at least an estimate of how much NBCUniversal channels actually cost to include.

Google also pointed out that users could simply sign up for Peacock at $4.99 or $9.99 a month to get access to most of the content it would lose should the blackout have gone through, which would have effectively been covered by the price reduction.