YouTube TV may lose Disney owned channels

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

YouTube TV is in danger of losing a slew of Disney owned channels if the two companies can’t reach a deal by Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

At risk are ABC News Live, ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Jr. Disney XD, Freeform, FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic, National Geographic Wild, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU, ESPNews, ACC Network, SEC Network and local ABC stations.

Like with its previous retrans battle with NBCUniversal in October 2021, YouTube TV says if the channels are yanked, it will lower the price of its service by $15 a month, from $64.99 to $49.99 until the channels are restored.

It also suggests users sign up for the Disney Bundle that combines Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+, that costs $13.99 a month and would restore access to much of the content that goes missing.

As is typical, both sides have issued statements saying they are committed to trying to reach an agreement — but it all hinges on the financial terms being favorable for everyone involved.

In some similar disputes in the past, companies often agree to continue to their current deal for a few days or weeks to allow more negotiation time. It’s also not uncommon for the channels to go dark but then return in a few days or weeks.

YouTube TV has, however, changed the game a bit by proactively announcing price decreases if content disappears and even referring its subscribers to other service that have the channels they are losing.

Most traditional cable and satellite providers don’t offer to lower the price upfront — though some will issue courtesy credits for customers who call to complain.

It took a similar approach during the NBCUniversal dispute.

In some ways, this is almost sending the message of “if we don’t work something out, we’ve still got your back and, by the way, here’s where you can go and still watch your favorites.”

One thing that could be at the heart of this issue is ESPN and its sister networks, which historically is one of the most expensive channels for a cable provider to carry.

It’s estimated that at least $10 of the average pay TV bills go toward these networks — making them by far the most expensive networks for provides to carry.

Other networks are typically a few dollars or even just a few cents each per month, depending on their popularity. In rare cases, some networks have actually paid providers to carry the channel in hopes to growing it into something viewers want to the point where they can start charging a per subscriber fee.

Cable networks also make money by selling advertising during their programming. Some of this advertising can also be sold by the provider.