Here’s another TV distribution battle that is escalating — and could lead to a blackout: Google is telling YouTube TV subscribers that its existing contract for the Disney network of networks is due to expire this week and that it could be removed from the service.
Disney has confirmed that the contract with YouTube TV for ABC-owned television stations, ESPN networks, Disney Channels, Freeform, FX networks and National Geographic channels will expire Friday, December 17 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
“If Disney offers us fair terms, we will renew our agreement with them,” YouTube said in a new blog post. “However, if we are not able to reach a deal by Friday, the Disney-owned channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will reduce our monthly price by $15, from $64.99 to $49.99 (while this content remains off our platform).”
In its special statement, Disney said: “Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution has a proven track record of successfully negotiating such agreements with providers of all types and sizes across the country, and is committed to working with Google to achieve a fair, market-based agreement. We are optimistic that We can strike a deal and continue to provide their YouTube TV customers with live sports and news coverage as well as kids and family entertainment and general entertainment.”
According to Google, the internet giant is currently in active negotiations with Disney for an agreement to continue distributing the networks on YouTube TV “so you can continue watching everything from your favorite ESPN teams to ‘The Bachelor’ to ‘Good Morning America’.” … Disney is an important partner of ours and we are in active conversations with them and are working hard to keep their content on YouTube TV.”
“We’re asking Disney, as with all of our partners, to treat YouTube TV like any other TV provider — by offering the same prices that similarly sized services pay, across Disney channels for as long as we make them available,” he said in the blog.
YouTube also noted that if the two companies can’t come to an agreement, “you could consider subscribing to their service, the Disney package, which they’re offering for $13.99 a month,” which includes Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus.
The row between Google and Disney over YouTube TV distribution follows a similar dispute between Google and NBCUniversal that became public earlier this fall. The YouTube TV deal for cable networks NBCU and local NBC stations was scheduled to expire September 30; The two companies announced a new agreement on October 2. Google was willing to cut $10 off the monthly price of YouTube TV if the NBCU channels went dark.
And last week, Roku and Google finally settled their differences over basic distribution terms for YouTube and YouTube TV apps on the Roku platform, more than seven months after YouTube TV pulled Roku.