YouTube TV loses Disney channels including ABC, ESPN as contract expires – CNET

Youtube TV

Sarah Tew/CNET

YouTube TV customers lost access to Disney’s suite of networks late Friday as a carriage agreement lapsed and YouTube and Disney failed to reach a new deal. YouTube said it would drop the monthly price of its TV-streaming service by $15 — making it $50 a month — while programming from ESPN, local ABC channels, Freeform, FX networks, National Geographic and other Disney properties is unavailable.

In a blog post Friday night, Google-owned YouTube said it had “been unable to reach an equitable agreement” with Disney before the existing contract expired. “We know this is frustrating news for our customers, and not what we wanted,” YouTube said in its post. “We will continue conversations with Disney to advocate on your behalf in hopes of restoring their content on YouTube TV.”

In its own comment, Disney also mentioned viewers. “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,” it said in a statement sent to media outlets. “We hope Google will join us in that effort.”

This latest bargaining session follows a highly publicized carriage dispute between Google and Roku, which led to Roku dropping the YouTube TV app from its devices for new customers. The intense battle began in April and was settled Dec. 8, one day before the deadline. In October, YouTube and NBCUniversal extended a contract to keep channels such as NBC, Bravo, SyFy, E!, Oxygen, USA, Telemundo and CNBC on YouTube TV. 

In its Friday night blog post, YouTube provided a link to a webpage where YouTube TV customers can get the latest updates on the Disney situation, including information on affected channels, the price drop, and alternative ways to check out some of Disney’s content.

The Disney properties could return to YouTube TV at any time, as soon as the companies hammer out an agreement. CNET’s David Katzmaier notes, though, that this is cold comfort to YouTube TV customers who want to watch college football (bowl season starts this weekend), the NFL or the NBA on ESPN or ABC, or a Christmas special on the Disney Channel. Katzmaier has his own take on YouTube TV alternatives for bummed-out Disney and sports fans.

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