After a recent dispute, Disney has pulled its channels from YouTube TV. The impasse comes amid the rise of cord-cutting and streaming services like Netflix that offer traditional cable networks for cheaper than ever before. Many are wondering if this is just another instance in which an entertainment company pushes back against innovation or whether it’s time to take stock of what viewers really want when they purchase content
YouTube TV has lost Disney Channels including ESPN in the stand-off. The streaming service is also losing other channels as well.
After YouTube’s deal to offer programs from Walt Disney Co. DIS 0.01 percent ended on Saturday, users to YouTube TV lost access to networks including ESPN and FX.
The dispute involves Google’s YouTube TV, which provides users with a bundle of channels, against Disney, the parent company of the ABC television network and cable networks such as Disney Channel and Freeform. Alphabet Inc. is the parent company of Google. GOOG is down 1.41 percent.
Subscribers to YouTube TV were unable to watch a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves that was currently in progress. When the game abruptly ended, several fans rushed to Twitter to vent their frustrations.
“We’ve been in continuous talks with Google’s YouTube TV, but they’ve rejected to strike a reasonable agreement with us based on market terms and circumstances,” says the company. As a consequence, their members no longer have access to Disney’s “unrivaled range of networks,” according to a Disney spokesperson. “We are prepared to strike an equitable deal with Google as soon as possible in order to restore our networks and minimize the disruption to YouTube TV users.” We’re hoping that Google will join us in this endeavor.”
The firms are squabbling about Disney channel distribution fees. According to those familiar with the situation, YouTube TV’s proposal for a provision ensuring it pays the same rate as distributors of comparable size is a sticking point.
“We’ve been negotiating with Disney in good faith for many months. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to achieve an equitable arrangement before our current one ended, and their channels are no longer accessible on YouTube TV,” a YouTube representative said in a statement. “We understand that this is disappointing news for our clients, and it is not what we had hoped for. We’ll keep talking to Disney and advocating on your behalf in the hopes of getting their programming back on YouTube TV.”
Although YouTube TV does not divulge its subscriber count, a source close to the business claims it is in the millions. According to MoffettNathanson research, it has more subscribers than conventional pay-TV providers Altice USA Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.
More than a dozen Disney channels, as well as local broadcast stations, are available on YouTube TV. The loss eliminates a significant portion of YouTube TV’s content. As long as the channels are missing, YouTube TV will reduce its monthly membership fee to $49.99 from $64.99.
The standoff between the programmers and distributors was made public earlier this week when YouTube started notifying users that they would lose access to Disney’s programs shortly. YouTube TV also took the unusual step of urging viewers to subscribe to Disney’s streaming services like Disney+ and ESPN+ in order to recover access to some of the programming they would otherwise lose.
Lillian Rizzo and Patience Haggin may be reached at Lillian.Rizzo@wsj.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.
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