YouTube TV and NBCUniversal Have Agreed to Make Nice — for Now

YouTube TV and NBCUniversal Have Agreed to Make Nice — for Now
Photo: David McNew / Staff, Getty Images

After a drawn-out public showdown over a contract dispute that could have resulted in 14 NBC Universal channels being yanked from YouTube TV, the two services announced in a Thursday night statement that they’ve worked out a short-term fix.

“NBCUniversal and YouTube TV have agreed to a short extension while parties continue talks. NBCUniversal will not go dark on YouTube TV at midnight eastern tonight,” an NBCUniversal spokesperson said in a statement. “We will continue to be in touch on next steps as we have more information. Thanks for your patience.”

An existing contract between the two companies was set to expire at midnight on September 30, but both parties clashed over carriage terms in the days leading up to the deadline, creating uncertainty about the fate of the NBCUniversal channels on YouTube’s streaming service. While NBCUniversal had reportedly demanded that the Google-owned YouTube TV bundle its streaming service, Peacock, as a condition of continuing to have access to the broadcaster’s channels, YouTube TV had objected to the terms, asking that NBCUniversal treat it “like any other TV provider.”

“In other words, for the duration of our agreement, YouTube TV seeks the same rates that services of a similar size get from NBCU so we can continue offering YouTube TV to members at a competitive and fair price,” the service wrote in a blog post announcing the stalled negotiations.

To offset any inconvenience to customers that would result from the 14 channels — which would have included NBC, Bravo, and the regional sports networks, among others — being dropped, YouTube TV had initially offered to lower the monthly price for its service by $US10 ($14), from $US64.99 ($90) to $US54.99 ($76). While that deal is apparently now off the table, negotiations between the two companies are ongoing.

While cable subscribers are probably overly familiar with carriage dispute-related blackouts that mess with their service, streaming platforms are relatively new to the practice and have been subjecting their customers to disruptions with increasing frequency — particularly when regional sports networks are involved. As streaming platforms duke it out for control of the chessboard, subscribers can expect to see more of these types of turf wars playing out in front of them in real-time — which kind of makes you wonder if cutting the cord is still the cleaner, more convenient alternative to cable that was promised to us.