Disney Channels May Be Yanked From YouTube TV After Dispute

Disney Channels May Be Yanked From YouTube TV After Dispute
Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images

YouTube TV hardly knew peace after squaring away its differences with Roku before it was launched into a fresh carriage dispute, this time with Disney. In a Dec. 13 blog post, Google-owned YouTube TV warned users that stalled negotiations with the Mouse House have now threatened the partnership, jeopardizing the presence of roughly a dozen Disney-owned channels on YouTube TV beginning on Dec. 17.

“Disney is an important partner for us. We are in active conversations with them and are working hard to keep their content on YouTube TV,” YouTube wrote in the blog post. “Our ask of Disney, as with all of our partners, is to treat YouTube TV like any other TV provider — by offering us the same rates that services of a similar size pay, across Disney’s channels for as long as we carry them.”

The list of channels that stand to be impacted by a failure to reach a deal by Dec. 17 is long, even without counting at least eight ABC local stations that also stand to be affected by the stalemate:

  • ABC News Live

  • Disney Channel

  • Disney Junior

  • Disney XD

  • Freeform

  • FX

  • FXX

  • FXM

  • National Geographic

  • National Geographic Wild

  • ESPN

  • ESPN2

  • ESPN3 (by authentication to the ESPN app)

  • ESPNU

  • ESPNEWS

  • SEC Network

  • ACC Network

Although it’s typical of streamers to alert their customers of the potential for disruption when it looks like a deal will not or can not be reached in time, Disney signalled in a statement to Variety that it was hopeful that the two companies would be able to “…reach a fair, market-based agreement.”

“We are optimistic that we can reach a deal and continue to provide their YouTube TV customers with our live sporting events and news coverage plus kids, family and general entertainment programming,” Disney said.

But, of course, there’s always the chance that things won’t be so rosy once both parties meet at the negotiating table, which is why YouTube TV also announced a contingency plan where it will lower prices to $US15 ($21) per month if and when Disney’s channels are temporarily yanked from the platform. In the blog post, the platform also notes that impacted users who want more of Disney’s content could always head over to that service’s own bundle, which it offers for $US14 ($20)/month and is subject to its own terms and restrictions.

The dustup with Disney is just the culmination of a messy year of stalled negotiations between YouTube TV and the content providers that power its service. On Dec. 9 — just one week before the tussle with Disney was announced — Roku and Google announced that they had made nice following a months-long feud that had threatened to see YouTube permanently removed from Roku’s app store. Although carriage disputes between streamers and content providers are increasingly common, that one was singularly ugly: Roku had accused Google of making anti-competitive demands during negotiations — like asking Roku to prioritise its properties in search results — and the fight eventually attracted the attention of members of Congress eager to bust up Big Tech.