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YouTube TV Drops Disney-Owned Channels Including ESPN, Disney Channel, & ABC

Ben Bowman, Jason Gurwin

After a year of bitter disputes with its partners, YouTube TV just took a gut-punch from one of the entertainment world’s biggest titans. The Streamable has confirmed that the service was unable to negotiate a deal with Disney to retain more than 17 Disney-owned channels, including owned-and-operated ABC affiliates, Disney Channel, and ESPN.

YouTube TV users also lost access to their old DVR recordings from those channels.

In a statement to The Streamable, Disney said:

We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with Google’s YouTube TV and unfortunately, they have declined to reach a fair deal with us based on market terms and conditions. As a result, their subscribers have lost access to our unrivaled portfolio of networks including live sports and news plus kids, family and general entertainment programming from ABC, the ESPN networks, the Disney channels, Freeform, the FX networks and the National Geographic channels.

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. We hope Google will join us in that effort.

Those channels have disappeared from the service in the middle of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves game and are no longer listed on the YouTube TV homepage. To compensate, YouTube TV will lower its price by $15/month to $49.99 a month until the standoff is resolved.

But if you are looking for other alternatives to YouTube TV, that carry ABC locals, as well as Disney Channel, ESPN, Freeform, FX, and National Geographic, here are your options.

The dispute comes at a particularly important time for sports fans as we head into College Bowl season and the final weeks of the NFL regular season and the start of the playoffs.

In a blog post, YouTube TV said of the failed negotiations:

We’ve held good faith negotiations with Disney for several months. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to reach an equitable agreement before our existing one expired, and their channels are no longer available on YouTube TV. We will be decreasing our monthly price by $15, from $64.99 to $49.99 while this content remains off of our platform.

We know this is frustrating news for our customers, and not what we wanted. We will continue conversations with Disney to advocate on your behalf in hopes of restoring their content on YouTube TV. In the meantime, we’ll update this website soon with the latest updates, including channels impacted, alternative ways to continue enjoying some of Disney’s content on The Disney Bundle, information about our price decrease, plus any other questions you may have about this situation.

What Channels Did YouTube TV Lose?

The channels involved in the dispute are:

  • ABC
  • 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)
  • ACC Network
  • SEC Network

What Are Your Alternatives to Keep Watching Disney-owned Channels?

Here are your alternative live streaming services to consider. We’ll break down the pros and cons of each.

DTV STREAM fuboTV Hulu Philo Sling TV YouTube
Free Trial Free Trial Sign Up Free Trial 50% OFF Sign Up
$69.99 $69.99 $69.99 $25 $35 $35 $64.99
ABC - - -
ABC News Live - - - -
ACC Network ≥ $89.99 - ^ $11 -
Disney Channel - -
Disney Junior - ^ $6 -
Disney XD - ^ $6 -
ESPN - -
ESPN2 - -
ESPN3 - - - -
ESPNEWS ≥ $89.99 ^ $8 - ^ $11 -
ESPNU ≥ $89.99 ^ $8 - ^ $11 -
Freeform - -
FX - -
FXM ≥ $104.99 ^ $8 - - ^ $6
FXX - - ^ $6
Nat Geo Wild ≥ $104.99 ^ $8 - - ^ $6
National Geographic - -
SEC Network ≥ $89.99 - ^ $11 -

Closest YouTube TV Alternatives

  • Sling TV

    Sling TV has the most flexible channel packages available, allowing users to save a lot of money. The service offers two separate channel packages for $35 or a combo of the two for just $50. Sling TV does not offer ABC, CBS, Telemundo, The CW, and Univision. But you can get Fox and NBC in select markets.

    You can add NFL RedZone to Sling TV.

    Sling TV includes 50 hours of recording space with each subscription. For $5/month, you can have up to 200 hours of recording space.

    Key takeaway: Save money with skinnier bundles.

    Full breakdown: Sling TV vs. YouTube TV ►

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  • Hulu Live TV

    This is probably the closest one-to-one comparison to YouTube TV. You’ll get access to up to 0 channels.

    Hulu Live TV also provides a phenomenal on-demand library of original titles, including “The Handmaid's Tale,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” “Palm Springs,” “PEN15,” “Shrill,” and a great rotating library of blockbuster movies.

    The cost of Hulu Live TV goes up by $5 on December 21, but that new price automatically includes the “Disney Bundle,” which gives you ESPN+ and Disney+. With a free trial, this is an easy choice.

    Hulu includes a cloud DVR with 50 hours of capacity, though you can’t fast-forward through commercials. You can upgrade to the Enhanced Cloud DVR for $10/month. That provides 200 hours of storage space and you can skip ads.

    Key takeaway: Comparable channel lineup with great, exclusive originals on demand.

    Full breakdown: Hulu Live TV vs. YouTube TV ►

    Sign Up

    Get The Disney Bundle (Disney+ & ESPN+) Included At No Extra Charge ($14 value)

  • fuboTV

    Billing itself as a sports-lover’s dream, fuboTV includes free 4K broadcasts (unlike YouTube TV), and a ton of flexible sports add-ons. FuboTV can give you as many as 108 channels. You would lose access to Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT, and truTV, however. You do get a free trial with fuboTV, so it’s also an easy one to try.

    FuboTV provides a 250-hour cloud DVR. For another $5/month, you can upgrade to a 1,000-hour DVR.

    Key takeaway: Sports options galore with free 4K.

    Full breakdown: fuboTV vs. YouTube TV ►


    DIRECTV STREAM can get expensive quickly, but that might be worth it for access to as many as 210 channels, including more regional sports networks than any other service. There are four tiers of service available, so you can tailor your choices.

    DIRECTV STREAM does not offer NFL RedZone or NFL Network, however.

    DIRECTV STREAM’s included DVR only provides 20 hours of cloud storage. You can upgrade to Unlimited Storage for $10/month.

    Key takeaway: The most channels available to stream, the best Regional Sports Network options.

    Full breakdown: DIRECTV STREAM vs. YouTube TV ►

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What Are Some Good Options to Try With Your $15?

If you’d like sports, you will be able to keep up with a lot of ESPN’s programming with a subscription to ESPN+. It’s a fantastic way to follow the NHL and NBA.

If you don’t need the channels YouTube TV lost, but you’d like to experiment with some new streaming options, consider trying these services.

Streaming Services Under $15 Worth Trying

  • Amazon Prime Video

    With one of the largest streaming libraries around, Prime Video is a solid addition to any lineup. With original films and series and a growing portfolio of live sports, you’re sure to find something you like.

    Prime Video offers shows like the ultra-violent superhero adventures “The Boys” and “Invincible,” comedic dramas like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Fleabag,” and a show that made almost every critic’s 2021 best-of list, “The Underground Railroad.”

    When it comes to movies, you’ll find award winners like “Sound of Metal,” “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” and “One Night in Miami.”

    A 30-day free trial will give you plenty of time to see if it’s right for you.

    Key takeaway: Huge library with something for everybody, but a frustrating UI.

  • Hulu

    Note that Hulu on demand is different from Hulu + Live TV. You can pick up the Hulu library for a very affordable price, getting access to A-list movies, compelling TV shows, and a great documentary library.

    As we noted above, Hulu comes packed with great stuff for grown-ups, like “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Only Murders in the Building,” and the great FX series like “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Fargo,” and “Atlanta.” You’ll find a lot of older shows as well, like “My Name is Earl,” “My So-Called Life,” “Key & Peele,” “Freaks and Geeks,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Weeds.”

    If you don’t mind ads before a movie or periodically interrupting a TV show, the ad-supported tier is very affordable.

    Key takeaway: A brilliant library of older shows, some popular movies, and a handful of strong originals.

    30-Day Trial

    Through May 27th, Get Hulu For Just $1/mo. For Next 3 Months.

  • Disney+

    If you love Disney princesses, Marvel superheroes, or Star Wars sci-fi, this is the streaming service for you. Disney+ combines some of the world’s most beloved brands in one place.

    When it comes to original series, the big breakthroughs have been the Marvel titles like “WandaVision,” “Loki,” and “Hawkeye.” Disney+ is also home to one of the biggest-ever streaming hits - “The Mandalorian.” The upcoming “Book of Boba Fett” should provide much the same thrill for Star Wars fans.

    If there’s a knock on Disney+, it’s that you won’t find much compelling content for adults. There’s “Hamilton” and the Beatles docuseries “Get Back,” but the rest feels aimed at a younger crowd.

    Key takeaway: From Pixar to pirates to princesses to a galaxy far, far away, Disney+ has something for the kid in all of us.

    Sign Up

    Get Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for just $13.99 a month ($8 savings).

  • HBO Max

    No streaming service had a better 2021 than HBO Max. By dumping the entire Warner Bros. theatrical slate directly on the streamer, the company offered eye-popping blockbusters with built-in buzz.

    HBO Max is home to DC superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman; prestige dramas like “The Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones,” and the “Wire”; side-splitting comedies like “Veep” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and a wealth of thought-provoking documentaries. The service benefits from a library with nearly every show HBO has ever aired, and Warner Bros.’ legendary catalog.

    HBO Max is our choice as Best for Action, Best for Comedy, Best for Families, and Best for Documentaries.

    Key takeaway: Some of the best TV you’ll ever see, alongside some unforgettable movies. HBO Max is a truly superior streamer.

YouTube TV’s 2021 Tussles

In September, YouTube TV had a similar dispute with NBCUniversal over carriage of their local affiliates and cable channels, but were able to reach a deal without the channels going dark.

They were also recently in a carriage dispute with Roku, which prevented new subscribers from downloading the YouTube TV App. The two sides reached a deal last week that saw the app return to the platform.

However, YouTube TV has dropped channels in the past. Most notably, in October 2020 they dropped Bally Sports (which were Fox Sports RSNs at the time), along with Sinclair-owned Tennis Channel and Boston-based RSN NESN.

Stay with The Streamable and we’ll update you if and when this standoff subsides.


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