Is it doomsday for YouTube TV and NBCUniversal? Or will there be a last-minute reprieve?
In dramatic fashion, the two sides have until midnight to resolve their dispute or YouTube TV viewers will lose access to more than a dozen channels. As of 5pm ET, the two sides had not yet reached a deal.
Why is This Happening?
Live streaming providers like YouTube TV pay content providers like NBCUniversal for the right to retransmit their channels. When existing deals end, negotiations can sometimes turn sour. For example, Sling TV doesn’t carry ABC, CBS, Telemundo, and The CW. And fuboTV doesn’t carry Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT, and truTV.
The biggest fight in streaming right now usually revolves around regional sports networks (RSNs). The Bally Sports networks, in particular, have alienated all streaming partners except DIRECTV STREAM.
In the case of NBCUniversal, some analysts believe the company is trying to force YouTube TV to bundle Peacock with their service. If it were automatically added to every subscription, that would surely drive up the price of YouTube TV over time.
YouTube TV is understandably hesitant, already having raised its monthly price by $15 after last summer’s addition of ViacomCBS channels.
The Streamable confirmed this morning with a source familiar with the negotiation that Peacock was no longer required to be included to get a deal done.
YouTube TV is also asking for a MFN (most favored nation) clause that will guarantee them the same rate for the channels as other cable distributors of the same size.
What Happens if a Deal Isn’t Done in Time?
If the two sides can’t reach an agreement by midnight, YouTube TV users will see the following channels go dark: all NBC local affiliates, Bravo, CNBC, E!, Golf Channel, MSNBC, NBC Sports Network, Oxygen, Syfy, Telemundo, Universal Kids, Universo, and USA Network. Customers would also lose their local NBC Sports RSN like NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Philadelphia, and NBC Sports Washington.
It remains to be seen if YouTube TV will simply remove the channels from the lineup or whether attempts to access them will be met with some sort of static image explaining the issue. In some disputes like this, service providers display a URL or phone number so users can vent their frustration at the other side.
For its part, YouTube TV says it will simply reduce the cost of its monthly package by $10 until the situation is resolved. You could pocket the difference or use it on another streaming service.
Just like other carriage disputes, if the two sides are close, they could reach a temporary extension that would allow them to keep the channels live, while they finalize terms.
What Happens if a Deal Occurs After Midnight Tonight?
It seems unlikely that NBC will hold out forever, so tempers may cool at some point in the future. If NBCUniversal and YouTube TV hammer out a deal in the future, your channels would simply magically reappear. If this happens mid-month, YouTube TV is likely to simply resume its standard charge on your next billing cycle.
What Are Your Alternatives?
The Streamable offers this roundup of each service and why you might prefer it as an alternative.
If you’d like to go more in-depth:
- Full breakdown: fuboTV vs. YouTube TV ►
- Full breakdown: DIRECTV STREAM vs. YouTube TV ►
- Full breakdown: Hulu Live TV vs. YouTube TV ►
- Full breakdown: Sling TV vs. YouTube TV ►
|DTV STREAM||fuboTV||Hulu||Philo||Sling TV||YouTube|
|Sign Up||Free Trial||Free Trial||Free Trial||Get $25 OFF||Sign Up|
|Golf Channel||≥ $94.99||•||•||-||-||^ $11||•|
|NBC Sports Bay Area||≥ $84.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports California||≥ $84.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Chicago||≥ $84.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Network||•||•||•||-||-||•||•|
|NBC Sports Philadelphia||-||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|NBC Sports Washington||≥ $84.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|Oxygen||≥ $94.99||•||•||-||-||^ $6||•|
|Universal Kids||≥ $94.99||•||•||-||-||-||•|
|Universo||≥ $94.99||•||^ $5||-||-||^ $6||•|
The Streamable is monitoring this situation and will provide updates as they become available.
YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for $64.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 31 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets.
With the recent addition of Viacom channels (BET, MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) to the service, they are only without Hallmark and A+E Networks (Lifetime, History, A&E).
YouTube TV offers select 4K content, including some live sports and on-demand shows, as part of their 4K Plus add-on. The 4K Plus add-on is $19.99 a month and also includes offline downloads and unlimited streams on your home network.
If you want a cheaper service with many of the entertainment channels on YouTube TV, you can subscribe to Philo which includes A+E, Discovery, Viacom, Hallmark, and other channels for just $20 a month after a 7-Day Free Trial.