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The Walt Disney Co. on Monday warned that its networks could be pulled from Google’s YouTube TV streaming service this week, as the two sides are in the midst of a dispute over carriage fees.
If the entertainment and technology giants don’t come to new terms by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17, Disney’s channels including ABC, ESPN, Freeform and FX could be pulled from the virtual multichannel video provider (vMVPD). The company began warning viewers of its channels about the potential disruption on Monday afternoon.
“Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution has a highly successful track record of negotiating such agreements with providers of all types and sizes across the country and is committed to working with Google to reach a fair, market-based agreement,” Disney said in a statement Monday afternoon. “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.”
YouTube published a blog post on Monday in which it addressed the negotiations.
“Disney is an important partner for us and we’re in active conversations with them and working hard to keep their content on YouTube TV. Our ask to Disney, as with all 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. If Disney offers us equitable terms, we’ll renew our agreement with them.”
The tech giant added that if the Disney channels do go dark, it would decrease its monthly price by $15 to compensate subscribers.
“We would love every member to stay with our service, but we give you the flexibility to pause or cancel your membership anytime,” YouTube added. “If you want to continue watching some of Disney’s content, you can consider signing up for their own service, The Disney Bundle, which they offer for $13.99/month.”
In total some 25 channels would be impacted, 17 live networks plus eight ABC local stations.
YouTube TV is believed to be the most popular vMVPD alongside Hulu with Live TV (which is controlled by Disney). Each service has about 4 million subscribers.
Carriage disputes have gotten more common in recent years as pay TV operators (mostly cable and satellite companies) fight for tougher terms, with the pay TV overall TV ecosystem continuing to decline. YouTube TV is a newer entrant into the space, having launched in 2017.
Disney has previously come close to pulling its channels in the past, most notably with Dish and AT&T in 2019, as well as with Altice in 2017.
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