YouTube TV

Google’s live TV streaming service YouTube TV is embroiled in another content rights row which could see subscribers lose access to all Disney-owned content, including the ESPN sports networks.

In an email to subscribers last night, YouTube revealed its current streaming agreement with Disney expires later this week and, as yet, a new deal has not been reached.

Negotiations are ongoing, but the company is giving users a “heads-up” in case negotiations between the two parties aren’t successful. If that proves to be the case, The Disney Channel(s), all of the ESPN networks, FX, Freeform and the ABC network TV channel will disappear at 11:59pm on Friday December 17. It’s 18 channels in total.

YouTube says it will offer subscribers $15 off a month while Disney-owned networks are absent from the platform, as it did during an identical impasse with NBC Universal networks this autumn. However, losing the Disney content could represent an even bigger blow to the service as and its customers.

With Christmas just around the corner, with everything that entails in terms of movies and entertainment, plus the bounty of sporting action (NCAA college football, NFL and NBA basketball in particular) over the festive season, this would be a massive loss.

“We welcome a renewed agreement provided we can reach equitable terms with Disney. However, if we are unable to reach a deal by Friday, the Disney-owned channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV starting December 17, and we will decrease our monthly price by $15, from $64.99 to $49.99 (while Disney content remains off of our platform),” YouTube said in the email.

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Disney is also warning its content may be disappearing before the end of the week, but said it was optimistic a deal could be reached.

“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 on Monday (via Hollywood Reporter). “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 TV seems really susceptible to these rights renewal disputes, as over-the-air TV streaming becomes more popular compared with traditional cable and satellite TV services in the United States.

YouTube had already faced up to the damaging loss of regional sports networks from the platform in the last couple of years, as rights-holders continue to seek larger fees for the content, or set-up their own over-the-top platforms.

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