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YouTube TV adds back ESPN, ABC, other Disney-owned channels, after dispute

YouTube TV logo on Apple TV
(Image credit: WhatToWatch.com)

UPDATE 19 Dec 2021:
YouTube TV has shared the news that it has reached an agreement with Disney which returns ABC, ESPN and other Disney-owned channels to its live TV streaming service. The removal of Disney-owned channels on YouTube TV lasted less than 48 hours. Though the blackout period was so short, YouTube TV said that it will offer a one-time credit for base plan members of $15. YouTube had promised it would drop the YouTube TV monthly price, by $15, while Disney-owned channels were unavailable. If your account is still active, a one-time $15 credit will be applied to your next bill. Anyone who canceled, following the dispute, will receive the one-time $15 credit if/when they rejoin.

Original article below.

The number of channels for YouTube TV has shrunk overnight, as ABC, ESPN, Freeform and other Disney-owned channels were removed from the live TV streaming service as of 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 17. This loss of channels is a result of the distribution agreement between YouTube TV and Disney expiring on Friday and negotiations for a new or extended contract not being agreed to.

YouTube TV, which boasts more than 85 channels as part of its offering, will go without these Disney channels as long as the two sides remain at odds. Here are all the channels that will be removed from the service: ABC-owned TV stations, ABC News, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, the SEC Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, FX, FXX, FXM, Freeform, National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild.

As a result, YouTube TV subscribers would lose the chance to watch college football bowl games that are airing on ABC or ESPN networks, possibly including the College Football Playoffs on Dec. 31; to watch Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas programming; as well as all the other programming available on these channels.

Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, have featured graphics during the week letting those watching on YouTube TV that they could lose access to these channels after Dec. 17. YouTube TV, meanwhile, sent out an email to its subscribers earlier in the week warning them of the possible outage, though informing them that the service’s monthly price will be lowered $15 to $50 per month as long as the Disney content remains off the platform.

“Disney is an important partner for us,” YouTube TV wrote in the email. “We are in active conversations with them and are working hard to keep their content on YouTube T. Our ask of Disney, as with all of our partners, is to treat YouTube TV like any other TV provider — by providing us the same rates that services of a similar size pay, across Disney’s channels for as long as we carry them.”

YouTube TV also reminded their subscribers that they have the flexibility to pause or cancel their membership at any time, while also providing them with information on where else they could watch the some of the Disney-owned channels, including with the Disney Plus bundle, which offers Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus for a single monthly fee of $13.99. Many of these channels are also available on other live TV streaming services, including FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV and Sling TV.

This isn’t the first time that YouTube TV has been in difficult negotiations that threatened for some channels to be dropped from the service. Back in early October, YouTube TV was at risk of losing NBCUniversal channels, but a new agreement was reached and no NBCU channels were ever dropped from the service.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.