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YouTube TV could lose ESPN, ABC and other Disney-owned channels on December 17

YouTube TV and Roku might have just wrapped up a new carriage deal, but a new storm is brewing for Google’s live TV streaming service. YouTube TV today sent an email to customers warning that its deal for the Disney suite of channels expires on December 17, 2021, and “we have not yet been able to reach an equitable agreement.”

If no deal is reached, customers stand to lose some 18 channels — including their local ABC affiliates and ESPN, in addition other channels under the Disney umbrella.

Should the Disney-owned channels disappear, YouTube TV — which had more than 3 million subscribers at last count in October 2020 — will decrease its monthly cost by $15, bringing the price down to $50 before taxes.

YouTube TV app icon on Apple TV.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Here’s the full list of channels that could be affected:

  • ABC News Live
  • ACC Network
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Junior
  • Disney XD
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3 (by authentication to the ESPN app)
  • ESPNEWS
  • ESPNU
  • FX
  • FXM
  • FXX
  • Freeform
  • National Geographic
  • National Geographic Wild
  • SEC Network
  • Your local ABC channel

The tone of the email from YouTube is less acrimonious than what we experienced in the Roku flap, which very much played out in public over the course of 2021.

“Disney is an important partner for us,” the retail reads. “We are in active conversations with them and are working hard to keep their content on YouTube TV. Our ask of Disney, as with all of 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.”

“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).”

The email from YouTube TV goes on to suggest that customers could subscribe to the Disney Bundle to regain some Disney content should no deal be reached. That bundle includes Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ for $14 a month and is being pushed heavily by Disney instead of individual subscriptions.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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