YouTube TV does have ESPN following a disruption in its airing on the platform due to negotiation breakdowns between YouTube TV and Disney, which owns ESPN.
YouTube TV was plagued with a number of contractual disputes in 2021, as contracts with the networks that own the channels that air on its platforms came to an end. The contractual disputes resulted in threats of disruption in viewing, as the networks planned to pull their channels.
Out of the networks that had made the threats, Disney did eventually temporarily pull its programming. Disney, which owns channels including ABC and ESPN, pulled the channels for 40 hours as the two entities failed to reach an agreement initially. However, it reinstated the channels when it finally resolved matters with YouTube TV.
What was the dispute between Disney and YouTube TV?
Ahead of the end of the contractual agreement between Disney and YouTube TV in December 2021, the two entities were already in negotiations about the new terms and conditions of agreement. However, as the end of the previous contractual terms was drawing near, Disney and YouTube TV were nowhere close to reaching a resolution.
During this time, both Disney and YouTube TV refused to go into details as to the nature of the loggerheads between them. Therefore, when Disney pulled ABC and ESPN, along with other Disney owned channels, no one was wiser as to the cause of the contention.
Does YouTube TV have ESPN?
The pulling off of Disney-owned channels including ESPN and ABC was later labelled as a disruption. This is as the channels were pulled for an estimated forty hours from the channel before it was announced that YouTube TV and ESPN have reached a resolution. During the time that the channels were pulled, YouTube TV ran a discount on its subscription of $15 off, which reduced the cost to $49.99.
However, when the resolution was released, Disney released a statement which in part read, “We are pleased to announce that after a brief disruption, we have reached a new distribution agreement with Google’s YouTube TV for continued carriage of our portfolio of networks.”
Google, which owns YouTube TV affirmed the sentiments shared by Disney. Moreover, YouTube TV went on to state that the $15 discount would still be reflected in the bill of those that had accepted it on their statements at the end of the month.
What would have been the implications of the end of Disney and YouTube TV?
The primary focus has been on ESPN and ABC as the most popular of the Disney-owned channels, which would have been permanently removed from YouTube TV if Disney and Google did not reach an agreement. There are a number of other channels on YouTube TV which would have been affected by a stalemate between the two entities.
Besides ESPN and ABC being owned by Disney, other channels that would have been affected would have included ABC News Live, the Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FX, National Geographic and nine other related Disney-owned channels.
What was YouTube TV’s first contractual dispute in 2021?
Though it might have been the biggest, the contractual dispute between Google’s YouTube TV and Disney was not the first one that Google tackled in 2021. In total, the company had three major contractual disputes which threatened the possibility of disruptions.
The first was with NBCUniversal in the fall. At the time, ComCast, which owns the NBCUniversal-channels, was threatening to pull fourteen of its channels from the platform. However, this never occurred as the two reached a resolution ahead of the set deadline and ComCast has continued hosting the channels on YouTube TV.
YouTube TV and Roku’s contractual breakdown
The second dispute that Google’s YouTube TV had to overcome was with fellow streaming giant, Roku. Following the end of the contractual agreement in April 2021, Google and Roku were involved in a tense seven-month negotiation filled with public mudslinging.
This is as Roku alleged that Google was seeking preferential treatment with the new terms. Google denied the allegation and set a deadline to resolve the disagreement for 9 December 2021.
They eventually reached an agreement on 8 December 2021 without disruption to existing subscribers on Roku, while new subscribers during this time had to use back door antics to access YouTube TV.
Google’s YouTube TV was faced with multiple contractual agreements ending in 2021. As a result, the company was forced to have multiple negotiations with various networks and partners of YouTube TV to renew their contracts, which was not always an easy objective to fulfil.
A case in point is the almost-end of YouTube TV hosting Disney-owned channels. Especially its popular flagship channels on the platform including ESPN, ABC, FreeForm and National Geographic. Following a somewhat brief disruption when the channels were taken off YouTube TV, the two entities reached an amicable agreement reinstating all Disney-owned channels.