YouTube TV Drops ESPN and Other Major Channels Amid Contract Dispute

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Note: YouTube TV and Disney reached a deal on December 19, 2021. You can read the full statement here.


YouTube TV subscribers find themselves without access to ESPN and a number of popular television channels.

The live TV streaming service has gone public with information about yet another contract dispute with one of its providers, and customers are again feeling the pain.

In a letter to subscribers, YouTube TV informed customers that Disney channels have been removed from the service effective Saturday, December 18.

“We’ve held good faith negotiations with Disney for several months,” the letter said. “Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we were unable to reach an equitable agreement before our existing one expired.”

That letter was the second that subscribers received in the week. YouTube previously warned that contract negotiations with Disney are not going well and that drastic changes were coming to their service if a deal was not reached by Friday, December 17.

The loss of Disney-owned channels results in a temporary monthly price reduction, so it’s not all bad news.

Team Clark has all the details on what you need to know about this situation.


These Disney-Owned Channels Have Been Removed From YouTube TV

Until a new deal between YouTube TV and Disney can be reached, the following channels will no longer be available on the live TV streaming service:

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

In addition to the immediate impact of losing local news, popular network dramas and Mickey Mouse cartoons, sports fans lose out because of the timing of the removal of these channels.

ESPN and its family of networks are home to more than 40 college football bowl games including the College Football Playoff, set to begin on Dec. 31. It’s also the broadcast home for NFL Monday Night Football.

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YouTube TV Promises To Lower Subscription Price Without Disney

YouTube TV doesn’t want to be the total bad guy in the eyes of the public during these intense negotiations, so it has promised to cut subscription costs for everyone while Disney is not on the service.

The letter to subscribers says that YouTube TV will drop its price from $64.99 to $49.99 for the months in which Disney channels are dropped from the service.

No action is needed on your part to get this discount.

It’s probably a smart move to make: an effort to get in front of potential customer complaints by putting money back in subscribers’ pockets. But one has to wonder if that’s actually enough incentive to keep customers from switching to streaming alternatives that still carry these channels.

Here’s a look at the full letter YouTube TV sent to customers on Saturday, December 18, 2021:

YouTube TV tells subscribers it has removed Disney channels

What Are the Streaming Alternatives for ESPN and Other Disney Channels?

If you’re worried about missing your favorite team play on ESPN this week, you may already be scrambling for “Plan B” since YouTube TV won’t air the contest.

The good news is that cord cutters almost always have options. Not being locked into a long-term contract (as is usually required by the cable and satellite companies) allows you to be nimble when issues like this arise.

Live TV streaming competitors Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV and DIRECTV STREAM all have access to ESPN and other Disney channels.

You can use Team Clark’s streaming channel tool to match yourself with the most cost-effective YouTube TV replacement based on the channels you watch most often.


Final Thoughts

If this scenario sounds familiar, it’s probably because YouTube TV has made a habit of negotiating deals in public during the last few months.

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It most recently ended a seven-month spat with Roku that once again allows new users to download the YouTube TV app on Roku devices.

And earlier in 2021 YouTube TV made a similar offer to cut subscription costs when it was negotiating a new deal with NBC for its channels. That one was resolved before anyone lost out on watching their favorite content.

Unfortunately, this one was not resolved before customers were impacted. Hopefully the outage is short and an agreement can be reached soon.


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