If you have visited ESPN’s YouTube channel looking for a highlight or your favorite “This is SportsCenter” promo over the past couple of days, you have noticed the above screen with the message “This channel has no content.”
And it’s not just ESPN’s main YouTube channel, but if you go to any of its subchannels like this one:
You’ll notice that all of the videos are gone or at least made private. This is all related to YouTube’s launch of its ad-free subscription service, YouTube Red. If you’re not aware, YouTube is launching this new service in hopes of attracting pay subscribers who are fed up of ads autoplaying before videos.
The new service will not just provide ad-free videos, but also some exclusive content from various YouTube stars and subscribers will be able to save the videos offline. And while ESPN’s parent Disney has signed up to be part of YouTube Red, but for ESPN, it’s a little different. A YouTube spokesperson told Deadspin that ESPN’s problems with YouTube Red deal with “legal and rights issues,” meaning that the Worldwide Leader needs to negotiate these rights before going signing with the new service.
And YouTube provided this statement on Friday in regards to the transition to YouTube Red:
“Today, the overwhelming majority of our partners, representing nearly 99-percent of the content watched on YouTube, have signed up. Videos of partners who don’t update their terms will be made private, but we remain committed to working closely with these partners with the goal of bringing them on board.”
Now ESPN’s videos aren’t totally gone. You can find them on its website and its video player and the videos there are embeddable (as is the case here).
It appears that the issue needs to be negotiated between ESPN and its partners so it may be a matter of time before they start appearing again. In the meantime, the ESPN channels will remain private for the foreseeable future.