If you’re a YouTube TV subscriber, bowl season might be a bit more difficult for you to enjoy this December.

Per an announcement, YouTube TV and Disney are locked in a carriage dispute, with YouTube TV threatening to pull all Disney-owned networks (including ESPN) by this Friday, December 17th, if a new carriage agreement cannot be reached.

Here are the impacted networks, per The Streamable.

  • Local ABC channels
  • 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)
  • SEC Network

Disney has a website set up with some (vague) details on the dispute, and an ad blitz began appearing on networks Monday, including during Monday Night Countdown.

YouTube TV also published a blog post about the dispute, saying they’d cut their monthly fee by $15 (to $49.99 per month) if they dropped the Disney network, and the price cut would remain in effect for as long as the networks were not available.

We are now in negotiations with Disney to continue distributing their content on YouTube TV. Our deal will expire on Friday, December 17, 2021. We have not yet been able to reach an equitable agreement, so we want to give you a heads-up so that you can understand your choices.

Disney is an important partner for us. 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.

YouTube TV famously threatened to drop the then-Fox Sports now-Bally Sports RSNs in February of 2020, reaching a temporary agreement a week later that lasted through the end of the 2020 MLB season. They’re still not back. In September, a carriage dispute between NBC and YouTube TV reared its ugly head, but a new deal came together.

The last significant carriage dispute involving ESPN came two years ago, when AT&T and Disney were heading towards the end of their deal and ESPN pelted DirecTV customers with ads during Monday Night Football. A deal eventually got done and the networks weren’t pulled from the airwaves.

The timing on this dispute seems significant, with much of the NBA and NHL seasons still remaining along with the full slate of bowl season, including the College Football Playoff. There are also a handful of Monday Night Football games left, several of which will be simulcast on ABC (and thus, watchable with an antenna). Will YouTube TV follow through and chop over a dozen channels from its lineup? We’ll have to wait and see, and you have to think that other distributors will be watching what happens to see what the aftermath would be.

[The Streamable, YouTube TV, image via Ken Fang]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.