TV Answer Man, I read last night that YouTube TV could lose all the NBC channels. Do you think that will happen? And if so, when? And which channels would we lose? — Janey, Marina Del Rey, California.
Update #2: YouTube TV & NBC Close to Final Deal
Janey, YouTube TV last night said its carriage agreement with NBC expires on Thursday, September 30, which means it could lose the following channels if a new pact is not signed by then:
All NBC network affiliates; USA Network, Golf Channel, Bravo, MSNBC, E!, CNBC, Telemundo, Syfy, Oxygen, The Olympic Channel, Universal Kids, Universo, and the NBC sports regional networks in markets where they are available.
“We know you love watching Sunday Night Football, spending your weeknights with Jimmy Fallon, and binge watching Law and Order SVU. That’s why we’ve been working to renew our deal with NBCUniversal to continue carrying their content on YouTube TV. Since our agreement expires on Thursday, September 30, and we haven’t yet been able to reach an equitable agreement, we wanted to give you an early heads up so you understand your choices,” YouTube TV said in a blog post.
NBCUniversal responded with a new web site, YouNeedChannels.com, which says the Google-owned YouTube TV is refusing to pay the standard rates for its channels.
“Television networks enter into carriage agreements with providers like YouTube TV to provide networks to their customers. NBCUniversal and YouTube TV are in the process of renewing their partnership,: NBC states. “NBCUniversal has a strong record of completing these network carriage agreements with hundreds of distributors without interruption. NBCUniversal doesn’t like involving audiences in this process but feels a responsibility to inform YouTube TV subscribers and potential YouTube TV subscribers, that 14+ of their favorite channels may be dropped.”
But will they be dropped, you ask?
Normally when a carriage dispute is still a few days from the deadline, it’s near impossible to read the tea leaves to determine if a blackout will occur. Both sides usually engage in over-the-top name-calling and allegations, making it sound like a stalemate is inevitable.
But this fee fight has a new twist that tells me that at least one party believes a blackout on September 30 is likely.
YouTube TV last night said if it loses the NBC channels, it will lower its monthly subscriber price from $64.99 to $54.99 for the duration of the blackout.
“If NBCU offers us equitable terms, we’ll renew our agreement with them. However, if we are unable to reach a deal by Thursday, the NBCU lineup of channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will decrease our monthly price by $10, from $64.99 to $54.99 (while this content remains off our platform),” the streamer said.
YouTube TV suggested that its NBC viewers use the savings (if they are implemented) to sign up for Peacock, NBC’s streaming site which offers the network’s programming with ads for $4.99 a month. (The ads-free plan costs $9.99 a month.)
“You can sign up for NBC’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service, Peacock, which they offer for $4.99/month to continue watching NBCU content, such as Sunday Night Football,” YouTube TV states.
The unusual preemptive offer suggests that Google is preparing for standoff, at least for a short period of time. And the company wants to ensure that subscribers don’t defect when it begins.
So if I had to predict now, I will say that there will be a blackout beginning Thursday. I don’t suspect it will last several weeks or months because YouTube TV would likely lose a significant number of subscribers despite the price cut. Plus, NBC needs the YouTube TV audience, which is around 3.5 million to 4 million subscribers, for ratings and advertising. Eventually, they will find common ground.
Janey, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann