TV Answer Man, is it true that YouTube TV is dropping the MLB Network channel? The baseball season is just weeks away and spring training is February!! Say it ain’t so!! — Larry, Trenton, New Jersey.
Larry, you’re right. Spring training is less than two weeks away and the MLB regular season is scheduled to start on March 30. But it appears that YouTube TV’s chief negotiator has struck out just like mighty Casey in the fable.
YouTube TV informed subscribers today in an e-mail that it will no longer carry MLB Network effective today.
“We have been working hard to renew our deal with the MLB Network to continue carrying their content on YouTube TV,” the e-mail states. “However, we have been unable to reach an agreement.”
The e-mail says YouTube TV will continue to pursue an agreement, but as of now, both the live MLB Network and any individual recordings from the channel have been removed from its lineup and menu respectively. YouTube TV included MLB Network in its base plan, which starts at $64.99 a month.
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There’s no comment yet from MLB Network. (But the channel will likely say that YouTube TV is refusing to pay what other providers pay. That’s the standard response in such disputes.) The TV Answer Man has asked MLB’s communications department for a comment and will report back here if we receive one.
The MLB Network blackout also hurts YouTube TV’s effort to generate subscriptions for its 4K Plus add-on package, which is $19.99 a month although it has offered lower prices in the last few weeks to select customers. MLB Network, which broadcasts live games as well as studio shows, does some of the live games in 4K.
If you’re looking for alternatives, DIRECTV Stream carries the MLB Network in its Choice plan and above, which starts at $99.99 a month. Sling TV has MLB Network in its Sports Extra add-on package, which is $11 a month in addition to the base $40 a month package. And FuboTV has it in its Sports Plus plan, which is $11 a month in addition to its base plan, which starts at $74.99 a month.
Update: MLB Network issued this statement tonight:
“With Spring Training about to start, we regret that YouTube TV has been unwilling to negotiate a fair carriage agreement. MLB Network has offered terms consistent with what close to 300 other U.S. providers have agreed to for distribution.
MLB Network remains widely available throughout the U.S., including on Altice USA (Optimum), AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications (Spectrum), Comcast, Cox Communications, DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream, DISH, fuboTV, Sling TV, Verizon Fios and many others. Viewers can visit www.findmlbnetwork.com for alternative options to get MLB Network in their local area.“
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As I normally do in these situations I went to mlb.com, found the “contact us” link and then submitted a comment to them that I applaud YTTV (as I did Dish in the past) holding out as I want my TV costs to not increase. From everything I’ve seen it’s always the “content owners” looking to raise prices that trigger these disagreements and when they say “blah blah,300 other providers, blah blah” it’s just code for them trying to increase prices paid by the providers. Once that happens, it’s only a matter of time until they have to come around and charge us more.
Maybe if enough of us YTTV customers go to mlb.com and tell them to knock it off they will. I kind of doubt it but it’s worth a try.
I think it’s too sad for words you took MLB network from us. You’re keeping the greatest game on earth away from us for more money. I just believe it’s bogus to make us think everyone else is agreeing to it. We’re the one’s, the old school ball players living on a fixed income, who are being punished for greediness. It’s just really sad. I’m a former college ball player and it just really saddens me.