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YouTube TV Removes Disney, ESPN, ABC & Other Channels [Update: Back Again]

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Update 12/19: YouTube TV and Disney have already agreed a deal to bring an end to a dispute that resulted in multiple channels being dropped from the live TV streaming service. According to the announcement, the channels are now in the process of being restored. This agreement also results in the cost of a subscription reverting back to $64.99 per month. However, YouTube TV is providing all affected customers with a one-time $15 discount. End of update:

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Original article: YouTube TV has dropped all Disney-owned channels including ESPN and local ABC stations. This decision results in a number of popular channels being removed from the YouTube TV lineup and greatly affects the value on offer with a subscription. While it is possible that the removed channels could be re-added again, it currently remains to be seen if that will happen.

Earlier this week, YouTube TV warned that there was a possibility that the channels might be removed. The issue stemmed from a distribution dispute with Disney. Essentially, the two companies were finding it difficult to agree to a new deal before December 17th, when the existing deal was due to expire.

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YouTube TV has now confirmed that a new agreement was unable to be made in time. As a result, all of the channels owned by Disney were removed from the service as of 9 p.m. PT on 12/17/21. The decision affects existing customers as well as those considering signing up to the service. In addition to the direct impact on the selection of live TV channels, subscribers have also now lost access to on-demand content and DVR recordings associated with any of the Disney-owned channels.

While the Disney Channel, ESPN and local ABC stations are some of the most notable channels to have been dropped, subscribers have actually lost access to up to 18 channels overall.

Disney channels removed from YouTube TV:

  • ABC
  • ABC News Live
  • Disney Channel
  • Disney Junior
  • Disney XD
  • Freeform
  • FX
  • FXX
  • FXM
  • National Geographic
  • National Geographic Wild
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3 (via ESPN app authentication)
  • ESPNU
  • ESPNEWS
  • SEC Network
  • ACC Network

For what it is worth, the decision has also resulted in a price change. Going forward, new and existing subscribers will only pay $49.99 per month for the YouTube TV base plan. Existing subscribers will see a $15 credit applied to their bill each month, and the YouTube TV website has already been updated to reflect the new $49.99 monthly price for those considering signing up to the service. YouTube TV says this discounted price will continue to be in effect for as long as the affected channels remain unavailable through the service.

The last point is an important one as it does imply that a deal could still be done. While the removal of channels is a serious move, YouTube TV says it still intends to keep on negotiating with Disney to find a solution that suits both sides.

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“We know this is frustrating news for our customers, and not what we wanted. We will continue conversations with Disney to advocate on your behalf in hopes of restoring their content on YouTube TV.”

YouTube

Of course, none of this means that a deal will be done either. Removing so many channels at the same time is likely to prove very unpopular with a number of existing customers. In this sense, it is unlikely to have been a decision that YouTube has taken lightly, and one that suggests the channels are more likely to remain unavailable for some time, if not permanently.

For now, those in need of access to any of the missing channels will need to reconsider their streaming options. With ESPN, for example, signing up to a service like ESPN+ to bridge the sports gap, or changing to a live TV service that includes access to ESPN. While neither option is ideal, or as convenient as having the channels included with an existing live TV plan, the situation is not going to change unless YouTube TV and Disney are able to agree a new deal.

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John Finn

By John Finn

John started Streaming Better to help consumers navigate the live TV streaming and subscription service landscape. John has been writing about technology and TV-related services and devices since 2014 and believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingbetter.com or on Twitter

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