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:
Original article: YouTube TV subscribers have lost access to up to 18 channels due to the lack of a distribution deal with Disney. With so many channels having been removed at the same time, existing subscribers may need to reevaluate whether this is still the right service for them. Likewise, those now considering signing up to YouTube TV will want to make sure the live TV streaming service still carries the channels they want to watch the most.
YouTube TV has always been a good option for live TV streaming. Although the price has slowly increased over time, the channel lineup has also expanded over the same period. Earlier this year, the channel selection improved even further with the addition of a number of ViacomCBS channels. However, the service has not been without its issues and disputes, with the most recent one taking shape in the form of a disagreement with Disney.
On December 18th 2021, and following a warning issued earlier in the week, YouTube TV confirmed that it had dropped all of the Disney-owned channels from its lineup. This not only included the likes of the Disney Channel, but also various ESPN and FX channels as well. In total, seventeen channels were removed from YouTube TV, with subscribers also losing TV Everywhere access to an 18th channel.
With a number of popular channels now gone, this is a fairly major change to the YouTube TV channel lineup. Below is the full list of all of the Disney-owned channels that have now been removed from YouTube TV.
- ABC News Live
- ACC Network
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- National Geographic
- National Geographic Wild
- ESPN3 (via ESPN app)
- SEC Network
As to why this has happened, the reason is simply distribution. Each live TV streaming service makes agreements with owners to provide channels to their customers. In some cases, like with Disney, one company owns multiple channels and the previous agreement for these Disney-owned channels was due to expire on December 17. As the two companies were unable to agree a new deal, or even an extension while talks continued, the channels listed above were all removed at 9 p.m. PT on 12/17/21.
For reference, the removal of the Disney-owned channels does not just impact on the selection of live TV channels. Any recordings subscribers had made, as well as any on-demand content previously available from these channels, have also now been removed from YouTube TV.
What to do now and options
It remains unclear what will happen going forward. However, the fact the channels have been removed is not a good sign that they will become available again in the near future. That’s not to say they won’t, it just is not a good indicator. For example, a similar situation arose between YouTube TV and NBCUniversal recently, but unlike the current situation, a short extension was agreed between the two to allow the affected channels to remain available. Eventually, this extension provided just enough time for a full agreement to be made and subscribers didn’t lose access to the channels. It is always possible that an agreement will also be made between YouTube TV and Disney at some point, and especially if both feel the pressure from consumers, but the lack of an extension to avoid the channels being removed is a warning sign.
Due to this, some subscribers may need to reevaluate their current subscriptions. For example, those in need of ESPN channels will either need to look for an alternate service that carries ESPN or check to see if a standalone ESPN+ subscription is enough to fill the sports gap. Likewise, those in need of watching FX-related content may want to consider a basic Hulu subscription, or even switching live TV services to Hulu Live TV. It’s worth noting that although Hulu Live TV currently costs $64.99 per month—the same price YouTube TV was before the channels were removed—the cost is due to increase to $69.99 per month on December 21, 2021. When it comes to the various Disney channels, families may want to consider signing up to a standalone Disney+ subscription, or switching to a live TV service that still carries Disney Channel, Disney Jr. and Disney XD.
Needless to say, this change is going to inconvenience a number of existing YouTube TV subscribers, and potentially dissuade some consumers from signing up. YouTube TV does appear to be aware of this, and has looked to soften the blow by discounting the overall cost of a subscription. While the base plan was previously priced at $64.99 per month, from Dec. 17 the monthly price has been reduced down by $15 to $49.99. Those signing up to the live TV service through the YouTube TV website can already take advantage of the new lower rate, while existing consumers can expect to see a $15 credit applied to their post-December 17 monthly bills. In addition, any subscribers that were already receiving some form of a discount or reduction as part of a promotional offer will still see their price lowered by an additional $15 each month.
If an existing YouTube TV subscriber decides to stick with the live TV service at the new lower rate, then they should be aware that their monthly cost will increase to $64.99 once again if a deal is agreed and the channels return. Likewise, any new subscribers that have signed up at the cheaper price will suddenly see their price increase from $49.99 to $64.99 per month if a deal is ever agreed.