Disney expressed confidence it will be able to renew its distribution deal with Google, in order to keep ABC stations, ESPN and a number of other networks on YouTube TV.
However, the media giant noted that the agreement is set to expire on Friday just before midnight.
“Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution has a highly successful track record of negotiating such agreements with providers of all types and sizes across the country and is committed to working with Google to reach a fair, market-based agreement,” the company said in a statement. “We are optimistic that we can reach a deal and continue to provide their YouTube TV customers with our live sporting events and news coverage plus kids, family and general entertainment programming.”
In a blog post, YouTube said is in “active conversations” with Disney. If the parties can’t reach a deal, we are unable to reach a deal by Friday, it pledged to drop its monthly price by $15, from $64.99 to $49.99, which would be the price as long as the networks remain off YouTube TV.
“We would love every member to stay with our service, but we give you the flexibility to pause or cancel your membership anytime. If you want to continue watching some of Disney’s content, you can consider signing up for their own service, The Disney Bundle, which they offer for $13.99/month,” the blog noted. “We appreciate Disney’s partnership and will share any further updates as we have them.”
In addition to ABC stations and ESPN, the other networks in the balance include Disney-branded channels, FX Networks, Freeform and National Geographic.
The Disney deadline comes as YouTube and parent Google just reached a long-sought settlement with Roku after months of friction, announcing a renewal on the eve of the main YouTube app going dark on the streaming platform. Google’s most recent report on YouTube TV, in fall 2020, found that it had surpassed 3 million subscribers, making it one of the top internet-delivered TV packages. Some Wall Street analysts have estimated it is now north of 4 million, surpassing Disney’s Hulu + Live TV.
Internet TV bundles face even more bruising economics than other pay-TV providers like Comcast and Charter, which are able to offset programming costs with other businesses, like broadband service.
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