Update, October 2, 1:03 p.m.: These two have made up after all! NBCUniversal and YouTube TV both issued statements today confirming continued carriage of NBCUniversal programming. Per YouTube TV: “That means you won’t lose access to any of their channels, and YouTube TV will continue to offer 85+ networks for $64.99.”
Update, September 30, at 10:56 p.m.: With the midnight deadline for a renewed deal looming, NBCU issued this statement: “NBCUniversal and YouTube TV have agreed to a short extension while parties continue talks. NBCUniversal will not go dark on YouTube TV at midnight eastern tonight.” No word yet on how long that extension will be, but we’ll update this post accordingly when we know.
Original post, September 30: If you caught Aaron Rodgers and Mason Crosby eke out a win against the 49ers in the final seconds of Sunday Night Football on YouTube TV, don’t expect to see anything like it anytime soon. NBCU and the live streaming service have yet to reach a deal to renew carriage of NBC, and the deal’s up tonight at midnight. The two have been renegotiating how much YouTube will pay for NBCU programming across its 14 channels and, at one point, over NBCU’s ask that YouTube TV bundle Peacock Premium — another streaming service! — in with the existing subscriptions. That was a head-scratcher, frankly, since one of the biggest selling points of YouTube TV is that you can watch stuff like sports or other live TV on broadcast without paying up for a bundled-up cable subscription. Can you imagine paying for Watch What Happens Live on more than one service? NBCU seems to have come around on this too, a spokesperson telling Vulture that Peacock is no longer on the table as of early Thursday afternoon, though anything could happen, saying instead that NBCU is only looking for fair carriage rates for its portfolio.
Part of the problem is both YouTube and NBC have each walked similar roads before. This year’s Olympics, which could have been a delirious relief from pandemic fatigue and encroaching new variants, were badly marred by low ratings and confusing communication from NBC on whether Peacock users could access them or not. (Many of us did our Olympics spectating down a YouTube hole of highlights from NBC Sports’ account.) And YouTube TV had a messy dispute with Roku last year before its app got booted from Roku, and it had to combine its services with the main YouTube app.
As of Thursday afternoon, both sides have put out statements, but no deal’s been reached. YouTube TV pointed at its blog post from earlier this week, which struck a fatalist tone, saying that if they couldn’t agree, the price of YouTube TV would be discounted by $10 to $54.99/month and that fans of NBCU’s channels (which include USA, Golf, Telemundo, SyFy, and more) on the service could just sign up for Peacock. (And if you just want NBC, buy a cheap HD antenna!) Meanwhile NBCU launched a website, youneedchannels.com, imploring subscribers to agitate about it, the prospects of which look grim. As of 3 p.m. on Thursday, less than 20 tweets had been sent using NBCU’s suggested language. But you never know, maybe we’ll see a last-second reversal. We’ll update this post with news of one as soon as it happens… live.
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