Well OK folks here we are. I guess it’s now time to start truly wondering if we’re going to see a black out between Disney and YouTube TV. Unlike the more recent disagreements between YouTube and Roku, which were hashed out a day before the deadline here we are on the day of without an announcement from either side. That could change within minutes of this article being published and I’ll get a bunch of comments about they worked it out blah blah blah but at 1:15 PM Friday there is still no agreement in place. For the record I would really expect to see this worked out very soon. If not today then sometime into the weekend. But as with anything I could be wrong.
This publication is loath to jump on alarmist headlines in the streaming world as there are plenty of others out there more than willing to fill that niche but it is safe to say that losing Disney’s channels from the Disney Channel and its associated networks itself to Freeform and the big elephant in the room ESPN, losing that kind of lineup it’s going to take a real hit out of any TV service.
YouTube is promising customers that they will pay less for the service if those channels do in fact fall out of the lineup but the fact that it’s happening halfway through a month could spell big trouble for YouTube TV. If it really loses Disney’s lineup for the next couple of weeks there could be a lot of people canceling the service in favor of Disney’s very own Hulu with live TV. You can better believe Hulu with live TV is not going to have a any trouble getting Disney‘s networks on the service.
YouTube’s approach of encouraging people to check out Peacock in reference to its disagreements with Comcast earlier in the year will not work for customers who want to watch college football’s national championship game on TV.
What this all really comes down to it Sports. And while Disney has a gargantuan lineup of related networks it is the family of ESPN content networks that justifiably get the most attention in this conflict. Sports is the thing that all of these cable replacement networks build their marketing around. And if a service were to lose access to ESPN over a prolonged period right now it would lose the interest of those prioritize it. And unlike years past there isn’t a major cable replacement service that does not offer ESPN and other ESPN channels. It would make a YouTube TV stand out amongst its rivals.
Wild YouTube could re-market itself as a more robust version of something like Philo that is not the sort of branding that YouTube TV has.
One has to wonder if Disney is factoring in its own services with this fight in an attempt to gain more subscribers to the Disney+ bundle, and Hulu with live TV which is almost identically priced with YouTube TV. If I were a cutthroat Disney executive I would make the point we aren’t going to lose our own contact get our service instead.
So while I would still expect to see things worked out by the Weeknd this now bears really watching.