Google’s YouTube is ending 2021 on a high note – and with more for its subscribers. After reaching a deal to keep YouTube on Roku’s streaming platform, Disney and Google came to terms on Sunday to distribute Disney’s various channels on subscriber-based YouTube TV.
"We appreciate Google's (GOOGL) collaboration to reach fair terms that are consistent with the market, and we're thrilled that our robust lineup of live sports and news plus kids, family and general entertainment programming is in the process of being restored to YouTube TV subscribers across the country," Disney said in a statement Sunday.
The two sides failed on their original attempt to find a deal on Friday. Google decided to play hardball by dropping Disney-owned channels such as ESPN and ABC from its platform. It even decided to offer subscribers a $15 discount while Disney programming was sitting on the sidelines.
The gambit worked, Disney returned to the negotiating table, and YouTube TV started restoring access to Disney-owned channels – including FX, National Geographic, the ACC and SEC sports networks, and local TV stations that carried Disney’s ABC-TV network.
Unhappy YouTubeTV users will get $15 back
YouTubeTV said it will stand behind the $15 discount it promised to subscribers who were impacted by Disney’s content missing in action from YouTubeTV.
“For active members who have not yet received that $15 discount on their monthly bill, you will automatically receive a one-time credit on your next bill with no action needed,” YouTubeTV said in a blog post.
“For members who were impacted and have initiated the cancellation process, we would love to welcome you back. Visit tv.youtube.com/membership and click ‘Add’ to return the Base Plan to your membership. If you resume your membership before you lose access, we will still honor the one-time $15 credit on your bill. We’ll update this website soon with more details.”
Rate hikes may be coming
Cord-Cutter Confidential’s Jerad Newman told ConsumerAffairs that he was surprised the blackout happened in the first place, but he wasn’t surprised that the companies resolved their differences quickly.
“The only question now is whether the new deal will result in more price hikes to come,” he said.
Newman stated that when streaming companies like Disney and YouTubeTV square off, it often comes down to how much subscribers are forced to pay to get those services.
“Just like on the cable and satellite side, TV networks are constantly pushing for higher carriage fees, while providers such as YouTube TV want to keep prices down to avoid driving customers away,” Newman wrote in a blog post
Even if YouTubeTV got what it wanted, Newman said Disney still holds the cards on what piece of the action it wants for itself. Although YouTubeTV hasn’t raised its rates for more than a year, it’s possible that prices may go up now that it’s added the Hallmark channels and presumably agreed to pay something extra to keep Disney in its line-up.
“Given that Disney’s bundle channels are the most expensive on cable, it’s hard to see YouTube TV’s costs going anywhere but up in the end,” he said.