YouTube TV customers for now still have access to Fox Sports-branded regional sports networks and YES Network, after Google agreed to a temporary contract extension with Sinclair Broadcast Group while the two sides try to hammer out a new distribution deal.
YouTube TV’s carriage deal for the Fox RSNs and YES had been set to expire Friday at midnight ET, and YouTube had previously said it would drop the sports channels on Saturday, Feb. 29 after failing to reach a renewal with Sinclair, which acquired the 21 sports nets and a stake in YES Network from Disney last year.
The TeamYouTube account on Twitter said in several updates Friday night and Saturday morning that it agreed to a temporary extension with Sinclair to keep the Fox RSNs and YES available during deal talks. “We’re waiting for an update on the agreement we’re working on with them,” TeamYouTube said in one tweet.
YouTube previously confirmed that it would not cut the price of the $50-per-month TV package in the event the Fox RSNs went dark. “We don’t have plans to lower the cost at this time – this change is a reflection of the rising cost of sports content,” the Google-owned video service said. A Sinclair rep said Thursday that the broadcaster had offered YouTube TV “the best terms under which their competitors carry our regional sports networks.”
Such carriage fights have been part of the pay-TV landscape for years — and sports networks in particular are the priciest properties on the dial. The YouTube-Sinclair public spat comes after Dish Network dropped the Fox RSNs from satellite and Sling TV lineups in July 2019 and Fubo TV cut them from its subscription-streaming service in January.
A Sinclair-hosted site, keepmyhometeams.com, provides info on how sports fans can switch providers if their pay-TV service has dropped the Fox RSNs. YES Network, whose owners include Sinclair, the New York Yankees and Amazon, put up its own page about the YouTube TV situation here.
YouTube TV had over 2 million subscribers at the end of 2019, according to Google. The streaming service includes 70-plus channels including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC (with all four in 98% of U.S. markets), plus cable nets including ESPN, HGTV, TNT, AMC, Food Network, CNN and Fox News.
Sinclair acquired the 21 Fox regional sports networks from Disney, which was required to divest the RSNs as part of securing Justice Department approval of its deal for 21st Century Fox’s film and TV businesses. Under a separate pact with Disney, Sinclair acquired an interest in YES Network, which carries New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games.
Meanwhile, Sinclair is also currently the midst of renegotiating an RSN deal with Comcast. Sinclair earlier this month launched Marquee, a new sports networks for the Chicago Cubs, for which it says it has carriage deals with more than 40 distributors including DirecTV, Charter, Hulu and AT&T TV Now.
The Sinclair-owned Fox Sports regional networks serve as the TV homes for 15 MLB teams, 17 NBA teams and 13 NHL teams. The 21 RSNs are: Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Carolinas, Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Florida, Fox Sports Indiana, Fox Sports Kansas City, Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports New Orleans, Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sportstime Ohio, Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports Prime Ticket (L.A.), Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Southeast, Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Sun, Fox Sports Tennessee, Fox Sports West and Fox Sports Wisconsin.
Here’s a map from Sinclair showing the teams affiliated with the Fox RSNs: