YouTube TV and Sinclair Broadcast Group reached a deal covering most of the Fox regional sports networks — but the internet TV service is dropping two of the RSNs, as well as the Yankees’ YES Network.
The deal between Google and Sinclair will keep 19 of the 21 Sinclair-owned Fox RSNs on YouTube TV. The internet TV service, however, has dropped networks in the U.S.’s two biggest markets: YES in the greater New York area and Fox Sports Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West in the Los Angeles metro area, which carry games from teams including the L.A. Clippers, L.A. Kings, L.A. Angels and Anaheim Ducks. Those three RSNs are no longer carried on YouTube TV effective Wednesday (March 5).
The agreement between Google and Sinclair will keep the 19 RSNs on YouTube TV through the end of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, according to a source familiar with the pact.
“We are pleased that YouTube TV was able to agree to terms on 19 of our RSNs and that they will continue to provide subscribers with access to some of the most in-demand sports networks in the nation,” David Gibber, senior VP and general counsel of Sinclair, said in a statement.
Gibber added, “We value our ongoing relationship with YouTube TV, however, we are deeply disappointed with its decision to not carry certain RSNs. We offered competitive market terms but, ultimately, YouTube TV declined.” Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket are owned and operated by Diamond Sports Group, a joint venture between Sinclair and Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios.
YouTube confirmed the agreement with Sinclair and said in a statement that YouTube TV “will continue carrying the Fox RSNs in select areas only. Affected members who no longer have access to this content will receive a notification in the YouTube TV app soon. We don’t take this decision lightly, and will continue to do our best to make YouTube TV a best-in-class experience.”
Under the new agreement with Sinclair, YouTube TV appears to have curtailed areas where some or all of the 19 Fox RSNs had been available. YouTube says customers can check which channels are available in their ZIP code on its site at tv.youtube.com.
YES Network, in which Sinclair owns an equity stake, issued its own statement about getting dropped by the Google-owned service: “YouTube TV, for its own selfish reasons and with total disregard for its YES customers, has refused to pay the market rate and accept market terms and conditions that other YES distributors have agreed to. In fact, YouTube TV sought a rate that was well below what other YES distributors are paying, and because YES keeps its word to all of its distributors, it could not make the deal.”
Under the deal with Sinclair, YouTube TV will carry the following Fox-branded RSNs: 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, and Fox Sports Wisconsin.
YouTube TV’s carriage deal for the Fox RSNs and YES had been set to expire Feb. 28 at midnight ET; Google agreed to a temporary contract extension with Sinclair while the two sides worked out a new distribution deal.
Last year, Dish Network dropped the Fox RSNs from satellite and Sling TV lineups, while over-the-top TV provider Fubo TV cut them 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.
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.