UPDATED: Another carriage fight has burst into public view: NBCUniversal on Sunday said it was notifying customers with YouTube TV that more than 14 of its networks, including local NBC channels, could go dark on the streaming service in a matter of days.
NBCU’s deal with YouTube TV is set to expire Thursday, Sept. 30. Google is unwilling to pay the higher rates the media conglomerate is asking in the renewal talks, according to NBCU.
Google said that if it can’t reach a deal by Sept. 30, it will reduce YouTube TV’s monthly subscription fee by $10 per month while the NBCU nets are dark.
“NBCUniversal is seeking fair rates from Google for YouTube TV’s continued carriage of the only portfolio offering entertainment, Hispanic, news and sports networks,” the media company said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Google is refusing to make a deal at these fair rates and is willing to withhold entertainment, news and sports programming from their paying customers. NBCUniversal feels a responsibility to inform our fans that they are at risk of losing their favorite shows if Google continues with their demands.”
In a blog post responding to NBCU, Google said it is asking that “NBCU treats YouTube TV like any other TV provider. In other words, for the duration of our agreement, YouTube TV seeks the same rates that services of a similar size get from NBCU so we can continue offering YouTube TV to members at a competitive and fair price.”
“If NBCU offers us equitable terms, we’ll renew our agreement with them. However, if we are unable to reach a deal by Thursday, the NBCU lineup of channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will decrease our monthly price by $10, from $64.99 to $54.99 (while this content remains off our platform),” the internet company said.
According to Google, NBCU has asked that YouTube TV bundle Peacock, NBC’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service. That would mean that, in some cases, subscribers pay twice for the same content. In addition, subscribers would need to download and use the Peacock app separately from YouTube TV.
Google added, “NBCU is an important partner for us and as you can imagine, this is not the outcome that we want. We’re still in active conversations with NBCU and are hopeful we can get past this impasse to keep their content available on YouTube TV.”
NBCU is directing viewers to a newly launched website, youneedchannels.com, which says that if the companies don’t reach an agreement YouTube TV subscribers might lose NBC, Bravo, CNBC, E!, Golf Channel, MSNBC, Oxygen, Syfy, Telemundo, the Olympic Channel, Universal Kids, Universo and USA Network.
In addition, YouTube TV may also drop NBC Sports regional networks including NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Philadelphia, SNY and NBC Sports Washington.
The site NBCU set up for the YouTube TV contract fight also encourages visitors to send a tweet auto-populated with this message: “@youtubetv don’t drop my favorite channels like NBC, Telemundo, USA, Bravo, MSNBC, NBCSN, GOLF Channel, SYFY and more. I deserve the channels I pay for!” A section called “Switch Providers” provides a list of other pay-TV providers in a site visitor’s ZIP code with URLs and phone numbers, and it also includes a link to YouTube TV’s live-chat online customer support.
In announcing the campaign, NBCU claimed it has “a near perfect record of completing carriage agreements without network drops.” The company also noted that September “marks the beginning of a new primetime broadcast season and the beginning of the NFL football season.”