October 1, 2021
With neither side ready to blink just yet, Comcast's NBCUniversal and Google's YouTube TV extended the deadline on their contentious carriage negotiations Thursday night (Sept. 30) but apparently did not resolve any of the issues dividing them.
The temporary extension keeps NBCU’s broadcast TV stations and cable networks on YouTube TV’s multichannel streaming service for the time being while the two sides keep trying to hammer out a new long-term carriage deal for the NBCU properties. But it's not clear how long that temporary extension will last.
In a written statement issued last night, an NBCUniversal spokesperson said "NBCUniversal and YouTube TV have agreed to a short extension while parties continue talks. NBCUniversal will not go dark on YouTube TV at midnight eastern tonight. We will continue to be in touch on next steps as we have more information."
If the two media conglomerates fail to strike a new deal, YouTube TV will lose carriage of all NBC affiliates across the US, not just the broadcast stations that NBCU owns in several major markets. YouTube TV would also lose carriage of NBCU's various cable networks, which include Bravo, CNBC, E!, Golf, MSNBC, Oxygen, Syfy, Telemundo and USA Network, among others.
Although it's not clear how long the extension will last, NBCU's leverage would appear to be highest this weekend before its regular Sunday Night Football telecast. This Sunday night's telecast will feature the highly anticipated return of Tampa Bay Buccaneers' star quarterback Tom Brady to Boston to play his old team, the New England Patriots.
On the other hand, YouTube TV's leverage is on the rise, thanks to its growing success as a virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD). According to the latest industry estimates, YouTube TV now boasts about 4 million paying subscribers nationwide, making it the largest vMVPD in the US.
NBCU and YouTube TV have been ratcheting up the pressure on each other for days now, with each side claiming that the other is not negotiating in good faith. Earlier this week NBCU started warning its viewers that they could lose access to NBCU programming if they subscribed to YouTube TV. YouTube TV shot back that NBCU was not willing to treat YouTube TV like other TV providers and said it would cut its subscription rate by $10 per month if the NBCU programming went black.
A wild card in the carriage negotiations is the fate of Peacock, the TV streaming service that NBCU launched in July 2020. While there have been reports that NBCU was demanding that YouTube TV carry Peacock in its streaming channel lineup, it's not clear if that's still a sticking point.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading
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