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YouTube TV abruptly drops MLB Network as spring training approaches

YouTube TV abruptly drops MLB Network as spring training approaches


The carriage dispute strikes again, this time creating a rift between YouTube and Major League Baseball. As always, subscribers are the ones who really lose out.

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2022 World Series Game 6: Philadelphia Phillies v. Houston Astros
Photo by Rob Tringali / MLB Photos via Getty Images

YouTube TV might be working to refine and improve its user experience, but like every other subscription TV service, its customers are always at risk of losing channels out of the blue. MLB Network is the latest to vanish from the service with little warning. YouTube TV emailed subscribers yesterday, giving them the heads-up that the channel would be going away… by the end of that same day. Now it’s February, and MLB Network is gone. 

Subscribers are raising the usual complaints, asking the right questions, and threatening to cancel. Shouldn’t the monthly price go down? (Sadly, it never works that way.) Will they get things figured out by the regular season? (Maybe, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.)

Any cloud DVR recordings from MLB Network will be lost as a result of the channel’s removal. In a statement to Deadline, MLB Network said “with Spring Training about to start, we regret that YouTube TV has been unwilling to negotiate a fair carriage agreement. MLB Network has offered terms consistent with what close to 300 other U.S. providers have agreed to for distribution.” It’s the same story and the same talking points. Every time. Both sides say they’ll continue efforts to reach a new deal.

This isn’t the first time YouTube TV has taken the scalpel to sports programming: it dropped the YES Network and NESN (New England Sports Network) a few years ago, with several other Sinclair-owned regional sports networks also going offline. YouTube TV subscribers will still be able to catch games on ESPN, Fox, and TBS. But if you’re a fan of MLB Network shows like MLB Tonight, you’re out of luck unless there’s a new agreement.

This one comment from Reddit really encapsulates the frustrating cycle that some people find themselves in when they lose a favorite channel and peruse other services — only to wind up right back where they started:

YouTube and Major League Baseball have had what appears from the outside to be an affable working relationship in recent years, with the former sponsoring the World Series and exclusively streaming numerous games in 2022. But that wasn’t enough to prevent yet another carriage dispute.

As baseball fans voice their frustrations, NFL diehards have more to be excited about. And in the soccer world, Apple today kicked off its MLS Season Pass for $14.99 per month or $99 for the whole season.