NBC gets super aggressive in YouTube TV dispute

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Screenshot: NBCU

NBC is one of several NBCUniversal channels running prominent banner ads on YouTube TV streams, warning customers that they could lose access over a carriage dispute with Google. The banner lists over a dozen channels that could disappear if a deal isn’t reached by Wednesday, September 30th, and directs customers to an NBCU-owned website offering various ways to pressure Google. These include a pre-written tweet directed at YouTube TV, links to Google’s customer support, and a tool to find alternative providers.

“Attention YouTube TV Customers,” the banner, which runs roughly every 10 minutes, reads, “YouTube may drop 14+ channels including NBC, Telemundo, USA, SYFY, Bravo, Oxygen, MSNBC, NBCSN, CNBC, GOLF Channel, and E!. Go to YouNeedChannels.com and tell YouTube TV not to drop your favorite channels.” NBCU warns that regional NBC Sports networks may also be affected, including NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports California, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Philadelphia, SNY and NBC Sports Washington.

Responding via a blog post, Google says negotiations are ongoing and that it’s seeking the “the same rates that services of a similar size get from NBCU” and for YouTube TV to be treated like “any other TV provider.” Google added that if it’s unable to reach an agreement it’ll drop its US prices by $10 (bringing its monthly price down from $64.99 to $54.99) while NBCU’s lineup is off the service. Google says that customers are free to cancel anytime and can sign up for Peacock separately for $4.99 a month.

Variety reports that there are several points of contention in the ongoing negotiations. NBCU is reportedly asking for higher rates for its channels than Google is willing to pay, and wants YouTube TV to bundle NBC’s Peacock video streaming service.

“NBCUniversal is seeking fair rates from Google for YouTube TV’s continued carriage of the only portfolio offering entertainment, Hispanic, news and sports networks,” NBCU told Variety 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.”

This is just the latest high profile dispute YouTube TV has found itself in this year. However, during its clash with Roku it was Google that was the content provider, and Roku that was providing the platform. The situation saw Google’s YouTube TV app removed from the Roku channel store, only for Google to respond by letting its customers access YouTube TV from its regular YouTube app.

Disclosure: Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is also an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.


Hmm… 10 dollars off per month… 10 dollars to get Peacock with no ads. I’d say Google has the upper hand in this one.

I see the reverse. NBC undoubtedly gets more profit from direct peacock subscribers and it looks better to their shareholders to have more people on their services. However, it makes Google’s service less appealing because, as a family subscriber, I now have to jump to another app, I have to manage another subscription, and my DVR doesn’t work with NBC offerings. If NBCs line up goes, I am more willing to look at other IPTV offerings and drop google (especially during football season)

"I have to jump to another app" is the lamest excuse I’ve heard in quite a while. Oh no, how horrible.

It was one of a few reasons, but the whole point of YoutubeTV is that it is a replacement for traditional cable or OTA TV. One of the things that makes it great that you can still channel surf and see what is on live. To me, it harms the product if I no longer get a contiguous experience with one of the major "live tv" content providers and it diminishes the reason I subscribe to the service. But, your trite condescension adds value to the conversation.

Traditional cable and OTA TV can and should die a horrible death. Channels don’t need to be bundled. I may want MSNBC but have no desire for telemundo. Why should I pay for something I don’t want or need? There is a reason and it has nothing to do with what the customer actually wants. I hope google does not budge. I would rather pay less and not have 15 stupid bundled channels I don’t want.

The price of google TV should be different for every person, dependent on what channels they select a la cart. NBCUniversal shouldn’t exist.

Wait, why should OTA TV die a horrible death? It’s the one that’s free.

Because OTA as a model is terrible. With cheap to produce content, constant ads and a business model that that places the viewer as the product being sold.
My kids do not have access to channel surfing at home and watch less TV as a result. When they visit their grandparents, they are fixated on the attention grabbing commercials and are driven to watch more volume of TV with generally lower tier shows.
People with cable also seem to be more likely to just have a TV on in the background all the time.

OTA is critical for local news when the internet may be down. For example during a hurricane or other extreme weather events.
It is also a great option for people that cant afford or dont want to pay for internet or cable.
It also great for sports → HD w/ no lag.

Not saying OTA is great but sometimes it is the better or only option.
It certainly shouldnt die a horrible death.

Streaming is also frequently ad-supported. I think a big growth area will be the free, ad-supported streaming apps. But that just steals the audience even more from OTA. Who needs broadcast when there are 100 broadcast-mimic apps?

People who don’t have internet, either temporarily or permanently.

Whoa err404 – do you know how the internet works?
Constant ads and the individual is the product being sold – far more than OTA.

We get it, your children, sheltered by you from television when home, gorge on it when at the grandparents.

That’s on you more than the ‘model’ of OTA – I think far too many do not remember that for many people, they do not have an easy and affordable streaming model at home. The may either have cruddy internet, like in rural areas, or just not one in the home, being mobile only. They don’t have a great computer, or smart TV. OTA is one-time cost, a cost that can be close to the monthly streaming or cable costs. It provides local news, usually PBS for educational items, and the networks are not full reality shows, they are still doing quality productions.

So go take your protected kids, and show them the world, or they will get addictions when you let them out in the wild…

This plus OTA may be the only thing available for low income folks that can’t afford to pay for streaming or cable.

Lol yeah my children are so sheltered by having minimal exposure to ads and having to a actively decide what they want to watch. How will they survive in the world? I subscribe to PBS, so also they also have access that ad free.
Yes, my children are somewhat privileged, and I am glad to have the option to do so. But just like they don’t need a diet of McDonalds, I will minimize the corporate influences around them so far as is reasonable.
For what it’s worth, they are too young to be using the internet, so that is a non issue. But I do plan to train then to be skeptical of sponsored content.
Honestly I’m surprised as the social pressure to watch ads. What is your time and dignity worth? Just spend a few dollars and take back control.

It’s not "should" die, it’s that it will die or rather wind down to a minimal level with just the cheapest crap content.

You have a la carte, you can subscribe to Peacock content or not. The content bundles don’t ever change. People failed to realize content owners would never break up their bundles.

You’re not wrong, but it’s not like you are not getting $10 less from YT TV…

Live TV has no value except for sports and I guess news too, but nobody below AARP age will pay for news so that means it’s just sports keeping cable and cable-mimics like YouTubeTV. When some good streaming solution for sports emerges (Fubo maybe?) then cable and cable-mimicking streaming will finally be history.

If you’re talking about the psychological need to feel that some show is "live" and therefore more worth watching than another one that’s just sitting there with 7 seasons waiting for you to click, then maybe the likes of Netflix should address that need in their interface better. They already made a stab at it with their random-content generator. It’s just a short step from designating that Stranger Things is "live" at 6pm and then it’s Ozark at 7pm etc.

I get not reading the full article, but can we at least work on reading full sentences…

1. I now have to jump to another app
2. I have to manage another subscription
3. My DVR doesn’t work with NBC offerings

People should just get a Roku TV, the apps are all easily available in the interface, no more burdensome than jumping to another app on an iPhone. I prefer keeping all this stuff separate anyway rather than doing bundles that can unexpectedly go south.

I don’t get this argument at all.

The presumed benefit of YouTube TV is that it’s a hub app for network tv that brings you a package of shows with live and recording options all in one place.

Telling someone it’s a "lame excuse" to not want to have to subscribe to a second service to access content that used to be bundled — all because of petty jockeying by rights holders — feels like a pretty "lame argument" to me.

NBC has to show significant value to get people to pay a dedicated $10. Personally I don’t see enough value in NBC content to subscribe. Whereas if they bundle with YouTube TV they make less per customer, but they gain a ton of viewers who otherwise would not subscribe.
Additionally, the loss of NBC will likely have little impact to the subscriber base for YouTube TV, especially given that viewers can still watch NBC with a dedicated second account at the same price.

Biggest issue are the NBC RSNs, which include Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Phily and DC. You won’t be able to get those on Peacock.

My thought on what I said – ad free… ads sell across all their channels whether you watch them or not, and they’re priced on the number of homes the channel is available. Certainly, the 10 dollars goes direct to their pockets, and they save on headcount too… so, maybe I’m wrong, but lost ad revenue certainly isn’t good because now they’d be selling ads for X minus the number of YTTV subs.

Side note, the local NBC will largely be unaffected, the caveat being owned-and-operated markets like NY and LA.

Actually, I am not sure what leverage NBC thinks it has… I agree man! Give me $10 off YouTube TV and that’s a better deal. That’s because I ALREADY pay the (discounted) 1 year no ads rate for Peacock for WWE PPV programming. So for anyone in my situation it’s juts a $10 a month gain.

But even for those not in my specific situation, I still agree with you. I would bet for the majority of customers $10 off with an option to get that missing content on another app for $5 w/ ads (YTTV has ads too that’s the real comp) is a better deal.

There’s also a free tier of Peacock that lags behind on seasons, but a patient man (more patient than me) would come out way ahead.

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