SAN BRUNO, Calif./COCKEYSVILLE, Md. (Ambush Sports) — Sports fans may notice their regional Fox sports networks (RSNs) and the YES Network will disappear from their YouTube TV lineups Saturday, as a result of contract negotiations blowing up.
YouTube TV, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., is an OTT streaming service affiliated with the YouTube platform which launched in early 2017 and secured a deal with former owners of the regional sports networks, News Corporation, until the entertainment merger between News Corp.’s entertainment holdings and Disney in spring 2019.
Disney was forced to sell the 21 Fox regional sports networks and Fox College Sports in August 2019, as the result of the agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice surrounding the acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and television properties, in which Sinclair Broadcast Group was the highest bidder at the price tag of $9.6 billion, according to Variety.
“We purchase rights from Sinclair to distribute content to you,” the YouTube TV account said in a post on Twitter. “Despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to reach an agreement with Sinclair. As a result, we will no longer offer Fox Regional Sports Networks, including YES Network, beginning February 29th.”
YouTube TV continues, “We do not take this decision lightly. This is a reflection of the rising cost of sports content. You may have noticed several other TV services have also decided to remove FOX Regional Sports Networks from their lineups. Thank you for your membership as we strive to build the best possible streaming experience for you. You will receive an email today if you’re impacted by this change.”
The YouTube TV/Sinclair dispute over the Fox RSNs comes months after Dish Network removed the networks from their satellite and Sling TV streaming services last summer and Fubo TV, cutting them loose in January.
As sports programming has become the most expensive and least cost-effective content in the television business, Dish has saved $400 million per year by not carrying content from any of the Sinclair-owned Fox RSNs, as estimated by LightShed analyst Rich Greenfield.
YouTube TV reported over two million subscribers at the end of 2019, according to a report from Alphabet, despite rates increasing to $50 per month roughly a year ago.
No comment has been received from any representative of Sinclair as of publication.
With Fox RSNs gone, more room for additional content
Alphabet struck a deal last week with WarnerMedia, which granted YouTube TV carriage rights to HBO and Cinemax, with a commitment to their HBO Max streaming service launching this spring.
HBO is home to Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, sports documentaries, and select boxing events. Cinemax is an HBO subsidiary that also carries occasional sporting events. Both networks also broadcast a variety of programming outside of sports.