YouTube TV close to deal to continue broadcasting NBC, Bravo and MSNBC
Google’s YouTube TV and NBCUniversal are set to finalize a new distribution deal that will keep 14 NBCUniversal TV channels – including NBC, MSNBC, Bravo, E! and Telemundo – available to YouTube TV subscribers.
The two sides hope to reach a deal this weekend, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who was not allowed to comment.
The move would prevent a blackout of shows such as “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” on Bravo, “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC and “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon,” “NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt “and” Sunday Night Football.
The two sides faced a deadline Thursday night to work out a new distribution pact. There has been progress in the talks this week, and NBCUniversal said Thursday evening that it had agreed to a short-term extension of the deadline.
Earlier in the week, it emerged that YouTube TV could lose the legal rights to broadcast channels owned by NBCUniversal, including regional sports channels and stations affiliated with the NBC network. Google, owner of YouTube TV, had opposed NBCUniversal’s demands for higher fees.
The skirmish between the two media giants is the latest outbreak in the television industry’s longstanding distribution fee wars.
A failure of NBCUniversal channels on YouTube TV would have been a major disruption for subscribers to the popular 4-year-old linear channel service, which has around 4 million subscribers, analysts estimate.
“If NBCU offers us a level playing field, we will renew our agreement with them,” YouTube TV said in a blog post earlier this week. “NBCU is an important partner for us. ”
Amid a migration of traditional subscribers, TV channel owners, including NBCUniversal, have increased the fees they charge distributors in an effort to keep their TV channels highly profitable. These companies argue that programming costs, especially for sports, have skyrocketed and that they need to increase their revenues to cover the increased expenses.
But in recent years, TV distributors have bristled at constant price increases, arguing that TV programmers are making matters worse by contributing to escalating subscription fees that irritate consumers. Distributors claimed that programmers inadvertently help drive out valuable customers.
“The prevalence of cord cuts in the United States and the continuing decline in cable TV viewers complicate distribution deals,” analysts at research firm S&P Global Market Intelligence wrote in a September report. “Traditional multichannel operators face weakening demand due to the rise of over-the-top platforms, but cable programmers continue to demand affiliate rate hikes to keep their business linear. afloat. “
NBCUniversal has used its influence as one of the largest TV channel owners in the industry to increase its rates. It is also one of the few large media companies to own Spanish language channels.
“NBCUniversal is seeking fair rates from Google for the continued distribution by YouTube TV of the only portfolio offering entertainment, Hispanic, news and sports networks,” said the media company owned by Comcast Corp. in a statement earlier in the week.
On Thursday, satellite television giant Dish Networks announced that it had withdrawn from service three regional sports networks owned by AT&T: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, which broadcasts games of the Colorado Rockies; AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, which features Pittsburgh Pirates games; and Root Sports Northwest, which carries the Seattle Mariners and Portland Timbers.
“The stream [regional sports network] model is fundamentally broken, ”said Brian Neylon, Chairman of Dish TV Group, in the company statement. “This model requires almost all customers to pay for RSNs when only a small percentage of customers actually watch them. “