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NBCUniversal is threatening a lot of cancellations this Fall TV season — warning customers with YouTube TV accounts that over a dozen of its networks could disappear from the platform this week in a petty public throwdown between the old and new media giants.
NBCU's deal with the subscription service expires on Thursday, and NBCU wants more money in a renewal — but YouTube's owner, Google, has balked at coughing up the extra cash. So now NBCU is directing customer complaints at the video giant — griping in a salty statement over the weekend that the search juggernaut is denying fans their "their favorite shows" by "refusing" to pay "fair rates."
YouTube TV launched in 2017 as an on-demand service that lets Americans stream about 100 channels, including the big four U.S. broadcasters: NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox. The service had 3 million subscribers as of October 2020, but only brings in a tiny sliver of Youtube's $20 billion business — most of it in advertising.
That may hint at why Google is unwilling to fork over more moola: it doesn't really stand to lose much. NBCU, meanwhile, would be short 3 million potential viewers across a suite of its most important channels:
- NBC, Telemundo, USA, SYFY, Brave, Oxygen, MSNBC, NBCSN, CNBC, GOLF Channel, and E! could all be gone from Youtube TV by week's end.
- YouTube TV is also considering dropping NBC Sports regional networks in the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, and elsewhere — just as fall sports season is gearing up.
NBCU seems to be showing some desperation. The company set up a website that allows users to send automated tweets at YouTube asking it to keep NBCU channels. It also directs them to Youtube customer service.
Your Money Down: If it doesn't reach an agreement with NBCU, Google said it will slash $10 off Youtube TV's subscription fee, down to $54.99.
Featherweight: NBCU has also been demanding Google bundle its Peacock streaming service into Youtube TV, but again appears to be coming from a position of weakness: Peacock lost $363 million in the second quarter, not exactly a value proposition.