YouTube TV's cord-cutter nightmare delayed as NBCU channels stay for now

Cord-cutting in front of the Youtube TV logo
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

YouTube TV users woke up this morning with their NBCUniversal channels intact (though there's still that warning about them at the top of the screen). Thursday, we'd been told, was supposed to be the cut-off for NBCU networks (such as Bravo, E!, USA and NBC affiliates) to possibly leave the service if a new contract could not be negotiated.

The stay of execution, though, did not arrive from a new agreement. In an email sent out late Thursday night, an NBCUniversal spokesperson announced that "NBCUniversal and YouTube TV have agreed to a short extension while parties continue talks. NBCUniversal will not go dark on YouTube TV at midnight eastern tonight."

This is a minor win for YouTube TV customers, though they'd probably be happier today if the two sides buried the hatchets all together. The continuation of service, though, is huge for those customers who need the Bravo, E!, Telemundo, USA, SyFy, Oxygen, CNBC, MSNBC, Universo, The Golf Channel, Universal Kids and NBC Sports Network.

This is not a minor weekend for NBC, either, as Sunday Night Football's marquee matchup of the Buccaneers and Tom Brady returning to New England to face his old team and coach. Plus, Saturday Night Live returns with Owen Wilson and Kacey Musgraves.

Money and Peacock to be blamed for NBCU and YouTube TV's spat

Wondering how we got here? Variety, reports that NBCU is asking for higher rates than YouTube TV (and parent company Google) want to pay. NBCU fired back that it's merely "seeking fair rates." Oh, and Google's claimed that NBCU is demanding that its Peacock streaming service be bundled into YouTube TV subscriptions (which would likely raise prices) but you'd still need to use the Peacock app. Weird.

Speaking of Peacock, YouTube TV's statement to the public said it will "decrease [its] monthly price by $10, from $64.99 to $54.99," were the parties not able to agree. And it noted that Peacock Premium is $4.99, half of the discount. But while Peacock Premium would have Sunday Night Football, it wouldn't have live NBC networks.

Analysis: YouTube TV's biggest problem is platforms

Not only does it seem like YouTube TV could lose NBCU channels at any moment now, but it's not the only issue this service (one of the best cable TV alternatives) faces. 

YouTube TV's main app was booted from the Roku store due to, you guessed it, an inter-company dispute. Now, YouTube TV is buried inside of the YouTube app on Roku, which isn't a great experience.

If YouTube TV wants to be known for positive things like its unlimited DVR cap and excellent interface — and not this sort of availability nonsense and price hikes, as it went up $30 in 3 years: from $35 in 2017 to $65 in 2020 — it needs to get these issues ironed out. And soon.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.