YouTube TV's latest nightmare for cord-cutters puts ESPN, ABC and more at risk

Youtube TV app on Apple TV home screen
(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

Editor's Note: YouTube TV and Disney failed to reach a deal, and the channels are gone. The original version of this story continues below.

YouTube TV's at it again, and this time subscribers could lose ESPN, ABC and other Disney-owned channels. If YouTube TV and Disney don't reach an agreement by 11:59 p.m. (the time zone isn't specified) on Friday (Dec. 17), there's going to be a major shift in the service's pricing and offerings.

This news comes from The Hollywood Reporter, and it's all highly reminiscent of YouTube TV's similar SNAFU with NBCUniversal. Of course, this is all about money, as a Disney statement quoted by THR notes "Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution has a highly successful track record of negotiating such agreements with providers of all types and sizes across the country and is committed to working with Google to reach a fair, market-based agreement."

In a blog post from YouTube , the Google-owned video platform promised a make-good offer for this possible emergency. It would lower its monthly price to $49, cutting it by $15, until the channels are restored.

That same post also gave YouTube TV and Google's side of the negotiations, stating "Our ask to Disney, as with all our partners, is to treat YouTube TV like any other TV provider — by offering us the same rates that services of a similar size pay, across Disney’s channels for as long as we carry them. If Disney offers us equitable terms, we’ll renew our agreement with them."

As noted above, this is hardly new ground for YouTube TV. NBCUniversal's channels (including NBC, USA and many more) were almost pulled from YouTube TV back in September. While an agreement wasn't reached by the contract-related deadline, an extension was made and then the corporations found agreeable terms. 

We don't know enough about the ins and outs about all of this, but it's hard to see this not being solved in the near future. Both the NBCUniversal vs YouTube TV spat, and the recent YouTube TV vs Roku nonsense, were eventually resolved, and the more-similar situation of NBCUniversal vs YouTube TV took much less time than the Roku problem.

What to do if and when Disney channels leave YouTube TV

This is the kind of situation that seems all too common these days, and the kind of thing that cord-cutters probably wish they could leave behind. But we test all of the best streaming services and have some ideas for if this all goes down the wrong way and you need those Disney-owned channels.

We'd point towards two of the best cable TV alternatives — you should get fuboTV (at $65 per month) if ABC matters more or Sling TV (at $35 per month) if ESPN matters more.

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.