YouTube TV drops some Sinclair-owned regional sports networks

(Logo: Sinclair Broadcast Group/Handout, Graphic: The Desk)

Streaming television service YouTube TV has reached an agreement with Sinclair Broadcasting Group over a handful of Fox Sports-branded regional networks, but the agreement means fans in the country’s two-largest television markets will have to go without some sports programming.

Details of the agreement has not been made public by either company, but The Desk understands regional sports channels in Los Angeles and New York City aren’t covered by the deal.

That affects Fox Sports West, Fox Sports Prime and the YES Network, according to a person familiar with the deal.

In a statement posted to social media on Thursday, an official with the YES Network said YouTube TV had decided to drop its “for its own selfish reasons and with total disregard for its YES customers.”

The company said YouTube TV “refused to pay the market rate and accept market terms and conditions that other distributors have agreed to.”

YouTube TV was accused by Sinclair on Thursday of seeking “a rate that was well below” what other distributors were said to pay for the channels.

On February 27, YouTube TV warned customers it would likely drop the channels at the end of that month after both sides failed to reach a new agreement that covered the regional sports networks.

Sinclair fired back, saying it not only offered to allow YouTube TV to continue carrying the channels under a temporary extension but also offered to charge YouTube TV a lower fee in exchange for the rights to distribute the channels to customers.

Earlier this week, both sides reach a temporary agreement that kept the Fox Sports-branded channels and the YES Network on the service, but customers confirmed via social media that the channels were unavailable early Thursday morning.

YouTube TV, owned by Google, is the latest pay television company to drop the channels within the last year. Dish Network dropped the channels from its legacy satellite platform and streaming service Sling TV last year; a Dish executive said the channels were unlikely to reappear anytime soon.

Fubo TV, a startup streaming service that focuses primarily on sports programming, also dropped the channels last year.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said YouTube TV had removed all Sinclair-owned Fox Sports-branded regional channels. Only a handful of regional sports channels have been removed from the service.

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