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YouTube TV drops MLB Network after carriage deal expires

The logo of YouTube TV. (Logo: Google/Image: The Desk)

Google-owned pay television service YouTube TV says it has dropped the MLB Network after a carriage deal with the channel expired on Tuesday.

The announcement was made in a notice sent to YouTube TV customers that said both sides had negotiated a continuation of the agreement, but were ultimately unable to come to terms for an extension.

YouTube TV says the channel has been removed from its live program guide, and any recordings that were saved from MLB Network in a customer’s cloud DVR have been deleted.

Most customers will be able to watch nationally-televised baseball games on ESPN, TBS and on local Fox stations and affiliates that are carried in YouTube TV’s base programming package, which costs $65 a month.

The expiration of the carriage deal comes less than two months before the start of Major League Baseball’s season. Every professional team will hold their opening day on March 30, marking the first time since 1968 that all MLB teams started their season on the same day.

In a statement, a spokesperson for MLB Network said it was disappointed that the channel wasn’t able to reach a new agreement with YouTube TV, but affirmed the network was open to a deal with the platform in the future.

“With spring training about to start, we regret that YouTube TV has been unwilling to negotiate a fair carriage agreement,” the spokesperson said. “MLB Network has offered terms consistent with what close to 300 other U.S. providers have agreed to for distribution. … With the great demand and value for live baseball content, Major League Baseball’s commitment to MLB Network now and in the future is stronger than ever before, and we remain open and committed to reaching an agreement with YouTube TV as soon as possible.”

YouTube TV says it is continuing conversations with MLB Network with the hopes that the channel will be restored in the near future. MLB Network is majority-owned by the pro sports league, with Warner Bros Discovery, Comcast’s NBC Sports Group, Charter Communications and Cox Communications holding minority stakes in the venture.

Streaming TV viewers who want access to MLB Network can subscribe to Dish Network’s Sling TV, where the channel is available on the “Sports Extra” package for $11 a month on top of Sling TV’s base programming package, which costs $40 a month. The channel is also available on Vidgo, Fubo TV and on DirecTV Stream.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).