YouTube TV, NBCU agree on extension while other blackouts occur

YouTube TV and NBCUniversal agreed to an extension to keep NBCU’s channels on the streaming service while a new agreement is hashed out but blackouts occurred elsewhere.

NBCU’s carriage deal with YouTube TV was set to expire at midnight on Thursday but the companies have agreed to keep all local NBC and Telemundo stations, the NBC Sports regional sports networks and the company’s cable channels on the service for a while longer as negotiations continue.

“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,” said an NBCUniversal spokesperson in a statement.

The extension seems like the positive sign, but negotiations among other programmers and distributors didn’t go so well this week.

Comcast didn’t reach a new agreement with MSG Networks and it’s led to the channels—which provide live games for the New York Knicks, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and New York Islanders—being dropped from Xfinity in New Jersey and Connecticut.

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“Right when fans are looking forward to the start of the NBA and NHL seasons, Comcast dropped MSG Networks to try to force us to accept terms they’d never agree to for their own regional sports networks, including SNY in New York,” said MSG Networks in a statement. “They rejected proposals that are consistent with their current deal and deals we have with other major providers, as well as our offer to keep our programming on air under existing terms so we could continue to work on a longer-term agreement."

MSG Networks claimed that Comcast is continuing to charge Xfinity customers the same monthly rate in addition to a regional sports fee that increased 22% in January despite dropping the channels.

Comcast fired back and it shouldn't have pay such high rates for sports content that it said draws extremely low viewership in its markets.

"According to our data, customer viewership of the MSG networks is virtually non-existent. Almost 95% of all customers who received MSG over the past year did not watch more than 10 of the approximately 240 games it broadcast," a Comcast spokesperson said in a statement. "Additionally, up to 80% of customers didn’t watch any MSG content at all each month in that timeframe. We have successfully negotiated thousands of agreements with programmers and reached agreements in almost every instance and are disappointed that MSG decided to pull their content rather than reach a fair agreement.”

At the same time, the AT&T SportsNet and Root Sports RSNs were removed from Dish TV, taking away customer access to AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh and Root Sports Northwest.

“The current RSN model is fundamentally broken,” said Brian Neylon, group president at Dish TV. “This model requires nearly all customers to pay for RSNs when only a small percentage of customers actually watch them.”

Dish TV has proposed an alternative model that would allow its customers to choose to subscribe to the RSN channels they want on an a la carte basis, but claimed that AT&T refused.