YouTube TV drops ESPN, other Disney-owned channels

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Cord-cutters had the plug pulled on them at midnight on Saturday morning as YouTube TV dropped Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, after failing to reach a carriage agreement.

For the large contingent of people who subscribed to the service so they could watch live sports, that means they’ll be looking for a new service.

YouTube TV is believed to have about 3 million subscribers, per The Boston Globe. While Disney content is off its platform, Google has said it will drop its monthly price by $15, to $49.99.

Still, the timing couldn’t be worse. The outage happened as ESPN2 was showing an FCS semifinal game between James Madison and North Dakota State. ESPN also holds the rights to 41 college football bowl games, including the College Football Playoff and national championship games.

In some markets, YouTube TV also doesn’t carry the local regional sports network, giving no incentive for fans to stay on board without ESPN. That includes New York, where it doesn’t have YES Network, and Boston, where NESN is off the service.

Since Disney owns YouTube TV’s main competitor, Hulu Plus, it’s an easy opportunity to gain a leg up. An extended dispute could mean a serious drop in subscribers for YouTube TV, especially if it doesn’t carry ESPN through the college football postseason.

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