Cutting the cable isn’t as cheap as it used to be. YouTube TV is one of the most dominant players in the TV streaming market, but its price has been raised several times in an effort to maintain its networks — the service originally cost $35/mo, then to $40/mo in 2018, then $50/mo starting last year. Now the service is losing one of its greatest strengths, local sports channels.
YouTube TV made the announcement on its Twitter account (and in emails sent to subscribers) that it will no longer carry regional Fox sports channels and the YES Network, citing increased costs from Sinclair Broadcast Group. Fox was required to sell off its regional networks last year as part of regulatory concessions, so Fox could be acquired by Disney, and Sinclair purchased most of the channels for $10.6 billion.
To bring you 70+ channels, we have contracts with content owners that are periodically renegotiated. Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of FOX Regional Sports Networks and YES Network, is one of the largest owners of local TV stations in the US.
We purchase rights from Sinclair to distribute content to you. Despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to reach an agreement with Sinclair. As a result, we will no longer offer FOX Regional Sports Networks, including YES Network, beginning February 29th.
We do not take this decision lightly. This is a reflection of the rising cost of sports content. You may have noticed several other TV services have also decided to remove FOX Regional Sports Networks from their lineups.
Thank you for your membership as we strive to build the best possible streaming experience for you. You will receive an email today if you’re impacted by this change.
As hinted at by YouTube, Sling TV and fuboTV also recently dropped regional Fox networks from their services, with both companies also citing increased costs. That leaves Hulu and AT&T TV Now as the only remaining TV streaming services with the channels. The national Fox Sports channels (FS1/FS2) are owned by Fox Corporation, not Sinclair, so they should not be affected.
The loss of the channels might have been more forgiving if YouTube TV dropped the price at the same time, but no such action was announced. Perhaps YouTube is hoping that the channels will return at some point (public slapping fights is a common factor in network negotiations), or is planning to pay for other networks to fill the content gap.