Well, this is interesting. In some impressive turn of events, Google has managed to restore Disney-owned channels to Youtube TV including ESPN and FX just one day after the two companies lapsed on their deal. Any users who had recordings of any content found on these channels or watched the local ABC station that came with the package has had these restored as well.
Over on Twitter, the service announced the update by stating that they have reached a deal with Disney and have already begun to restore access. Anyone who doesn’t see their local ABC channel come back to life right away should wait until at least the end of the day as it’s slowly rolling back out.
I’m going to be honest here and say that I really don’t know what Google had to offer Disney to get them to keep their channels on the platform. Just yesterday, I spoke about the fact that it seemed like the success of Disney+ meant this was the perfect time for the Mouse to take the cheese and not look back, even if it meant they were sacrificing a ton of viewership in the transition, but it seems they may have had a change of heart. Even though their deal with Google lapsed, perhaps they realized there’s a more graceful and gradual way to leave them in the dust.
Something that I want to clarify as a commenter pointed out yesterday is that The Disney Bundle that was recommended as a replacement for Disney-owned channels on Youtube TV does not actually come with the specific ESPN channels that were previously removed or a local ABC channel (Thanks, Conrad!)
One user on Twitter is stating that their bill is not restoring to the full $64.99 USD price and is instead reflecting $84.99 USD, but as I’ve stated before today, the base price is the aforementioned $64.99, and any add-on channels you currently pay for will remain attached, so don’t be fooled!
Youtube TV is still giving all impacted members a one-time $15 discount for all of the headache and drama, but despite this, the loyalty of many members has come into serious question. Twitter itself was flooded with thousands of users going back and forth about whether or not to leave the service once and for all, and many of them were comparing Hulu’s offerings to that of Google’s, and of course, the crowd was split.
Unlimited cloud DVR and fewer feature restrictions than the Disney-owned Hulu as well as other benefits have caused the majority of users to stick with Google, but remain seriously annoyed at all of the contract disputes with its content partners over the past year. I stand by the fact that this was probably Disney’s idea as Google knows it can’t afford to continue to lapse on these deals and lose channels for its users, but I’m concerned with the strings it must have had to pull in order to get Disney back.
I mean, we don’t know what caused the deal to be placed back on the table, but since it likely offered a much larger sum of money to restore everything after just one day, then maybe it should have done that before to avoid disrupting millions of users instead of playing chicken on the playground. Ultimately, this sort of sacrifice and turmoil, especially if means Youtube TV continues to bleed money to make things work out between all parties, could one day cause more problems than it solves.