What you need to know
- YouTube TV was supposed to lose the Fox RSNs starting Feb. 29.
- But the channels are still here, thanks to an apparent extension.
- This is why we can't have nice things.
Today is Feb. 29, 2020. Leap Day. And the day YouTube TV was supposed to lose access to the Fox Regional Sports Networks as well as the YES Network. Only ... that hasn't happened.
An apparent last-minute reprieve — as noted by a reply from the TeamYouTube Twitter account (which is really no way to pass on news, but here we are) — notes that "Negotiations are still underway! In the meantime, we've agreed to a temporary extension."
That arguably could be worse than having lost the channels as expected; now we still have them, but they could still be going away, and we have no idea when. It's the MPVD version of an abusive relationship.
Meanwhile, Sinclair Broadcast Group released its Q4 2020 earnings on Feb. 26 — just a day before YouTube TV announced things would be changing ahead of baseball season. (Which is a big reason why a lot of folks are so upset.) And, in hindsight, perhaps none of this is surprising. It's all right there on the first page.
Said Sinclair president and CEO Chris Ripley:
"As the owner of the largest group of regional sports networks (RSNs) and a leading provider of local news, Sinclair is well-positioned to capitalize on the most desirable segments of the broadcast and media industry — live local content that resonates with viewers."
The important words there? "Well-positioned to capitalize." That means "we're in a good spot to make a bunch of money off this." And Sinclair's sole purpose is to make money. That's what companies do, and we can't fault them for that.
So what happens next? It's tough to tell. Sinclair has only owned the Fox RSNs since late August 2019. (And it only has a 20 percent stake in the YES Network, which also was caught up in this flap.) And it's clearly looking to make as much money off them as it can — which, again, it's supposed to do.
So maybe YouTube TV and Sinclair come to a long-term agreement and we keep the Fox RSNs, without a price increase being passed on to the subscriber.
Or maybe we start seeing the price we pay for YouTube TV increase again.
Or maybe the Fox RSNs go away for good — like what happened to Sling TV in July 2019.
But this much is clear: When companies fight like this, it's the consumers who once again lose out.
All of this has happened before, and it will happen again.
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