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YouTube TV, NBC reach extension to stave off disappearing NBC channels

YouTube TV's deal to carry NBCUniversal networks -- including USA, E!, CNBC, Bravo and NBC with NFL Sunday Night Football -- will continue after an agreement was reached over the weekend.

Google's YouTube TV is a live-channel streaming service. 
Sarah Tew/CNET

YouTube TV, Google's popular live-channel streaming service, was set to lose access to all channels from Comcast's NBCUniversal late Thursday, but the two companies have reached a new carriage agreement to replace the one that was originally set to expire on Friday night. 

The news was announced over the weekend, after the two parties agreed to a temporary extension. 

"We're thrilled to share that we've reached a deal to continue carrying the full NBCUniversal portfolio of channels," says an update on the YouTube TV blog. "That means you won't lose access to any of their channels, and YouTube TV will continue to offer 85+ networks for $64.99. We appreciate NBCUniversal's willingness to work toward an agreement, and we also appreciate your patience as we negotiated with them on your behalf."

YouTube TV previously said it would discount its customers' bills by $10 a month if the NBC networks went missing. 

Both companies noted to their customers that the channels' programming is also available to stream on Peacock, NBCUniversal's streaming service. Much of Peacock is free to watch with advertising, and higher-interest programming like live NFL games are available with either a $5- or $10-a-month paid subscription. 

Carriage disputes between programmers and distributors are nothing new. For years, they've been a routine annoyance for customers of traditional cable and satellite TV. But up until about 2020, these kinds of service "blackouts" were one of the ways streaming set itself apart from the aggravations of television's past. 

In the last year and a half, however, these battles have cropped up in the streaming realm too. The rollouts of new streaming services HBO Max and Peacock were marred by a failure to launch on either Roku or Amazon Fire TV in 2020. More recently, YouTube TV has been in a continuing standoff with Roku. Since their deal ended in April, YouTube TV has remained available to stream on Roku, but Roku removed the YouTube TV app from its channel store -- meaning only preexisting subscribers who downloaded it before their face-off can still stream YouTube TV in its dedicated app. New customers must watch it within the main YouTube app on Roku instead.  

The latest standoff with NBCUniversal puts YouTube TV in the position of the hunkered-down distributor; in its face-off with Roku, YouTube TV is the programmer planting its feet against distributor Roku. Regardless of which side of the dynamic these streaming services and devices exist on, these fights underscore how companies are agitating to get the upper hand as the future of TV evolves rapidly toward streaming. 

NBCUniversal's channels include its NBC broadcast network, USA, Telemundo, Universo, Bravo, E!, SyFy, Oxygen, CNBC and MSNBC. 

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