ESPN, ABC are back on YouTube TV following a deal with Disney

The agreement ends a brief but major dispute.

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POLAND - 2019/11/22: In this photo illustration a Youtube TV logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

YouTube TV's battle with Disney is over almost as soon as it began. The two have struck a deal that restores access to ESPN, FX and other Disney channels on YouTube's streaming service. Local ABC stations will come back over the course of the day (December 19th), but you may already see access to any recordings of Disney-owned channels.

The base subscription rate is returning to $65 per month, but YouTube TV promised that "all impacted members" would still receive a one-off $15 discount. More details would be coming through email, the service said.

Disney channels vanished on December 18th after the media giant and YouTube TV failed to reach an agreement on channel carriage fees. As is often the case with disputes like this, each side blamed the other. Disney claimed YouTube TV "declined to reach a fair deal," while YouTube maintained that it was advocating on "behalf" of viewers.

This isn't YouTube TV's only row over carriage deals. The service has traded blows with NBCUniversal and Sinclair, for instance. With that said, the Disney fight may have been one of its most important. It's not just that channels like ESPN remain a major draw for live TV services — it's that Disney could easily have siphoned some of those customers to its equivalent Hulu offering. YouTube may have decided that any increased costs (and possible rate hikes) were less painful than losing viewership.

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