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YouTube TV, Sinclair agree to contract reprieve

YouTube TV has agreed to a temporary reprieve in its carriage battle with Sinclair Broadcast Group, keeping Fox regional sports networks on the prominent streaming platform for the time being.

The OTT service originally planned to no longer carry the networks beginning February 29, citing rising costs for the programming. But following continued discussions between the two sides, YouTube on February 28 announced a short-term agreement to keep the channels available.

The deal covers both the set of Fox regional networks it acquired last year, as well as the New York-based YES Network, which shows games from Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees and the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets, and is governed by a different ownership structure that also involves Sinclair.

“We have agreed to a temporary extension!,” YouTube tweeted. “Fox Regional Sports Networks and YES Network are still available on YouTube TV while we work to reach an an agreement. We’ll be sure to share an update as soon as we have more info on a potential timeline. More to come!”

Such carriage fights have been common in US linear TV for many years. But their migrating to OTT platforms shows something of a maturation of that space. YouTube TV now have more than 2m subscribers, according to corporate parent Google. And as the service continues to grow, it has expressed many of the same complaints about the rising cost of sports programming as its TV counterparts.

Sling TV and fubo TV have already dropped the Fox RSNs from their services.

Sinclair, meanwhile, has created a website, keepmyhometeams.com, which provides information for consumers to switch their video provider if their current one drops the Fox regional channels. The YES Network has a similar page of its own with alternative providers.

This is not the only problem distribution area for Sinclair, as it also trying to get the new Marquee Sports Network, its joint venture with MLB’s Chicago Cubs, on the air with Comcast, the leading distributor in the Chicago area. That channel has debuted to a rocky beginning, in part because of the lack of full distribution in its home market.