YouTube TV Drops Sinclair Channels, Effectively Eliminating Possibility of Marquee Carriage

During a Thursday interview on 670 The Score, Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney called YouTube TV “more of an unknown” than Marquee Sports Network’s other carrier partners. Mere hours later, the streaming service announced via Twitter that it will no longer offer Sinclair Broadcast Group television properties on its platform after failing to reach an agreement on a renegotiation of its carriage contract.

“To bring you 70+ channels, we have contracts with content owners that are periodically renegotiated,” the statement read. “Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner of FOX Regional Sports Networks and YES Network, is one of the largest owners of local TV stations in the US.

“We purchase rights from Sinclair to distribute content to you. Despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to reach an agreement with Sinclair. As a result, we will no longer offer FOX Regional Sports Networks, including YES Network, beginning February 29th.

“We do not take this decision lightly. This is a reflection of the rising cost of sports content. You may have noticed several other TV services have also decided to remove FOX Regional Sports Networks from their lineups.

“Thank you for your membership as we strive to build the best possible streaming experience for you. You will receive an email today if you’re impacted by this change.”

This effectively ends hope for Cubs fans who have waiting to see whether Marquee will be on YouTube TV, since Sinclair is the Cubs’ partner on the new network. Kenney noted how YouTube’s “strategic position” is based on the “demographic of their subscribers,” which basically means the service doesn’t believe sports are a key value prop.

The same is true for DISH Network, likely the top dog among the “several other TV services” that have dropped FOX RSNs. As much as sports fans might struggle to understand it, this is really a way to draw a line in the sand and to differentiate service in the changing era of television service. For instance, YouTube TV and DISH have established themselves as better options for the non-sports fans.

More than just a matter of luring people by thumbing their noses at these RSNs, it may be a matter of lowering monthly costs due the lack of carriage fees imposed by those added channels. If you’re not into athletic competition, maybe you’d be willing to shift your service in order to avoid paying more for stuff you don’t care about.

If you’re a Cubs fan, however, you may not want to sign up for or maintain a subscription with YouTube TV. This is still a developing situation, so we’ll bring you updates as needed.

Update: Maybe things aren’t so set in stone after all…

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