The MLB Network was yanked off of YouTube TV on Tuesday after carriage renewal negotiations broke down.
YouTube TV notified subscribers that they were also losing access to MLB Network archival recordings as a result of the unresolved contract dispute.
“We apologize for the news and will continue conversations with the MLB to advocate on your behalf, in the hope of restoring their content on YouTube TV,” YouTube TV stated.
MLB Network has been part of YouTube's $65 Base Plan. It is also one of only a few that carry 4K content as part of YouTube TV's 4K Plus add-on.
MLB’s regular season schedule begins March 30.
"YouTube TV has been unwilling to negotiate a fair carriage agreement... consistent with what close to 300 other US providers have agreed to for distribution," MLB Network stated. “With the great demand and value for live baseball content, Major League Baseball’s commitment to MLB Network now and in the future is stronger than ever before, and we remain open and committed to reaching an agreement with YouTube TV as soon as possible.”
In the meantime, "MLB Network remains widely available throughout the US, including on Altice USA (Optimum), AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications (Spectrum), Comcast, Cox Communications, DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream, DISH, fuboTV, Sling TV, Verizon Fios and many others," the network noted.
Given declining viewership for major league baseball, particularly among Gen Z, a permanent loss of YouTube TV could affect the network’s reach to desirable demographics and potential for sponsorships.
However, the standoff could be resolved quickly, as has been true in some other YouTube battles with media companies. One with Disney in December 2021 resulted in a one-day blackout of ESPN, FX and other Disney channels before being settled.
Last time I checked it was estimated that YouTube TV reached something like 4% of U.S. TV homes so I doubt that this loss in coverage---even if it is extended---will pose a big problem for MLB. As for "Gen Z" viewers, the median age of average telecast MLB viewers on a national basis, is around 55 years so even if all of YouTube TV's MLB viewers were aged under 55, ---which is unlikely----and the resulting loss was reflected in the national surveys, you wouldn't see much of a change.