We were able to get a temporary extension while negotiations are underway! You'll still be able to watch Fox RSNs and the YES Network while we work to reach an agreement. We'll be sure to share an update once we have details on a potential timeline. More to come!— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) February 29, 2020
The notices began filing into YouTube TV's subscribers' inboxes Thursday morning, just after, or just before, the streaming TV service sent out a preemptive tweet.
"Starting February 29, 2020," the email's third paragraph read, "you will no longer be able to watch live, on demand, or recorded content from your local FOX Regional Sports Network or YES Network."
And just like that, the collective hearts of cord-cutters across DFW dropped.
Just got an email from @YoutubeTV that they will no longer be carrying the Fox Sports Regional channels as of Feb 29th from @WeAreSinclair.— j?? s?????? (@JoeSiegler) February 27, 2020
This might be a dealbreaker for me, as I need my @Rangers. I'm hopeful this isn't the final word. Damn @MLB Blackout rules. @TeamYouTube pic.twitter.com/Wo0khuSiIp
What the freaking hell!! @YouTubeTV is dropping @FOXSportsSW and other regional stations! Currently a @dish customer, was gonna drop em next month to switch to YouTube just for FSSW. Now, how am I supposed to watch the @Rangers? pic.twitter.com/9IW1wFXGfS— JB (@its_a_me_JB) February 27, 2020
(Full disclosure: I'm a YouTube TV subscriber and I am, let's say, not happy about this news.)
@Rangers @DallasStars @dallasmavs whatever is going on with @FOXSportsSW is going to kill viewership. Dropped SlingTV when they dropped it, and switched to @YouTubeTV. Now it’s going to be dropped again. Can’t even watch my life long teams anymore. Corporate greed wins out— Jeff Stewart (@StewartRealtyGR) February 27, 2020
Barring further negotiations, Dallas sports fans who are among YouTube TV's two million subscribers will no longer be able to watch the Mavericks, Stars or Rangers live.
Asked by the Observer about whether negotiations were ongoing between Google, which is YouTube TV's parent company, and Sinclair, the owner of Fox Sports' regional affiliates, Google sent us a word-for-word copy of the email they sent to subscribers.
Sinclair, the archconservative media conglomerate behind one of comedian John Oliver's best-ever bits, said in a statement that they offered YouTube TV "the best terms under which their competitors carry our Regional Sports Networks."
"Unfortunately, they alone decided to drop these channels citing 'rising costs' despite our offer to actually lower the fees they pay us," said Ronn Torossian, a Sinclair spokesman. "We also offered to continue negotiating under a short-term extension so that their subscribers could continue to watch their favorite hometown teams. They’ve not yet responded to this offer.
"Given the ease with which YouTube TV subscribers can drop the service and switch providers, we are surprised that they’ve chosen this course. At the very least, you have to imagine YouTube TV will be receiving lots of questions from subscribers asking about how much they intend to lower the subscription fee given that they are removing some of the most popular and in-demand programming they carry."
Since June 2019, Sling TV and Dish Network have also dropped Fox Sports' regional networks, leaving Dallas sports fans looking to keep the channels need to subscribe to Hulu with Live TV, their local cable provider — Spectrum for most Dallas residents — AT&T U-Verse, AT&T Now with Live TV (at the $80 subscription level at least) or DirecTV.
Given Sinclair's repeated struggles to negotiate contracts, there's no telling how long before those providers face their own issues carrying the networks.
Just 28 days until the Rangers' season opener in Seattle. Who knows how many fans will be able to watch it.