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In the wake of the recent news that YouTube will begin offering a subscription service, called YouTube Red, Disney has announced that content from its sports network ESPN will not be available on YouTube. The announcement specifically states that the removal is due to the introduction of YouTube Red.

Disney has not commented on the particular issues it has with YouTube Red, but a YouTube spokesperson told Reuters that ESPN would not be a part of it due to “rights and legal” issues. The specifics of what that means exactly wasn’t specified.

ESPN doesn’t really have the opportunity to deny YouTube Red either, just offering its content on regular old YouTube. While the linked article goes into more detail, the gist is that partners who choose not to sign up for Red will have their videos listed as “private” until they sign the deal.

Some have reacted negatively to YouTube Red in terms of what it means for content creators and the potential money they will receive from those viewers with Red compared to those without it—in other words, what cut they will receive from the subscription fee vs. what they gain in ad revenue.  According to Totalbiscuit, it seems that the money from all subs will go into one large pool, of which each individual partner will receive a percentage from based on the amount of time subscribers spent watching their content.

Whether there was a disagreement about pay, about being forced, or other unknown issues, we don’t know Disney’s full reason for removing ESPN from the service. The content that was previously available through ESPN’s channels is not disappearing, but will instead be showing up in various other ESPN digital properties. This may be an opportunity for Disney to put some investment into, a video hosting service that was recently shut down back in August.

Oddly enough, though, Disney itself has signed a deal to have its content included on YouTube Red, so there may be more behind the scenes issues ESPN has to deal with regarding the various sports leagues it has agreements with when coming to the decision. 

In any case, this is a curious blow for YouTube Red. Not a death knell, not necessarily the beginning of the end, but a large company saying that YouTube Red itself was the issue will definitely have some sort of an effect.

What does this mean for YouTube Red? Will other companies follow suit? 

Andrew Otton

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.