ESPN is off the air on YouTube.
Earlier this week, YouTube announced it will be rolling out a premium plan costing $9.99 per month for exclusive content without any ads. As part of the deal, content creators, like ESPN, were essentially given no alternative other than to participate with YouTube Red, as it is called, or have their content rendered unviewable. The strong-arming ignited a firestorm within the content creator community since many of them felt being bullied into the revenue split.
While many companies complied, ESPN has declined.
Now, many of ESPN’s 13 YouTube channels, which have 3 million subscribers among them, have been mostly stripped of videos. On three of the network’s show pages (SportsNation, First Take and His & Hers) there’s a message displayed reading “This channel has no content.” Grantland’s page also has the same message.
On ESPN’s YouTube channel, which has 1.6 million subscribers alone, videos that are three years and older are the only posts left. That doesn’t mean ESPN’s videos are completely wiped off the Internet: the network is still posting them in its own video player.
ESPN told Digiday that it’s not commenting “at this time.”
Mashable reports the issue revolves around rights since ESPN’s posts a lot of sporting content that “tend to involve many third-party rights that are affected if that work is suddenly not being distributed for free.”
Update 2:50 p.m. ET | ESPN provided this additional comment to Digiday: “ESPN is not currently part of the Red service. Content previously available on the free YouTube service will be available across ESPN digital properties.”
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