Remember when we said that 99% of content creators on YouTube signed on for YouTube Red because the only other option was to have all their videos taken down? Well it looks like ESPN was one of the 1% that refused. Due to contracts that it has in place, ESPN doesn’t have permission to distribute its videos through a subscription service like YouTube Red, which is why most of ESPN’s video content was pulled from YouTube yesterday.
The fallout from YouTube Red, its forthcoming ad-free subscription service, is already underway. Today, the majority of ESPN’s video content has been pulled off of YouTube in the US, as the sports network currently can’t participate in the YouTube Red service due to rights issues surrounding its content. Though TechCrunch can now confirm that parent company Disney does have a deal with YouTube Red, ESPN itself doesn’t have permission to distribute its videos through a subscription video service like YouTube Red due to other contracts in has in place – including those with various distribution partners. And because YouTube creators have to sign YouTube Red’s subscription deal or see their videos pulled from YouTube, much of ESPN’s content across a number of its channels is now gone in the US. The change to ESPN’s YouTube channel was initially spotted by Deadspin, which found that most of ESPN’s channels were affected, including its main channel as well as other popular channels like Grantland, First Take, and the NBA on ESPN, for example. In total, 11 of ESPN’s 13 channels are impacted by this issue, while only X-Games and Nacion ESPN are still live.