The streaming wars aren’t looking the peachiest today for Roku users, who may not be pleased with a YouTube TV development. Granted, the news today isn’t a complete red alert, although it might signal a transition on the horizon following Roku’s warning earlier this week about YouTube TV subscribers potentially losing access to the YouTube TV app. At this point, current subscribers still retain access to the app, but the cause of the back-and-forth continues to escalate and points towards what Roku says is a growing dispute with Google. Roku essentially claims that its attempt to re-up its carriage agreement has led to Google playing favorites with its own products (in this case, Google’s separate YouTube app and preferential results for YouTube content searches), and negotiations between the two companies still aren’t resolved.
Previously, Roku accused Google of “predatory, anti-competitive and discriminatory” practices that “harm Roku’s users.” Earlier this week, Variety noted that Google denied requesting preferential Roku search results or for access to user data from Roku while stating of the dispute, “We hope we can resolve this for the sake of our mutual users.”
Fast forward to today, and Roku says that re-up negotiations are no closer to success. As of Friday, Roku has pulled the YouTube TV app from the channel store; this means that new subscribers won’t be able to access it, although existing subscribers can (“at this time”) keep using YouTube on Roku. It’s also worth noting that this dispute only involves the paid live TV service known as “YouTube TV,” rather than the free YouTube app. Here’s a statement from a Roku spokesperson:
“We are disappointed that Google has allowed our agreement for the distribution of YouTube TV to expire. Roku has not asked for one dollar of additional financial consideration from Google to renew YouTube TV.
“We have only asked Google for four simple commitments. First, not to manipulate consumer search results. Second, not to require access to data not available to anyone else. Third, not to leverage their YouTube monopoly to force Roku to accept hardware requirements that would increase consumer costs. Fourth, not to act in a discriminatory and anticompetitive manner against Roku.
“Because our contract has expired, we have removed YouTube TV from our channel store. To continue to provide our users with a great streaming experience, we are taking the extra step to continue to offer existing subscribers access to YouTube TV on the Roku platform unless Google takes actions that require the full removal of the channel. Because of Google’s conduct, new subscriptions will not be available going forward until an agreement is reached.”
The streaming wars are only bound to include such a perpetually shifting landscape, although Roku users sure have to roll with those changes. For several months, Roku fans felt left out of the HBO Max launch party until both services finally struck a deal. Hopefully, things will settle down soon for Roku’s YouTube TV subscribers, too.
(Via Hollywood Reporter)