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So many Roku owners will be angry when they see this news

Published Apr 30th, 2021 10:59AM EDT
Roku vs. Google
Image: Roku

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Roku removed YouTube TV from its channel store on Friday morning as a contract dispute between Google and the streaming device maker rages on. Roku initially threatened to take action earlier this week after claiming that Google was asking for preferential treatment and proposing other “unfair terms,” and now that the distribution agreement has expired, the YouTube TV app will no longer be available to new subscribers. For existing subscribers that had already downloaded the app, the live TV service will be available unless Google demands its removal.

In an email to its customers Friday morning, Roku alleged that Google was proposing anticompetitive requirements that would “allow for the manipulation of your search results, impact the usage of your data and ultimately cost you more.” Earlier this week we learned that those proposals included giving YouTube search results more prominent placement in the UI and pushing Roku to include more powerful and expensive chips in its hardware.

A Roku spokesperson sent BGR the following statement in regards to the ongoing dispute:

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.

It is well past time for Google to embrace the principles that have made streaming so popular for millions of users by giving consumers control of their streaming experience, by embracing fair competition and by ceasing anticompetitive practices. We believe consumers stand to benefit from Google and Roku reaching a fair agreement that preserves these principles and we remain committed to trying to achieve that goal.

For now, the two parties appear to be at a standstill. The good news is that anyone who was already using YouTube TV on their Roku device or TV will be able to continue using the service for now. If the dispute continues, however, Google might decide to take further action and ask for the YouTube TV channel to be removed altogether. Roku’s decision is an understandable one, but some angry users have already begun to complain on social media.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.