Roku says that a “distribution agreement” with Fox is ending today, meaning that users hoping to watch the Big Game via Fox apps this weekend may be screwed.
The Verge was the first to report that the issue is pegged to an agreement standoff between the parties—both of which seem to be claiming the other can resolve the issue. Because the distribution agreement ends at the end of this month, apps belonging to Fox—the network streaming the Super Bowl this year—will no longer be supported on Roku as of Friday if the two are not able to reach a resolution, a spokesperson told Gizmodo.
“We offered FOX an extension so that Roku can continue to bring a large and valuable audience to FOX but FOX declined. If an agreement is not reached, we will be forced to remove FOX channels from the Roku platform. We will no longer have the legal right to distribute their content,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company’s “discussions with FOX continue and we hope that FOX will agree to an agreement soon.”
There is a possibility that the issue could be resolved before Sunday, the company told Gizmodo. However, the spokesperson added that Roku has “been talking to FOX for months. This is not a surprise to them. And they declined the extension.”
Fox, meanwhile, appears to be claiming the ball’s in Roku’s court for reaching any kind of resolution. In a tweet late Thursday, Fox Sports said: “We want you to enjoy FOX Sports. Only @Roku can remove apps from your device. Tell Roku you want your FOX Sports!”
A representative for Fox Sports did not immediately return a request for comment. In a statement to The Verge, however, Fox said that the company’s “threat to delete FOX apps from its customers’ devices is a naked effort to use its customers as pawns. To be clear, FOX has not asked Roku to remove our apps, and we would prefer Roku continue to make them available without interruption. Roku’s tactics are a poorly timed negotiating ploy, fabricating a crisis with no thought for the alarm it generated among its own customers.”
But don’t panic and start re-arranging your Superbowl plans. Users do have options beyond the Fox apps for streaming the big sportsball event. The Roku spokesperson told Gizmodo that customers can still stream it on Fubo, Sling TV, Hulu Live, and YouTube TV, noting that many have free trials if you’re not looking to pony up for a subscription. Of course, we’ll update you if we hear anything more. But in the meantime, it appears that whatever’s going on doesn’t have an immediate resolution.
And be sure to check out a bunch of talented sports bloggers’ coverage of the event all weekend on Unnamed Temporary Sports Blog Dot Com.
Update 3:17 p.m. ET: In a blog post on the ordeal on Friday, Roku said that an agreement still had not be reached with Fox. However, the company said that the game can be streamed through the NFL app on Roku devices “unless FOX blocks your ability to stream it.” It also noted that in addition to the alternative streaming services, Roku TV users can use an antenna to tune into broadcast TV. The game will also be accessible on the Xfinity and Spectrum apps for Comcast and Spectrum subscribers.
“We are both disappointed and sad to see the FOX channels come down. However, our agreement expires today. We don’t like FOX’s tactics and we wish they had agreed to extend. Our discussions with FOX continue and we hope that FOX will agree to an agreement soon,” Roku said in the post. “We want your TV to be simple to stream with as many options as possible. Whichever team you support, we hope you enjoy the game.”