After news leaked out about a feud between Roku and Google earlier this week, today Roku announced its devices would no longer support the YouTube TV app for new subscribers.
In an email sent out to customers today, Roku said the company decided to let its contract with Google for YouTube TV expire, claiming that Google’s contract included “unfair and anticompetitive requirements that would allow for the manipulation of your search results, impact the usage of your data and ultimately cost you more.”
According to Variety, Roku’s main points of contention are that Roku claims Google is demanding the ability to dictate some of the hardware used in Roku devices, Google is asking for special access to user data, and that when a user has the regular YouTube app open, Google wants Roku to block search results from other third-party video streaming apps like Netflix, Disney+, etc.
All told, the end result is that Roku is pulling the YouTube TV app from its Channel Store, preventing any new users to the platform from downloading or accessing the app. Thankfully, for any current Roku users who already have the YouTube TV app installed on their device, Roku says the YouTube TV app will continue to function, though you’ll want to take care not to delete the app as you won’t be able to re-download it once it’s gone.
In a statement provided to Variety, a Roku representative said “Roku has not asked for one dollar of additional financial consideration from Google to renew YouTube TV. Because of Google’s conduct, new subscriptions will not be available going forward until an agreement is reached.”
Prior to Roku’s decision this morning, Google’s response so far has been to say that it hopes it resolve this dispute for the sakes of the two company’s users. However, following Roku’s email to customers, Google has published a new blog post claiming that Google’s was initially simply trying to renew the existing contact under the current terms, at which point Roku decided to use this event to try to renegotiate a separate deal regarding the main YouTube app. Google says it never asked for access to user data, and that Google’s technical requirements are made to “ensure a high quality experience on YouTube.”
Google says it understands the concerns that some of its users may have, and that Google is “ committed to ensuring our members continue to have access to YouTube TV and will continue advocating on behalf of our members.”
While devices makers and content providers are known to have contract disputes from time to time, Roku’s recent tangle with Google is just one of a number of fights Roku has picked in the past year including battles with both WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal over getting the HBO Max and Peacock apps onto Roku’s Chanel Store. And if we look back, given that both HBO Max and Peacock eventually made their way onto Roku’s platform, there is some hope Roku and Google will eventually iron out a deal that will restore support for YouTube TV as well.
Roku ended its letter to customers by saying “We remain committed to reaching a good-faith agreement with Google that preserves your access to YouTube TV, honors your desired search preferences and protects your data.”
[Update: 12:20 PM ET] Added new info following a new blog post published by Google in response to Roku.