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YouTube Found the Pettiest Loophole in Its Battle Against Roku

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Image for article titled YouTube Found the Pettiest Loophole in Its Battle Against Roku
Photo: Chris McGrath (Getty Images)

Just a week after Roku yanked YouTube TV from its app store thanks to an ongoing feud with Google, it looks like YouTube found a clever (if not extremely petty) workaround. On Friday, YouTube announced it would just cram YouTube TV access into the main YouTube app, which is still available.

While the company plans to expand YouTube TV access via the YouTube app to “as many devices” as it can “over time,” it’s going to be arriving on Roku devices “over the next few days,” according to YouTube’s announcement. Folks that already had the YouTube TV app on their Roku devices before it was unceremoniously pulled can still use it as they normally would—but YouTube’s hammering out a contingency plan if that stops being the case.

“We’re still working to come to an agreement with Roku to ensure continued access to YouTube TV for our mutual customers,” YouTube said. “We’re also in discussions with other partners to secure free streaming devices in case YouTube TV members face any access issues on Roku.”


Roku initially accused Google of demanding that Roku block search results from other third-party streaming apps—like Netflix or Hulu—when the YouTube app is open. Roku also claimed that Google was demanding the ability to dictate some hardware used in Roku devices, along with privileged access to Roku’s user data. Google denied those claims, saying that Roku terminated their preexisting deal out of bad faith because it was trying to renegotiate its contract regarding the main YouTube app in addition to YouTube TV, despite that contract not expiring until December. YouTube’s Friday blog post is just the latest punch thrown between the two companies.

Roku said in an emailed statement that Google was acting like nothing short of an “unchecked monopolist.”


“The bundling announcement by YouTube highlights the kind of predatory business practices used by Google that Congress, Attorney Generals and regulatory bodies around the world are investigating,” Roku said.

“We have simply asked Google to stop their anticompetitive behavior of manipulating user search results to their unique financial benefit and to stop demanding access to sensitive data that no other partner on our platform receives today,” the company went on. “In response, Google has continued its practice of blatantly leveraging its YouTube monopoly to force an independent company into an agreement that is both bad for consumers and bad for fair competition.”


Anyway, get excited to plug yet another dongle into your TV when this whole relationship inevitably falls apart.