Year followed through on his threat to suppress YouTube TV from his channel store in the middle of a contract dispute with Google. Earlier this week, Roku said that would tear off the application unless Google reverses alleged YouTube requests for priority placement in search results and for results from other providers (such as music streaming services) to be blocked while the app is running of use. Roku also claimed that Google wanted the company to use certain memory cards and chipsets in its devices, which would drive up the price of the hardware, potentially making Chromecast a more attractive option for consumers.
The companies couldn’t find common ground, and YouTube TV left the store after the previous contract expired. Existing subscribers should still have access to the app on Roku until they delete it. The issue does not impact the main YouTube app, which is the subject of a separate agreement.
“We only asked Google for four simple engagements,” Roku said in a statement to Deadline. “First, don’t manipulate consumers’ search results. Second, don’t demand access to data that is not available to anyone else. Third, don’t take advantage of their YouTube monopoly to force Roku to accept material requirements that would increase costs to consumers. Fourth, do not act in a discriminatory and anti-competitive manner against Roku. “
The company claimed it did not ask Google for additional money to renew the contract. Roku is still hoping to strike a new deal with Google and bring YouTube TV back to the channel store.
Here is Roku’s letter to customers regarding the issue:
Dear Roku customer,
We are disappointed to report that Google has chosen to let the YouTube TV contract expire.
While this is unfortunate news, we wanted to let you know that we’re taking an extra step to make sure existing Roku users like you retain access to YouTube TV while we work to secure a deal.
We will always stand up for our users, which is why we cannot accept Google’s unfair and anti-competitive demands that would allow manipulation of your search results, impact your data usage, and ultimately cost you more.
Our commitment is to always put your interests first and therefore we will continue to provide existing users with access to YouTube TV unless Google takes action that requires the channel to be removed entirely. New subscribers will not be allowed at this time. It is also important not to delete the YouTube TV app as it will not be available for download on Roku devices.
We remain committed to entering into a good faith agreement with Google that preserves your access to YouTube TV, respects your desired search preferences and protects your data. We hope to update you soon.
YouTube claims that Roku’s accusation that it “made requests to access user data or interfere with search results” is baseless and false. He claimed that Roku acted in bad faith in terminating the deal during negotiations, and that the company has adopted similar tactics with other streaming platforms.
Initial discussions, according to the blog post, focused on renewing the contract under existing terms. According to YouTube, however, “Roku has chosen to take this opportunity to renegotiate a separate agreement encompassing the main YouTube app, which does not expire until December.”
The streaming giant claims that “Roku requested exceptions that would shatter the YouTube experience and limit our ability to update YouTube in order to fix issues or add new features.” This includes a lack of support for open-source video codecs, which YouTube says would prevent users from watching its content in 4K or 8K on a Roku device. He noted that he couldn’t “give Roku special treatment to the detriment of users,” but vowed to ensure that its users always have access to YouTube TV.
Update 04/30 at 12:25 p.m. ET: Added response from YouTube.
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