Google-Roku Battle Surfaces Again as Latest Roku OS Update Takes Down YouTube TV and Other Apps (Updated)

YouTube TV
(Image credit: Google)

Updated 11.24.2021: Roku has reportedly rolled back an operating system update that caused playback problems with a number of apps, the now irreplaceable YouTube TV app among them. 

According to SlashGear, Roku reversed an update initiated last week that upgraded Roku pucks, sticks and enabled smart TVs to OS 10.5 after numerous users complained about playback issues emerging with Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and other popular streaming apps. 

Among the most troubling issue to Roku users was the YouTube TV app. Since the app is no longer available in the Roku Channel Store, users couldn't merely download a fresh version of the YouTube TV app, a common solution for solving app problems on streaming platforms. 

“We are aware of the YouTube TV issue occurring on Roku devices as well as other streaming platforms and all teams are working diligently to resolve the issue," a Roku rep said in an email to us today. 

In a way, the takedown of the YouTube TV app represented another incremental step in what could culminate in a messy end-of-year divorce between Google and Roku. 

Roku's latest operating system update to version 10.5 has caused problems with a number of apps on the platform. Normally, the solution to these glitches is for the user to visit Roku's Channel Store and download a fresh version of the app. 

But that's not an option for YouTube TV. In April, when Roku's contract with Alphabet/Google to support the virtual pay TV app ended, the YouTube TV app was pulled from the Roku Channel Store. Those users who already had the app downloaded could still use it -- that is, until the latest Roku OS update finally broke the app late last week. 

Also read: Google Says Its Big YouTube App Could Be Removed From the Roku Channel Store on Dec. 9

On Friday, numerous Roku users complained on the streaming company's community page about YouTube TV playback issues. 

On Monday, a Roku rep chimed in, saying, "From multiple reports, it appears that Youtube provider has taken ownership of the playback issue on the Youtube TV channel and they have addressed the issue on their side."

It's unclear as to whether Google did indeed manage to patch the YouTube TV playback issue on those previously downloaded apps. 

Regardless, the issue is yet another reminder that two of the biggest companies in streaming are headed for a fateful day when Roku's deal to support the much bigger and broader YouTube app also expires. 

Notably, Google issued a statement last month indicating that YouTube will be removed from the Roku Channel Store on Dec. 9 if a new agreement with Roku can't be worked out.

Roku insists the impasse isn't about money. It has accused Google, among other things, of trying to game search on its platform.

Google has been less public about its issues with Roku--but a report in Protocol last spring suggested that Google is trying to drag Roku into supporting a 4K video codec, AV1, that will require Roku to upgrade its global device hardware base.

YouTube is the second most popular connected TV app in the U.S., according to Nielsen, accounting for 6% of all video consumption. Only Netflix (7%) gobbles up more. 

Roku, meanwhile, is the No. 1 connected TV platform, accounting for 56.2 million active accounts in the U.S., with around 155 million video streamers using those accounts. ■

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!