Roku Faces Tricky Renewal Talks with Amazon Over IMDb TV App (Report)

(Image credit: IMDb TV)

Roku, which is already in a bitter negotiation with Google over ongoing support of the YouTube and YouTube TV apps, is reportedly poised to also lock horns with Amazon. 

According to The Information, Roku's deal to support Amazon's AVOD app, IMDb TV (now Amazon Freevee), is set to expire at the end of the year. And as there are between Roku and Google, there are plenty of complicating factors. 

In a statement to us, a Roku spokesperson said, "We have renewal discussions with dozens of partners each year in the normal course of business that are focused on achieving mutually beneficial agreements providing our customers the best possible user experience and value.  Our Amazon agreement is not up for renewal at this time and there are currently no negotiations underway.”

According to The Information, Amazon now bundles platform support negotiations for IMDb TV with its much more compelling Amazon Prime Video app. So while Roku, the No. 1 supplier of connected TV OS in the U.S. with more than 55 million users, might not lose too many users by not offering IMDb TV in its Channel Store, not having the Prime Video app would definitely hurt business. 

According to The information, another hiccup "will be access to viewing data. During last year’s discussions between Amazon and Roku, Amazon pushed for detailed viewing data about what Roku subscribers watch across all apps, according to people familiar with the talks. If Amazon got such data, it could match that information with what it knows about customer purchases on its site and figure out who buys goods on Amazon after seeing ads on the Roku platform, the people said."

Also read: Roku Gets Support from Congress in Fight Against Google

A source familiar with Roku's relationship with Amazon called the report premature and flawed. 

Roku is already engaged in a protracted battle with Alphabet/Google over support of the YouTube and YouTube TV apps. Tensions first emerged in April, when the YouTube TV virtual pay TV app was removed from the Roku Channel Store, and Alphabet responded by embedding functionality for the YouTube TV service into the main YouTube app. 

It simmered over the summer from there, but both Roku and Alphabet ramped things up in a big way several weeks ago with rhetorical volleys at each other. 

In December, Roku's deal to support the flagship YouTube app will expire, too, signaling a major escalation of the kerfuffle. 

Roku says Alphabet is trying to manipulate search and not play be basic rules that affect all other app makers on the Roku platform. 

Alphabet has been cagey about its issues. But reportedly, it wants to pressure Roku to support the AV1 codec, which would smooth YouTube's transition to the 4K future but also require Roku to up the hardware game of its key smart TV OEM partners. 

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!