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Roku Users May Lose Access to YouTube TV

Roku user interface
(Image credit: Roku)

Roku is warning its users may lose access to YouTube TV.

“Recent negotiations with Google to carry YouTube TV have broken down because Roku cannot accept Google’s unfair terms as we believe they could harm our users,” Roku said in a note to customers Monday morning. 

The dispute revolves around demands by Google that Roku prioritize YouTube in searches. The dispute could lead to the removal of the YouTube app from Roku when agreement is up for renewal.

Google’s Chromecast competes with Roku in the streaming equipment business. Variety reported the dispute earlier.

“Google is attempting to use its YouTube monopoly position to force Roku into accepting predatory, anti-competitive and discriminatory terms that will directly harm Roku and our users,” Roku said in a statement. “Given antitrust suits against Google, investigations by competition authorities of anti-competitive behavior and Congressional hearings into Google’s practices, it should come as no surprise that Google is now demanding unfair and anti-competitive terms that harm Roku’s users."

YouTube TV denied the dispute had anything to do with search.

“We have been working with Roku in good faith to reach an agreement that benefits our viewers and their customers. Unfortunately, Roku often engages in these types of tactics in their negotiations," a spokesman said. "We’re disappointed that they chose to make baseless claims while we continue our ongoing negotiations. All of our work with them has been focused on ensuring a high quality and consistent experience for our viewers. We have made no requests to access user data or interfere with search results. We hope we can resolve this for the sake of our mutual users.”

It's not the first dispute Roku has had. The launch of HBO Max on Roku was delayed until December, just days before the service was going to start streaming Wonder Woman 1984 and other first-run movies form Warner Bros. Roku was also about to drop Fox's apps just before the 2020 Super Bowl before a last-minute deal was reached.

Charter Communications' streaming app has been off Roku for five months and there is no end in sight for that impasse.

In looking to renew its deal to carry YouTube TV, Roku said it is not seeking a larger fee. 

“We simply cannot agree to terms that would manipulate consumer search results, inflate the cost of our products and violate established industry data practices,” Roku said. “We believe consumers stand to benefit from Google and Roku reaching a fair agreement that preserves consumers access to YouTube TV, protects user data and promotes a competitive, free and open marketplace. We are committed to trying to achieve that goal."

Jon Lafayette
Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.