Roku platform chief Scott Rosenberg shot down a report in The Information from earlier this week, suggesting the Amazon Prime Video app could soon be pulled out of Roku's Channel Store, right around the same time Google removes its YouTube app.
"Despite what you may have read, our Amazon agreement is not up for renewal or in negotiations at this time," Rosenberg said during Roku's Q3 earnings.
Paywalled news outlet The Information reported (opens in new tab) a week ago that Roku's deal to include Amazon's IMDb TV AVOD app on its platform is about to expire. Roku and Amazon are haggling over primacy to viewer data, the news site said. And since Amazon now bundles negotiations with the IMDb TV and the broader Amazon Prime Video app, you can't pull one off Roku without pulling the other.
Of course, it's complicated, and that understanding seems up for debate.
The entire Amazon streaming ecosystem exists within the Amazon Prime Video app, including IMDb TV content, similar to how YouTube TV now exists within the flagship YouTube app on Roku. (When Roku pulled the app for the YouTube TV virtual MVPD service out of its Channel Store in April, Google merely enabled access to the live-streaming service within the YouTube flagship app, which still has a support contract through Dec. 9.)
The IMDb TV app was added to the Roku Channel Store in January. Prior to that, Roku users accessed IMDb TV content such as Judy Justice entirely through the Amazon Prime Video app.
Rosenberg's comments jibe with a statement Roku released earlier, which said, "Our Amazon agreement is not up for renewal at this time and there are currently no negotiations underway."
Are semantics at play here? The Roku statement and Rosenberg's comments seem careful crafted and do not specifically address IMDb TV. Could it be that Roku merely disputes the notion that not having the IMDb TV app on its platform (not a huge deal) conflates to not having the Amazon Prime Video app (huge, huge deal)?
The rumor that Roku is about to enter a second tech battlefront is a sensitive issue for Roku, which like most electronics-oriented businesses, is feeling the effects of the global supply chain shortage ... and already has troubles brewing with Alphabet/Google.
Regarding that matter, Rosenberg said Roku doesn't any update to the statement it released late last month, which casts the company as an earnest, agnostic transom of streaming video, faced against a malevolent Silicon Valley behemoth intent on gaming Roku search and data discovery, and generally playing by its own rules.
Indeed, that's a kerfuffle that both Roku and Google agree very much exists. And if they can't get it fixed by Dec. 9, an app that's as widely used as Netflix will come off the No. 1 connected TV platform in North America.
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!
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