Roku spars with Google, may remove YouTubeTV as negotiations break down

Roku sent out a recent announcement warning their users that they may remove YouTubeTV from their available apps; impacting millions of YouTubeTV using Roku to access the Google product. They put out a communication as negotiations broke down between the two companies. Here’s some of the excerpts from Roku this morning’s email:

We are sending this email to update you on the possibility that Google may take away your access to the YouTube TV channel on Roku. 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.

Of course, seeing as this email came from Roku, they had to get in front of the issue, spin what’s happening in their favor and play up their good intentions while knocking down Google for being “unfair and anticompetitive.”

Ensuring a great streaming experience at an exceptional value is the core of our business. We will always stand up for our users, which is why we cannot accept Google’s unfair and anticompetitive requirements to manipulate your search results, impact the usage of your data and ultimately cost you more.

To be honest, I’m not sure who the bad guy is here. If you’ve been in the Roku game for a bit, you know they also had a similarly troublesome past with HBO Max where the two companies had a 2-3 week disagreement where HBO’s new streaming service HBO Max wouldn’t be offered on Roku. Ultimately the companies came to an agreement after a few weeks, but we never knew what the disagreements were.

While we are deeply disappointed in Google’s decision to use their monopoly power to try and force terms that will directly harm streamers, we remain committed to reaching an agreement with Google that preserves your access to YouTube TV, protects your data and ensures a level playing field for companies to compete. We encourage you to contact Google and urge them to reach an agreement to continue offering YouTube TV on Roku and to follow standard industry practices pledging not to require access to sensitive search data or to manipulate your search results.

It will be interesting to see what happens here. Not only because personally, I use Roku to access YouTubeTV, but it’s interesting battle between two powerhouses using their market power and leverage in society’s slow-and-steady cord-cutting.

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