June 22, 2021

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Roku and Google arguing, could result in YouTube TV removal from Rokus

Roku Ultra plugged into TV 2Roku Ultra plugged into TV 2

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

  • Roku’s ongoing negotiations with Google could result in Roku users losing YouTube TV access.
  • Roku says Google’s various requests to change the Roku platform to more heavily favor YouTube are “predatory, anti-competitive, and discriminatory.”
  • Nothing is set in stone yet, but anyone who uses YouTube TV on a Roku should be nervous.

Roku is, by far, the market dominator when it comes to media streamers. Whether it’s a streaming stick, a set-top box, or even a full-blown television, Rokus are how millions of people consume media content.

Throughout its history, Roku has used that market dominance to earn more favorable contracts with streaming providers as well as fight to preserve the integrity of its platform. Unfortunately, those fights sometimes result in losses for the users. As a recent example, an HBO Max channel didn’t show up on Rokus until long after the service launched due to negotiation troubles between the two companies.

Related: The best Roku streaming players: What are your options?

Now, it looks like Roku users could have YouTube TV troubles on the horizon. According to Axios, ongoing negotiations between Roku and Google are not going well. As a result, Roku is pre-emptively notifying users via email that the YouTube TV platform could vanish from Rokus in the near future.

This email notification is likely a negotiation tactic. Roku is demonstrating to Google that it has no problem removing YouTube TV from millions of Rokus. The company likely hopes Google will see this seriousness and back down.

Roku, Google, and YouTube TV: What’s happening?

According to Axios, Google is allegedly asking Roku to make various significant changes to better favor YouTube products. These include the following:

  • Create a dedicated search results row for YouTube within the Roku smart TV interface
  • Make YouTube search results more prominent
  • Block search results from other streaming content providers while using YouTube on Rokus
  • Favor YouTube Music results from voice commands made on the Roku remote while the YouTube app is open
  • Require Roku to use certain chipsets and/or memory cards in future hardware

Roku calls these requests “predatory, anti-competitive, and discriminatory.”

Now, you might be wondering why YouTube TV is in the crosshairs when these requests involve multiple YouTube products. That’s because the YouTube TV contract Google and Roku have is up for renewal. Roku accuses Google of trying to manipulate this contract — and use its massive market dominance when it comes to YouTube — as a way to force Roku to change its platform to better favor Google.

See also: How to cancel your YouTube TV subscription

As a result, Roku is threatening to drop YouTube TV altogether and simply letting the contract expire. This would, unfortunately, result in Roku users losing access to YouTube TV on their streamers, even if the channel is already installed. Of course, this would not affect their ability to use YouTube TV on other platforms.

We’ll update this article once we know the outcome of these negotiations.