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YouTube TV Removed From Roku Devices for New Subscribers, As Deal Expires

Jason Gurwin

After days of warning, YouTube TV and Roku agreement has expired. As a result, new YouTube TV customers will be unable to install the Live TV Streaming Service on Roku streaming players and Roku TV.

However, Roku says that while new subscribers won’t be able to download, they will continue to offer existing users access “unless Google takes actions that require the full removal of the channel.” Also, if a existing customer deletes the app, they will not be able to re-install it. Roku’s carriage of the regular YouTube app will, at this point in time, not be affected by this dispute.

In a statement to The Streamable, a Roku spokesperson said:

We are disappointed that Google has allowed our agreement for the distribution of YouTube TV to expire. Roku has not asked for one dollar of additional financial consideration from Google to renew YouTube TV.

Because our contract has expired, we have removed YouTube TV from our channel store. To continue to provide our users with a great streaming experience, we are taking the extra step to continue to offer existing subscribers access to YouTube TV on the Roku platform unless Google takes actions that require the full removal of the channel. Because of Google’s conduct, new subscriptions will not be available going forward until an agreement is reached.

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It is well past time for Google to embrace the principles that have made streaming so popular for millions of users by giving consumers control of their streaming experience, by embracing fair competition and by ceasing anticompetitive practices. We believe consumers stand to benefit from Google and Roku reaching a fair agreement that preserves these principles and we remain committed to trying to achieve that goal.

We have reached out to Google for comment. Earlier this week they told The Streamable:

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. 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.

At the center of the dispute, Roku claims Google has asked the company to go beyond the treatment it receives on other streaming competitors’ platforms, like creating a dedicated search results row for YouTube within the Roku smart TV interface and giving YouTube search results more prominent placement.

Also, Roku says that Google is asking them to block search results from other streaming providers, when users perform a voice search while the YouTube app is open.

Roku alleges Google has asked it to favor YouTube Music results from voice commands made on the Roku remote while the YouTube app is open, even if the user’s music preference is set to default to another music app, like Pandora.

Roku also posits that Google might force the company to upgrade its equipment to Google’s specs for YouTube TV. That would force Roku to increase the price of its products, which competes directly with Google’s Chromecast. YouTube TV has offered a free Chromecast with Google TV to new YouTube TV customers, along with gifting it to existing ones.

This isn’t the only dispute that Roku has had with a Live TV Streaming Service, however. In December, Spectrum’s TV App was dropped from the Roku platform and has yet to return.

Roku has also had disputes with NBCU, which was avoided at the last minute, which would have seen all of their TV Everywhere Apps removed. They also nearly saw Fox app removed from the platform ahead of last year’s Super Bowl.

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