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YouTube May Disappear From Roku Channel Store, As Two Sides Still Can’t Reach a Deal

Jason Gurwin

Earlier this year, the YouTube TV and Roku carriage agreement expired without a deal. As a result, new YouTube TV customers were unable to install the Live TV Streaming Service on Roku streaming players and Roku TV. The situation will soon be bleeding into the YouTube App as well.

Roku and Google’s partnership will expire on December 9th, and if the two sides can’t reach a deal, new customers won’t be able to install YouTube on their Roku device either. Google says that while new subscribers won’t be able to download, they will continue to offer existing users access to those who already have it downloaded on their account.

Google also has been using the YouTube App as a workaround to allow new YouTube TV subscribers to access the service, which wouldn’t be possible with the change.

In a statement to The Streamable, a spokesperson from YouTube says:

Since our negotiations with Roku earlier this year, we’ve continued to work with them to find a resolution that benefits our mutual users. Roku has once again chosen to make unproductive and baseless claims rather than try to work constructively with us.

Since we haven’t been able to continue our conversations in good faith, our partnership for all-new Roku devices will unfortunately end on December 9. We are, however, giving Roku the ability to continue distributing both YouTube and YouTube TV apps to all existing users to make sure they are not impacted.”

In a company blog post, Roku says that their “concerns with Google are not about money” and they have not asked for “a single change in the financial terms of our existing agreement.” The company says the dispute centers on Google’s request that they “preference YouTube over other content providers” and by “demanding search, voice, and data features that they do not insist on from other streaming platforms.”

Earlier this year, Roku claimed that Google had 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 said 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.

This isn’t the only dispute that Roku has had with a Live TV Streaming Service, however. Last year, Spectrum’s TV App was dropped from the Roku platform and only returned after 9-month standoff.

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.

Google had a multi-year dispute with Amazon over Fire TV devices and YouTube. In late 2015, Amazon stopped selling Chromecast devices since there wasn’t a direct way to watch Prime Video content. In retaliation, Google removed YouTube from Fire TV and Echo devices. The two sides brought an end to their feud in September 2019.