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This is What YouTube Says About Dispute with Roku

Jason Gurwin, Derek Walborn

Earlier today, Roku said that YouTube TV subscribers may lose access to the app in a dispute between the two companies.

Roku is accusing Google of both “predatory” and “monopoly” behavior. According to Roku, Google is “attempting to use its YouTube monopoly position to force Roku into accepting predatory, anti-competitive and discriminatory terms that will directly harm Roku and our users.” Roku, according to their press release, is refusing YouTube’s efforts.

In a statement to The Streamable, YouTube said: “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.”

YouTube believes that Roku’s claims are inaccurate and that this purely part of a negotiation.

Roku claims that Google is requiring them to create a dedicated search results row for YouTube within the Roku smart TV interface and giving YouTube search results more prominent placement. They are also asking Roku to block search results from other streaming providers while users are using the YouTube app on Roku’s system. Finally, they say 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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