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Report: Roku Could Lose Amazon Prime Video and IMDb TV

Michael King

We’ve been seeing the ongoing battle between Roku and Google over YouTube TV over the past six months, which looks like it will come to a head in December with the potential removal of not only YouTube TV, but YouTube itself from Roku for new customers.

Now, according to a new report from The Information, Roku may be facing another contract dispute that may remove another big name from its screens: Amazon Prime Video.

While the direct battle with Amazon is over its secondary video service IMDb TV, it could bleed into Amazon Prime Video. The contract renewal for the service is due to come up next year, which means the two companies need to hash things out, and things do not look to be as smooth as one would think they would be at this juncture.

While this may be considered to be small potatoes as compared to its flagship service, in the past, Amazon has paired the two services in a “both-or-nothing” contractual environment that makes it hard to turn down.

IMDb TV came to Roku devices in January 2021, after Roku’s free streaming service, The Roku Channel, became available on Fire TV in October 2020.

Amazon’s frontline video service requires a paid subscription. However, IMDb TV is free, and is paid for by advertising revenue. Amazon has been crafting some significant original programming on IMDb TV lately, notably with new content like Alex Rider, Leverage: Redemption, and the soon-to-debut Judge Judy reboot series, Judy Justice.

Word is that during the upcoming round of negotiations, Amazon is bound to ask for more user data, which is something that content providers and hardware developers have been reluctant to provide. Part of the core of the fight between Roku and Google has to do with a struggle over data and search results.

According to The Information, Amazon has already approached Roku about accessing more information on viewers last year, which it initially declined in order to avoid bolstering Amazon’s ad sales department.

While Roku has had hardware on its side for quite a while, Amazon recently started selling its own smart TVs to go with its own streaming hardware, which means that they may actually be in the driver’s seat in this case.

On the other side of the coin, given that Amazon’s content is set to grow dramatically over the next year, especially in light of its acquisition of the MGM library, the upcoming Lord of the Rings series, and its exclusive deal with the NFL that begins next season.

While customers could potentially use AirPlay or Cast-support on Roku players, which was a work-around on Roku devices, in past disputes with services like HBO Max – this might be one of those deals Roku can’t afford to lose.

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