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The War is Over: Roku and YouTube Set Multi-Year Distribution Renewal For YouTube & YouTube TV

Lauren Forristal

With only one more day to go before new Roku users would be blocked from downloading YouTube or accessing YouTube TV, the standoff between Google and Roku is finally over.

Roku and Google have settled their longtime feud over the apps, reaching a multi-year carriage extension.

Roku said in a statement, “Roku and Google have agreed to a multi-year extension for both YouTube and YouTube TV. This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform.”

The public dispute began in the spring, when the YouTube TV app was taken down from the Roku Channel Store once Roku’s contract to support the app had ended. Google developed a workaround that entailed integrating YouTube TV functionality into the flagship YouTube app. This was significant for Roku, being that the major streaming provider with 56.4 million active accounts did not have an equal fight against the Big Tech enterprise, Google.

When the fight broke out, a spokesperson from YouTube told The Streamable, “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.”

On October 22, Roku stated in a blog post, “Google continues to interfere with Roku’s independent search results, requiring that we preference YouTube over other content providers.” The company then called Google an “unchecked monopolist,” accusing the tech giant of using its market position to gain unfair advantages on the Roku platform in terms of independent search results. A couple of days prior, the U.S. Justice Department, along with the attorney generals of 30 U.S. States filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google.

The blog ends with the closing statement, “For Roku, this is about maintaining our independence, protecting our customers, and ensuring healthy competition in the streaming industry that benefits millions of consumers.”

On the opposing side of the battlefield, Google had problems with Roku’s hesitation to support the AV1 codec, a technology that makes the delivery of 4K video smoother. Roku believes that anything that increases the cost of making Roku hardware, especially amid a crippling global supply chain crisis, is simply a bad business decision.

In May, Roku CFO Steven Louden accused Google of attempting to “require us to do certain things on the device side that would increase our cost basis and hence, erode our [bill of materials] cost advantage that we have from Google products like Chromecast and like Android TV.” For Q3, Roku reported -15% margins on its hardware business, with chip-supply issues which forced the company to sell its devices as a loss in order to sustain the growth of its platform, active users, and advertising revenue.

Despite all of this, luckily for Roku users, they have reached an agreement practically at the last second. Thus, instead of pulling the app like they did previously, YouTube and YouTube TV will be available for years to come. At least for now.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service with more than 60 channels for $64.99/month. This plan includes local channels, 32 of the top 35 cable channels, and regional sports networks (RSNs) in select markets.

With the recent addition of Viacom channels (BET, MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) to the service, they are only without Hallmark and A+E Networks (Lifetime, History, A&E).

They recently added NFL Network and new Sports Plus add-on which include channels like NFL RedZone for $11 a month.

YouTube TV offers select 4K content, including some live sports and on-demand shows, as part of their 4K Plus add-on. The 4K Plus add-on is $19.99 a month and also includes offline downloads and unlimited streams on your home network.

If you want a cheaper service with many of the entertainment channels on YouTube TV, you can subscribe to Philo which includes A+E, Discovery, Viacom, Hallmark, and other channels for just $20 a month after a 7-Day Free Trial.