Google-Roku YouTube TV Feud Risks Ensnaring Main YouTube App, Too-news

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(The main YouTube app on a Roku TV)

The dispute between Google and Roku over YouTube TV may end up ensnaring a bigger property: the main YouTube app. 

In a Friday blog post, Google’s YouTube team offered its own take on why the two companies failed to renew a deal to carry the subscription-based YouTube TV channel on Roku’s platform. In doing so, Google noted that a separate agreement involving the free YouTube app on Roku is set to expire in December 2021.

We’ll have to see if the two companies can settle their differences before the deal is up. But right now, both parties are blaming the other for failing to strike a deal on YouTube TV.

“Despite our best efforts to come to an agreement in the best interests of our mutual users, Roku terminated our deal in bad faith amidst our negotiation,” Google claimed. “Unfortunately, Roku has often engaged in this tactic with other streaming providers.” 

In the blog post, Google said its original goal was to merely renew the current terms concerning the YouTube TV deal. However, Roku allegedly saw an opportunity to renegotiate a separate deal involving the main YouTube app. 

“Our agreements with partners have technical requirements to ensure a high-quality experience on YouTube. Roku requested exceptions that would break the YouTube experience and limit our ability to update YouTube in order to fix issues or add new features,” Google claimed. 

The company goes on to imply Roku’s exceptions would’ve also eliminated support for open-source video codecs. Hence, YouTube would’ve been prevented from displaying videos in 4K and 8K even on Roku devices that support the resolution, Google alleges. 

“We can’t give Roku special treatment at the expense of users. To be clear, we have never, as they have alleged, made any requests to access user data or interfere with search results. This claim is baseless and false,” the blog post added. 

Roku didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But according to the company, the negotiations fell through not because of money, but over Google’s refusal to rein in its own anticompetitive behavior. 

“We have only asked Google for four simple commitments. First, not to manipulate consumer search results. Second, not to require access to data not available to anyone else. Third, not to leverage their YouTube monopoly to force Roku to accept hardware requirements that would increase consumer costs. Fourth, not to act in a discriminatory and anticompetitive manner against Roku,” the company said in a statement. 

The good news for consumers is YouTube TV still remains available on a Roku device or TV, but only if you previously installed it.

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