An ongoing rift between Roku and Google may result in the removal of the YouTube TV app from Roku’s streaming devices.
On Monday, Roku warned its users via email that YouTube TV may be taken off its platform after Google allegedly made a number of anti-competitive demands to the streaming company, including requests for special treatment of its YouTube TV and YouTube apps. Roku claimed that Google is threatening the removal of YouTube TV to force Roku to grant the tech giant access to its consumer data.
Google allegedly asked Roku to add an exclusive search results row for YouTube within the Roku smart TV interface and give YouTube search results more prominent placement. Roku also claimed that Google asked it to block search results from other streaming content providers while users are using the YouTube app.
Additionally, Google reportedly asked Roku to favor YouTube Music results from voice commands made on the Roku remote, even if users have set their preference to Spotify, Pandora, or other non-Google music apps. Lastly, Google allegedly threatened to require Roku to use more expensive chipsets or memory cards that would subsequently increase the price of its streaming devices, which directly compete with Google’s Chromecast.
In the email it sent out to users, Roku said that its “recent negotiations with Google to carry YouTube TV have broken down because Roku cannot accept Google’s unfair terms.” Though Roku said it is “deeply disappointed in Google’s decision to use their monopoly power to force terms that will directly harm streamers,” Roku said it remains committed to reaching an agreement with Google to keep Roku users’ access to YouTube TV.
A Roku spokesperson also pointed out that “Roku is not asking Google for a single additional dollar in value.” The spokesperson explained that Roku “simply cannot agree to terms that would manipulate consumer search results, inflate the cost of our products, and violate established industry data practices.”
As expected, YouTube TV refuted the allegations made by Roku. “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,” a spokesperson for YouTube TV said.
Though the representative said that YouTube TV is disappointed that Roku made “baseless claims” while Google and Roku continue their ongoing negotiations, YouTube TV is hoping they can resolve the issue for the sake of their mutual users.