Roku: Google’s ‘unfair’ requests could make YouTube TV app dark

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Roku’s streaming devices are some of the most popular in the United States.

Roku

Roku notified on Monday that googlelive tv streaming service from YouTube Television can be removed from its popular devices, telling customers in an email that google makes unfair and anti-competitive requests that “would manipulate your search results, impact your data usage, and ultimately cost you more.”

YoutubeThe main Roku app is unaffected. Roku’s standoff with Google only concerns the app for YouTube TV, a subscription service that streams live TV channels typically used as an alternative to cable or satellite for cord cutters.

Google’s YouTube called Roku’s claims baseless, saying it was negotiating in good faith to reach an agreement so that YouTube TV could continue streaming to Roku devices.

“Unfortunately, Roku often uses these types of tactics in their negotiations. We are disappointed that they have chosen to make unsubstantiated statements while we continue,” YouTube said in a statement. “All of our work with them has been focused on ensuring a consistent, high-quality experience for our viewers. We have made no requests to access user data or interfere with search results. We hopefully we can resolve this issue for the benefit of our common users.”

Google faces attacks and investigations to find out whether it abuses monopoly power on several fronts. Last week, Google was grilled by the senators in an antitrust subcommittee on charges, it is using the market clout of its Google Play app store to retaliate against rivals and entrench its own power.

A Roku spokesperson said Monday that the company “recently learned that Google may revoke consumer access to YouTube TV on Roku.”

“Google is attempting to use its monopoly position on YouTube to force Roku to agree to predatory, anti-competitive and discriminatory terms that will directly harm Roku and our users,” he added. Roku said it was not seeking larger payments from Google and Google has so far refused to accept Roku’s offer to extend the YouTube TV deal.

Transport disputes between programmers and distributors are nothing new – they are a common annoyance for traditional cable and satellite TV customers. But until last year, these kinds of service “outages” were one of the ways streaming stood out from the aggravations of TV’s past.

But last year they popped up with the launches of many big and new streaming services, like HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock that don’t launch with Roku support. The standoff between Roku and Google’s YouTube TV demonstrates that even with long-established apps, services, and distributors, they can both jostle for the upper hand as power dynamics shift for the future. of television.

The tensions come as streaming has become more popular than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, amplifying a long trend of people watching more videos on the internet. Streaming distributors like Roku and streaming programmers like YouTube both want to control the data, money, programming, and discovery tools at the heart of your streaming business. Both sides want to entrench themselves in positions of power for the next era of television.

Google has never revealed how many people subscribe to YouTube TV. The number of people who use this live channel service is certainly dwarfed by the more than 2 billion people who watch YouTube’s main video service. But most YouTube viewing happens on mobile devices, and YouTube TV – although much smaller – is the type of service that tends to be watched the most on TVs, often with a streaming device like Roku.

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