YouTube TV app removed from Roku Channel Store

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Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • Roku removed YouTube TV from its channel store after negotiations with Google failed.
  • YouTube TV will, however, remain available to current subscribers on Roku devices.
  • Google has responded to Roku’s claims that the problem is with Google, not Roku.

Updated April 30, 2021 (12:30 p.m. ET): The drama between Roku and Google over YouTube’s fate on Roku’s streaming hardware just got worse. This time, Google finally stepped in to give its own account of the spat between the two companies.

In a long blog post, Google explains that it did not want to change anything in its current contract with Roku. However, she says she clarified that the current contract states that Roku must update its hardware in order to support certain YouTube-related streaming formats. Apparently Roku refused this, which is what caused the shutdown.

Our agreements with our partners include technical requirements to ensure a high-quality experience on YouTube. Roku requested exceptions that would disrupt the YouTube experience and limit our ability to update YouTube to fix issues or add new features. For example, by not supporting open source video codecs, you won’t be able to watch YouTube in 4K HDR or 8K even if you purchased a Roku device that supports that resolution.

The technology referenced here is almost certainly the AV1 codec. As Google says, if Rokus don’t support this codec, they won’t be able to stream high resolution YouTube content, even if the Roku itself supports 4K or 8K content.

Google also takes issue with Roku’s claims that Google requests access to user data or manipulation of search results:

To be clear, we never, as they alleged, made any requests to access user data or interfere with search results. This claim is baseless and false.

We will have to wait and see how this drama unfolds in the future.


Original article, April 30, 2021 (9:18 a.m. ET): Negotiations between Roku and Google over their YouTube TV distribution deal appear to have come to an end, and that’s not good news for Roku users. The two sides failed to agree on new terms that would allow Roku to offer YouTube TV on its platform. As a result, the YouTube TV app will no longer be able to be downloaded from the Roku Channel Store.

According to a previous report, all of Google’s requests included a dedicated search channel in the Roku interface. He also reportedly wanted Roku to give preference to YouTube Music when using voice commands, among other requests.

Roku wanted Google to commit to four key points, according to an emailed statement. These included:

  • Do not manipulate consumer search results.
  • Do not demand access to data that is not available to anyone else.
  • Do not leverage their YouTube monopoly to force Roku to agree to hardware requirements that would increase consumer costs.
  • Not to act in a discriminatory and anti-competitive manner against Roku.

As the companies could not reach a consensus, the contract expired. Therefore, new users purchasing a Roku device will no longer have access to the service.

What about existing YouTube TV users on Roku?

Roku is trying to soften the blow for existing customers, though. He notes that the issue will not affect users who already own a Roku device and have an active YouTube TV subscription.

“To continue to provide our users with a great streaming experience, we are taking an additional step to continue to offer existing subscribers access to YouTube TV on the Roku platform, unless Google takes action that requires the removal complete chain,” Roku said in the statement.

Roku then notified YouTube TV users in an email Friday, alerting them to the changes.

There is still some hope. Roku noted that it was “committed to entering into a good faith agreement with Google.” But unless the two sides can quickly resolve their impasse, it’s likely that YouTube TV won’t be a part of Roku’s future much longer.

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