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YouTube TV removed from Roku channel store amid distribution fight

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YouTube TV removed from Roku channel store amid distribution fight
April 30, 2021 by: Gaius Bolling

Can't say they didn't warn us. Roku has followed through on its threat to remove streaming bundle YouTube TV from its platform amid a distribution fight. The good news, for people like me that have Roku and use YouTube TV instead of Cable, is that it will still be accessible for existing users. 

Roku warned on Monday that it would remove YouTube TV unless the Google-owned streaming service agreed to certain stipulations on search and data use. According to Roku, YouTube has leveraged Google's resources to manipulate search results that compromise Roku users' experiences and collect sensitive customer data. I supposed Google didn't expect Roku to make good on their promise but if you try to get YouTube TV today as a new user, you simply won't find it. The main YouTube app is still accessible to all users because it's under a different distribution agreement and is not affected by YouTube TV being phased out. Roku had this to say about their decision in their full statement below:

"?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. Because our contract has expired, we have removed YouTube TV from our channel store. To continue to provide our users with a great streaming experience, we are taking the extra step to continue to offer existing subscribers access to YouTube TV on the Roku platform unless Google takes actions that require the full removal of the channel. Because of Google’s conduct, new subscriptions will not be available going forward until an agreement is reached. It is well past time for Google to embrace the principles that have made streaming so popular for millions of users by giving consumers control of their streaming experience, by embracing fair competition and by ceasing anticompetitive practices. We believe consumers stand to benefit from Google and Roku reaching a fair agreement that preserves these principles and we remain committed to trying to achieve that goal."

In response to Roku's decision, YouTube TV issued their own response. The company wrote "We've been working with Roku to renew our deal to distribute YouTube TV on their devices. Despite out best efforts to come to an agreement in the best interests of our mutual users, Roku terminated ur deal in bad faith amidst our negotiation. Unfortunately, Roku has engaged in this tactic with other streaming providers."

YouTube goes on to say that they initially wanted to renew their existing deal with Roku with no changes to its terms but Roku, as YouTube puts it, "chose to use this as an opportunity to renegotiate a separate deal encompassing the YouTube main app, which does not expire until December." YouTube also blasted Roku's complaint about technical requirements, saying it treated the company no differently than their other partners. YouTube said "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. For example, by not supporting open-source video codecs, you wouldn't be able to watch YouTube in 4K HDR or 8K even if you bought a Roku device that supports the resolution."

YouTube TV has more than 3 million subscribers and it is one of the leading players in internet-delivered TV bundles. This has become a bit of a new normal for consumers that wish to cut the Cable TV cord because it tends to be cheaper than most Cable bundles while essentially offering the same packages. Staying in business with Roku is essential because their interface runs one-third of all smart TVs in North America and that makes it one of the primary streaming gateways, basically making it rival Amazon Fire TV. Roku, as of the end of 2020, had 51 million active accounts. 

Do YOU think Roku and YouTube TV will find a way to play nice with each other?

Source:
Hollywood Reporter

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