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Roku warns YouTube TV may be taken off devices as Google negotiations break down

New Age of Streaming
Posted at 1:04 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 16:05:28-04

Roku is warning its users that YouTube TV may be removed from its streaming devices as it negotiates with Google about carrying the television service.

In an email sent to customers, Roku said negotiations with Google to carry YouTube TV have broken down, “because Roku cannot accept Google’s unfair terms as (they) believe they could harm (their) users.”

In the email, Roku goes on to accuse Google of seeking anticompetitive terms and using its “monopoly power” to force terms that would “directly harm streamers.”

“We will always stand up for our users, which is why we cannot accept Google's unfair and anticompetitive requirements to manipulate your search results, impact the usage of your data and ultimately cost you more,” wrote Roku in the email.

YouTube refutes those claims. When the E.W. Scripps Company reached out to them, the company said it was working in good faith to reach an equitable agreement that benefits users. YouTube also accused Roku of making inaccurate public claims about how it works with its partners to bring its TV service to users.

“We have been working with Roku in good faith to reach an agreement that benefits our viewers and their customers,” wrote a YouTube TV spokesperson in a statement provided to the E.W. Scripps Company. “Unfortunately, Roku often engages in these types of tactics in their negotiations. We’re disappointed that they chose to make baseless claims while we continue our ongoing negotiations. 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. We hope we can resolve this for the sake of our mutual users.”

Though Roku claims this dispute with Google is unique, the company has faced difficulties in negotiations with other streaming services in the past, most notably HBO Max and Peacock last year.

In a statement provided to the E.W. Scripps Company, Roku said it’s not seeking any additional money in the current negotiations, but it’s determined not to alter search results, raise the cost of its products or violate industry data practices.

“We are disappointed that Google has so far refused to accept our proposal to extend YouTube TV on Roku,” Roku’s statement said in part. “Roku is not asking Google for a single additional dollar in value. We simply cannot agree to terms that would manipulate consumer search results, inflate the cost of our products and violate established industry data practices. Google is already under fire from governments around the world for manipulating search results. It is outrageous that Google would now try to insist on manipulating Roku’s search results as well."

As talks continue, Roku is encouraging its users to contact Google to urge them to reach an agreement that follows “standard industry practices.”

While Roku carries both YouTube TV and the YouTube app, only the television service is up for renewal and is at risk of being taken off the platform at this time, if a deal isn’t made.