Roku removes YouTube TV app from its store amid contract dispute with Google

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in General Discussion
Making good on a threat it made earlier in the week, Roku has pulled the YouTube TV app from its channel store amid an ongoing dispute with Google over contract terms.

Credit: Roku
Credit: Roku


In an email to customers on April 26 seen by Axios, Roku said that negotiations with Google "have broken down because Roku cannot accept Google's unfair terms as we believe they could harm our users."

On Friday, Roku pulled the YouTube TV app. In an email to customers, it said it "cannot accept Google's unfair and anticompetitive requirements that would allow for the manipulation of your search results, impact the usage of your data, and ultimately cost you more."

However, Roku added that it would take additional steps to continue letting existing users view YouTube TV content "unless Google takes actions that require the full removal of the channel."

Essentially, Roku users who have the YouTube TV app on their devices will be able to continue using it. However, Roku cautioned that users wouldn't be able to get the app back if they deleted, and the ability to sign up for new subscriptions has been paused "until an agreement is reached."

"While we are deeply disappointed in Google's decision to use their monopoly power to try and force terms that will directly harm streamers, we remain committed to reaching an agreement with Google," Roku said.

The dustup between the two companies started when Roku accused Google of unfair contract terms that it says gives an advantage to Google's suite of apps.

In a statement Friday, Roku says it is asked Google for four commitments:

  • Not to manipulate consumer search results.

  • Not to require access to data not available to anyone else

  • Not to leverage their "YouTube monopoly" to force Roku to accept hardware requirements that would increase consumer costs.

  • Not act in a discriminatory and anticompetitive manner against Roku.

Google in a blog post responded by claiming that Roku is using the YouTube TV contract expiration "as an opportunity to renegotiate a separate deal encompassing the YouTube main app, which does not expire until December."

"Our initial conversations started with Roku simply to renew the current terms of their ongoing deal with YouTube TV, which has been in place for several years," Google added. "Our offer to Roku was simple and still stands: renew the YouTube TV deal under the existing reasonable terms."

At present, it isn't clear what those "reasonable terms" are.

An update for our members: Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we have been unable to reach an agreement with Roku. We continue to offer Roku the opportunity to renew the YouTube TV deal under the existing reasonable terms.

-- YouTube TV (@YouTubeTV)


Although the YouTube TV app is no longer available on the Roku store, the standard YouTube app still is.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,828member
    FWIW Roku appears to be less than forthright.  Excerpts from Google's response:

    Our offer to Roku was simple and still stands: Renew the YouTube TV deal under the existing reasonable terms. 

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

    Our agreements with partners have technical requirements to ensure a high-quality experience on YouTube. 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 that resolution. 



    edited April 30
  • Reply 2 of 10
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,494member
    Don't really care what Roku does but I really wish YouTube wasn't owned by Google. I know people will complain that Apple own a lot of companies but don't believe they own the number of 3rd party services Google and others own. Courts want to break up Apple even though they're only providing services for their hardware platforms. Google provides random services (bought) that run on other platforms. Yes, Apple provides some services on other platforms but they created the software.
    Beatsmagman1979mike54lkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,097member
    Keep that garbage off.

    rob53 said:
    Don't really care what Roku does but I really wish YouTube wasn't owned by Google. I know people will complain that Apple own a lot of companies but don't believe they own the number of 3rd party services Google and others own. Courts want to break up Apple even though they're only providing services for their hardware platforms. Google provides random services (bought) that run on other platforms. Yes, Apple provides some services on other platforms but they created the software.

    You’re absolutely right. Except Apple is innovative and more successful so idiots are jealous of Apple.

    Had Apple known Google would become a knockoff Apple company, I’m sure Apple would have bought YouTube.
    magman1979
  • Reply 4 of 10
    d_2d_2 Posts: 90member
    “Not to manipulate consumer search results.”

    I enjoy using YouTube TV, but I’ve noticed this issue quite a bit and have wondered to what extent it’s happening to other users.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,421member
    Important to note it doesn’t affect existing users. I am watching YouTube TV on my Roku TV right now. Hopefully by the time updates are needed it will be fine.  Of course that prevents any new Roku device owners from accessing YouTube TV.  I access it directly on a Roku-enabled TV in the living room. For my man cave room, I use an Apple TV 4K for everything (the family TV is connected to an ATV4 (HD).  

    As for the dispute, who knows.  Probably fault on both sides, though Google is a corrupt behemoth so I naturally side with their opponent.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    gatorguy said:
    FWIW Roku appears to be less than forthright.  Excerpts from Google's response:

    Our offer to Roku was simple and still stands: Renew the YouTube TV deal under the existing reasonable terms. 

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

    Our agreements with partners have technical requirements to ensure a high-quality experience on YouTube. 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 that resolution. 

    Sadly, the only way to be sure is to have a copy of the agreement that is under negotiation. I think Google is being truthful here, but their example is a curious one - as far as I am aware, open source video codecs are potentially violating certain patents that might be utilised in legal action by the rights holder. This creates a business risk (minimal though it may be) for Roku, and Roku is certainly entitled to make this an issue in the contract negotiations.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 10
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,182member
    sdw2001 said:
    Important to note it doesn’t affect existing users. I am watching YouTube TV on my Roku TV right now. Hopefully by the time updates are needed it will be fine.  Of course that prevents any new Roku device owners from accessing YouTube TV.  I access it directly on a Roku-enabled TV in the living room. For my man cave room, I use an Apple TV 4K for everything (the family TV is connected to an ATV4 (HD).  

    As for the dispute, who knows.  Probably fault on both sides, though Google is a corrupt behemoth so I naturally side with their opponent.  
    But it might come December. That's when the current license Roku has with Google, expires. Unless some new agreement is made. Which I assume will happen. Otherwise, there will be too much money left on the table, by both parties. 

    It appears that Roku makes most of their revenue through ad placements in their devices and selling users data to third parties for ads purpose. Over twice as much, than from sales of their hardware. My guess is that this dispute is over ad revenue with the non premium YouTube TV. Maybe Google wants to pay the same as before and Roku wants a bigger share or even a share. Google might be supplying the ads on their video stream but Roku is supplying the users data for targeted ads. 

     Roku also appear to charge a 20% commission with app purchases and in-app payments for subscriptions, but YouTube TV is a free app and have ads for the users that are not paying for a premium subscription with no ads. And the users don't have to pay for their subscription through Roku, to enjoy their YouTube TV Premium with a free app on a Roku.   

    https://blog.mywallst.com/how-does-roku-make-money/ ;
    edited May 1 gatorguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,008member
    gatorguy said:
    FWIW Roku appears to be less than forthright.  Excerpts from Google's response:

    Our offer to Roku was simple and still stands: Renew the YouTube TV deal under the existing reasonable terms. 

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

    Our agreements with partners have technical requirements to ensure a high-quality experience on YouTube. 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 that resolution. 



    Simple answer, Google constantly lies through its teeth when it comes to slurping up user data. It's not Roku who is being less than forthright, it’s Google lying about it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 10
    danoxdanox Posts: 501member
    Beats said:
    Keep that garbage off.

    rob53 said:
    Don't really care what Roku does but I really wish YouTube wasn't owned by Google. I know people will complain that Apple own a lot of companies but don't believe they own the number of 3rd party services Google and others own. Courts want to break up Apple even though they're only providing services for their hardware platforms. Google provides random services (bought) that run on other platforms. Yes, Apple provides some services on other platforms but they created the software.

    You’re absolutely right. Except Apple is innovative and more successful so idiots are jealous of Apple.

    Had Apple known Google would become a knockoff Apple company, I’m sure Apple would have bought YouTube.


    Apple can do free YouTube video service anytime, and Apple can do server farm computers anytime also, the M series cpu along with Apple OS can help out with that anytime long Apple for a reason….

    Now that Apple is free of Intel the future is Spectacular.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 10
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,531member
    The outcome of these corporate level spats almost always hurt users the most. We end up like the children in a nasty divorce. I hate it when one or both sides claim to be doing something in OUR best interests but we have absolutely zero say in the matter. 

    When the YouTube app was dropped from earlier versions of Apple TV (3rd gen) I ended up buying a new Apple TV because the TV didn’t have a built in YouTube app. Sure I could AirPlay from an iPhone or iPad but that’s too much claptrap for someone who uses YouTube a lot. 

    It doesn’t matter to me who owns YouTube. When it comes down to making money or holding on to a source of income everyone is going to be a dick if their livelihood is threatened. 
    watto_cobra
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