YouTube TV removed from Roku channel store amid Google contract dispute


YouTube TV has been removed from Roku's channel store, after Roku and YouTube TV parent Google failed to come to a distribution agreement amid accusations that the tech giant made anti-competitive demands.

Why it matters: These spats happen regularly between Pay-TV providers and linear TV networks. But in the digital era, this is one of the rare times in which consumers will have a major streaming network removed from their platform's channel store due to a breakdown in negotiations.

Details: The channel will still be available for existing YouTube TV customers, but new users that wish to download the app from Roku's channel store will no longer have the ability to do so.

  • Roku is keeping the app available to existing users so that customers don't get caught up in the messy negotiations.

Earlier this week, Roku notified customers that YouTube TV may be forced off its platform if it couldn't come to an agreement with Google over a distribution deal. Notably, the dispute between Google and Roku is not over financial terms.

  • Roku said Google made demands that included requests for preferential treatment of its YouTube TV and YouTube apps.
  • Specifically, the platform cited four demands from Google that it thought were anticompetitive, including Google's request for Roku to manipulate consumer search results and grant access to data not available to other companies.
  • Roku also alleged that Google has tried to leverage the power of its YouTube app to force Roku to accept hardware requirements that would increase consumer costs and act in a discriminatory way against Roku.

Be smart: Roku and Google compete on a number of fronts, including smart TV hardware devices, smart TV operating systems and smart TV content, as Axios has previously noted,

  • The carriage agreement between the two companies expired Friday morning.
  • Moving forward, new YouTube TV subscriptions will not be available in Roku's channel store until an agreement is reached.

What they're saying: "We are disappointed that Google has allowed our agreement for the distribution of YouTube TV to expire," Roku said in a press statement. "Roku has not asked for one dollar of additional financial consideration from Google to renew YouTube TV."

  • In response to Roku's initial allegations a few days ago, a YouTube TV spokesperson said, "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."

What's next: Roku says it remains committed to reaching a good-faith agreement with Google.