The gloves are off. One week after Roku kicked YouTube TV out of its platform, Google’s responded by upping the ante – and putting the live TV service in its YouTube app.
Now, if Roku wants to stay strong, it has to kick the YouTube app out, too, and risk the ire of every YouTube-loving streamer who’s bought its devices.
This news comes from The Verge, which reports that Google is looking into other workarounds as well. This kind of inter-company warfare, where the customer always loses, is nothing new. Roku alleges that Google demands for unique and preferential treatment for its apps, to get sensitive customer data not available to other companies and manipulation of search results.
Google also wants Roku to support AV1 video decoding, which could increase the cost of Roku devices. In response, Google points to the recent history of Roku’s app issues, where HBO Max and Peacock, among others had to go through work to get into Roku devices.
In a blog post, the YouTube Team claimed that “Despite our best efforts to come to an agreement in the best interests of our mutual users, Roku terminated our deal in bad faith amidst our negotiation. Unfortunately, Roku has often engaged in this tactic with other streaming providers. “
The Verge reports that the YouTube app will start to include a “Go to YouTube TV” in the coming days, which will bring them to YouTube TV within the YouTube app. This option will appear on other devices over time, but arrive on Roku first. Google is even looking to give free streaming devices for YouTube TV members, in the event that this is necessary.
Such a need would likely only come about if Roku decided to delete YouTube’s apps from devices altogether. The current loss of the YouTube TV app on Roku is only hitting the Roku Channel Store, where the app was de-listed. Anyone with the app still on their Roku device or TV could still watch live TV. If Roku decides to continue to play hardball, it would likely make it impossible for users to download the YouTube app again until the spat is resolved.
And while YouTube TV is one of the most popular live TV services (with more than three million users) and best cable TV alternatives, YouTube is a much bigger fish. The video site sees more than 2 billion users logged in each month, and those who love to put the platform on their TV rely on devices such as Roku to have the YouTube app.
Roku is the top streaming device platform in the US, with Fire TV in second place.