Google responded to Roku's decision to drop the YouTube TV app from the Roku Channel Store on Friday after negotiations between the two tech giants broke down. The distribution agreement between Roku and Google for YouTube TV expired without a new deal in place. Both Roku and Google said that any YouTube TV subscribers who already have the app downloaded on their Roku devices could continue to use it. Subscribers should make sure not to delete the app because they will not be able to download it again from the Roku Channel Store.
"We regret to share that, despite our best efforts, we have been unable to reach an agreement with Roku," Google said in its own statement Friday afternoon. "We continue to offer Roku the opportunity to renew the YouTube TV deal under the existing reasonable terms." Google also provided instructions on how users can cast their Roku devices if they do not have the YouTube TV app installed.
YouTube TV members still have access to YouTube TV on Roku devices; however, Roku may choose to remove the YouTube TV app from their devices. We encourage Roku to continue providing the YouTube TV app for our mutual users.— YouTube TV (@YouTubeTV) April 30, 2021
"In light of Roku's current stance, we encourage you to reach out to their customer support team to request they keep YouTube TV on Roku devices here or tweet @roku," Google's statement read. "We are committed to ensuring our members continue to have access to YouTube TV and will continue advocating on behalf of our members."
Earlier Friday, a Roku spokesperson told PopCulture the company was disappointed that "Google has allowed our agreement for the distribution of YouTube TV to expire." The spokesperson reiterated the company's position, noting that it has not "asked for one dollar of additional financial consideration from Google to renew YouTube TV" and removed the YouTube TV app because the contract ended. Roku is "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," the spokesperson said.
Roku has argued that Google wants to give its products special treatment on the Roku smart TV interface through a dedicated search results row and prominently to place YouTube TV search results. Roku also claims Google wants Roku to block search results from other streaming providers when a person uses the voice search in the YouTube app. Lastly, Roku also accused Google of possibly forcing it to add hardware requirements that could drive up equipment costs.
For its part, Google told The Verge Roku is abusing its market share in the streaming hardware market. "All of our work with them has been focused on ensuring a high quality and consistent experience for our viewers," a Google spokesperson told the outlet earlier this week. 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." In a blog post on the situation, Google accused Roku of questioning "exceptions" to technical requirements other Google partners are required to follow. "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," Google claimed.