Roku Warns Its Users May Lose YouTube TV Due To Claims Of Anticompetitive Google Empire
Roku sent an email to current YouTube TV subscribers using its platforms over the weekend, describing how negotiations with Google have broken down. According to Roku, it "cannot accept Google's unfair terms as we believe they could harm our users." Roku sheds a little bit of light in the email on the impasse by saying that it won't agree to Google's "anti-competitive requirements to manipulate your search results, impact the usage of your data and ultimately cost you more."
The email goes on to say that it is working to ensure a "great streaming experience at an exceptional value is the core of our business" and that Roku will "always stand up for our users."
A report from Axios is going into further detail on the allegations, which claim that 1) Google is asking for a prominent positioning for YouTube search results within the Roku TV interface, 2) that Google is asking to block search results from other contents providers that stream via Roku TV, 3) Google wants preferential treatment for YouTube Music when performing searches with the Roku voice remote, and 4) Google is angling for Roku to include hardware components of its choosing which would raise the price of Roku hardware.
That last point is especially prickly for Roku, as its hardware streamers compete directly with devices from Google like the Chromecast with Google TV. "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," said Roku in a statement to Axios.
At this point, we're only getting Roku's side of the story, so we've reached out to Google to hear its explanation of this latest dispute. However, tense negotiations are frequent between streaming platforms and content providers. These disputes will likely continue for the foreseeable future as more streaming services enter the market, further muddying the waters.