Tech

Roku pulls YouTube TV from its store as Google feud deepens

Roku has made good on its threat to remove YouTube TV from its channel store amid a contract dispute with Google. Earlier this week, Roku said it would yank the app unless Google backtracked on alleged demands for YouTube to get priority placement in search results and to have results from other providers (such as music streaming services) blocked while the app is in use. Roku also claimed Google wanted the company to use certain memory cards and chipsets in its devices that would push up the price of hardware, potentially making Chromecast a more appealing option for consumers.

The companies couldn’t find common ground, and YouTube TV is gone from the store after the previous contract expired. Existing subscribers should still have access to the app on Roku as long as they don’t delete it. The issue doesn’t impact the main YouTube app, which is covered under a separate agreement.

“​We have only asked Google for four simple commitments,” Roku said in a statement to Deadline. “First, not to manipulate consumer search results. Second, not to require access to data not available to anyone else. Third, not to leverage their YouTube monopoly to force Roku to accept hardware requirements that would increase consumer costs. Fourth, not to act in a discriminatory and anticompetitive manner against Roku.”

The company claimed it didn’t ask Google for extra money to renew the contract. Roku still hopes to strike a new deal with Google and bring YouTube TV back to the channel store.

Earlier this week, Google denied to Engadget it asked for access to user data or that it made any request to “interfere with search results.” The company claimed it had been trying in good faith to agree a new deal with Roku but that “Roku often engages in these types of tactics in their negotiations.” Engadget has contacted Google for comment regarding the app’s removal.

Here’s Roku’s letter to customers regarding the issue:

Dear Roku Customer,

We are disappointed to share the news that Google has chosen to let the YouTube TV contract expire.

While this news is unfortunate, we wanted to let you know that we are taking an extra step to ensure existing Roku users like yourself retain access to YouTube TV while we work to reach an agreement.

We will always stand up for our users, which is why we 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.

Our commitment is to always put your interests first and therefore we will continue to offer existing users access to YouTube TV unless Google takes actions that require the full removal of the channel. New subscribers will not be allowed at this time. It is also important that you do not delete the YouTube TV app as it will not be available for download to Roku devices.

We remain committed to reaching a good-faith agreement with Google that preserves your access to YouTube TV, honors your desired search preferences and protects your data. We hope to update you soon.

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