A dispute between Roku and Google over placement of the YouTube TV app on the Roku platform is the latest reminder that legacy content skirmishes from the linear TV world are still present in the new streaming world.
According to an Axios report, the Roku YouTube TV dispute is not over money, but rather over “anti-competitive” demands. Specifically, Roku reports Google is demanding preferential treatment of Google products in Roku search results, holding YouTube TV app availability as a negotiation chip.
Sounds familiar to legacy linear TV content negotiations, where media companies demand channel carriage in basic tiers, with pulling of popular channels used as a negotiation threat.
In a letter to Roku subscribers obtained by Axios, Roku says, “We are sending this email to update you on the possibility that Google may take away your access to the YouTube TV channel on Roku. Recent negotiations with Google to carry YouTube TV have broken down because Roku cannot accept Google’s unfair terms as we believe they could harm our users.”
Roku is no stranger to content skirmishes in the streaming world. Roku removed the ability to download the Charter Spectrum app to its platform last year and held up deal negotiations in the past over the placement of HBO Max and NBCU’s Peacock on its platform.
The lead streaming platform, with over 50 million users, is not afraid to flex its muscles in the new world of app content negotiations. A new world that increasingly looks quite similar to the legacy linear world, in terms of content disputes.
Roku tells Axios that Google has refused to extend the availability of the YouTube TV app on Roku while the two parties attempt to negotiate the broader terms. The agreement is set to expire “imminently,” according to the Axios report.