Friday, October 22, 2021

The Roku-Google pissing contest continues

Remember when Roku and Google got into a pissing contest over a new agreement to carry the YouTube TV app? Well, nothing has changed. Yet. It could be about to get worse, though. Roku might lose the YouTube app as well.

In a recent blog post, Roku says there has been no progress made:

​There are two primary concerns we are working to address: First, Google continues to interfere with Roku’s independent search results, requiring that we preference YouTube over other content providers. This is a concern shared by many companies who believe that customers deserve neutral and relevant results to their search queries. Second, Google discriminates against Roku by demanding search, voice, and data features that they do not insist on from other streaming platforms. ​

​While we are working to resolve our differences, we want to be transparent about these negotiations. As we shared in April, the threat remains that Google may remove YouTubeTV from the Roku platform. We continue to believe that streamers stand to benefit from Google and Roku reaching a fair agreement and we remain committed to trying to achieve that goal.

Roku refers to the threat of Google removing YouTube TV from the Google platform. Google, however, says that YouTube, not just YouTube TV, will be removed in December if negotiations don't go well:

In a statement to Variety, a Google rep said, “Since our negotiations with Roku earlier this year, we’ve continued to work with them to find a resolution that benefits our mutual users. Roku has once again chosen to make unproductive and baseless claims rather than try to work constructively with us. Since we haven’t been able to continue our conversations in good faith, our partnership for all new Roku devices will unfortunately end on December 9. We are, however, giving Roku the ability to continue distributing both YouTube and YouTube TV apps to all existing users to make sure they are not impacted.”

This ups the stakes. Current users will continue to get the service, but new users won't. And they'll be the loudest, whiniest ones.

Don't get me wrong, things should go in such a way that a platform is able to carry the apps they want to carry. However, Google has the right to ask for things. Who is right? Probably neither. But more Roku than Google.

In the NBCUniversal dustup, I thought Google was correct. In this one, I lean more towards Roku.

If YouTube and YouTube TV come off Roku in December, what will that mean for me? Nothing. I already have the apps and the apps will continue to work. But for new users of Roku, they'll be all whiny and such, and as I said, I understand that.

Should they avoid buying Roku? Between now and December, no. If you have the YouTube or YouTube TV app, the services will continue to work. After December 9, if things don't go well? I don't know. I'll think about it between now and then.

Our Streaming Lives shouldn't be this hard.

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