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Roku may lose YouTube app over Google's 'anti-competitive' demands

Roku Streambar Pro
(Image credit: Roku)

Roku is informing users via email that YouTube TV might be removed from its platform. 

A battle between Google and Roku seems to have broken out over what the latter calls “anti-competitive demands”. Roku says it is Google threatening to remove YouTube TV from the platform and that this decision is intended to force it to provide preferential access to customer data.

The threat extends only to YouTube’s TV service, not the ad-supported content from YouTube.com. The TV service costs $64.99 per month and allows users to record shows to the cloud, watch broadcast networks like ESPN, NBC and CBS and view up to three different streams at once. 

The YouTube TV website currently lists Roku prominently, giving it the first mention of compatible hardware along with Google’s own hardware products and those from Apple, LG and Samsung. Roku might not have the clout of some of those firms, but Protocol suggests it has a 38% share of the hardware market thanks to standalone boxes and TVs with its service built in. 

Roku alleges that Google has asked it to provide a dedicated set of search results just for things found on YouTube. This would be a column in search just for YouTube results, as well as more prominent placement of YouTube search results, according to Axios. Google also asked for other providers to be excluded from search results when customers are within the YouTube app.

Even more ludicrous is the demand that Roku use specific hardware within its devices. The company says this would include chipsets and memory that would force it to increase the price of its products. 

In the email, the company urges customers to get in contact with Google directly and to ask that it reaches an agreement that will allow Roku to continue offering the YouTube TV app. Owners are also implored to ask Google to stick with “industry practices pledging not to require access to sensitive search data.”

Google denies the accusations and told The Verge “We have been working with Roku in good faith to reach an agreement that benefits our viewers and their customers. Unfortunately, Roku often engages in these types of tactics in their negotiations.”