Roku and Google have kissed and made up, ending a streaming impasse that has dragged on since April.
The two parties agreed today (Dec. 8) to a long-term deal that will bring the YouTube TV app back to Roku's channel store and keep the main YouTube app. The latter was set to disappear from the channel store tomorrow, Dec. 9, which is why we advised Roku users to download the app ASAP if they didn't already have it. Fortunately for users, the feud is over.
"This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform," Roku said in a statement.
“We’re happy to share that we’ve reached a deal with Roku to continue distributing the YouTube and YouTube TV apps on Roku devices," Google said in its own statement. "This means that Roku customers will continue to have access to YouTube and that the YouTube TV app will once again be available in the Roku store for both new and existing members. We are pleased to have a partnership that benefits our mutual users.”
The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Roku has previously said it doesn't earn any revenue from the YouTube app.
The standoff pitted two streaming titans against each other. Google is, of course, Google, and its YouTube is ubiquitous. YouTube TV is one of the top live TV services and best cable TV alternatives, with more than three million users. Roku is the leader in streaming platforms, running on one-third of all smart TVs in North America and boasting over 50 million active accounts at the end of 2020.
In April, Roku's distribution deal for YouTube TV ended without renewal. In a blog post, Roku accused Google of making anti-competitive demands that sought prominent placement of the YouTube TV and YouTube apps within the Roku system. Specifically, Google wanted search, voice and data features for YouTube that it didn't require of other TV partners.
Google denied the claims, although CBNC reported that it had seen a Google email with those demands. The spat drew the attention of lawmakers, some of whom are becoming increasingly concerned about possible anti-competitive practices from market leaders like Google.
In October, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, said, "Roku’s claim that Google requires the company to preference YouTube content over that of other providers in Roku’s search results highlights why we need new laws to prevent dominant digital platforms from abusing their power as gatekeepers."
For now, at least, YouTube TV and YouTube will be accessible on Roku devices for some time.