After Roku complained publicly about Google abusing its market power, Google said it would pull YouTube from Roku’s devices.
“Some Big Tech enterprises are using their market power to extend control over independent businesses, like Roku, to benefit their broader business objectives at the expense of the consumer, putting a fair and open competitive streaming marketplace at risk,” a post to Roku’s corporate blog notes. “This is unfortunately the case Roku and numerous other independent companies now face with Google, which is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and more than 30 State Attorneys General for violating competition laws.”
At issue is Google’s demands to Roku, which first went public in April when Roku alerted its customers that they may lose access to YouTube on their streaming boxes because negotiations with Google had stalled. Now, however, Roku has provided more details about what Google demanded, and as a result, Google says it will pull the YouTube app from Roku on December 9. At that time, no new users will be able to access the service from Roku devices, but existing app installs will continue to work.
As for the now-failed negotiations, Roku says that Google demanded that it provide YouTube with preferential search results over other content providers. Additionally, Google demanded “search, voice, and data features that they do not insist on from other streaming platforms.”
Roku’s concerns are not about money, the firm claims. Instead, it simply wants Google to stop trying to interfere with its neutral search features, which apply to all content providers on its platform. “Roku does not earn a single dollar from YouTube’s ad-supported video sharing service today, whereas Google makes hundreds of millions of dollars from the YouTube app on Roku,” Roku says.
Roku provided a quick update after Google announced that it would pull YouTube from Roku.
“While not surprising, this kind of blatant retaliation and monopoly conduct is likely why the U.S. Department of Justice and 30 State Attorneys General are investigating Google for violating fair competition laws,” a Roku statement notes. “Google’s actions are designed to stifle competition and harm consumers which is why there is broad bipartisan support in Congress today to rein in monopoly abuses. We will continue to try to keep YouTube (and YouTube TV) available for Roku customers, and [we] will provide updates as appropriate.”
“Roku has once again chosen to make unproductive and baseless claims rather than try to work constructively with us,” a Google statement retorts.
Unfortunately for Google, it has publicly stated that it never asked Roku for special treatment, but CNBC has viewed an email between the two firms that seems to prove that Roku’s claims are correct. “A dedicated shelf for [YouTube] search results is a must,” Google explains to Roku in that email.