Roku has alerted its customers that Google’s anticompetitive business practices may force it to remove YouTube TV on its streaming devices.
“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,” a Roku email notice reads. “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.”
Google has demanded that Roku provide its YouTube TV app with special search privileges that would prevent Roku devices from displaying search results that include content from other apps if the YouTube TV app is open. Roku, like other companies that make streaming devices—including Google, by the way—offers a search feature that spans compatible apps. Some companies prefer to keep their apps out of this aggregation. But this marks the first time, to my understanding, that an app maker has tried to prevent a streaming platform from aggregating the content from other apps.
“Google is attempting to use its YouTube monopoly position to force Roku into accepting predatory, anticompetitive and discriminatory terms that will directly harm Roku and our users,” a Roku statement explains further. “Given antitrust suits against Google, investigations by competition authorities of anti-competitive behavior, and congressional hearings into Google’s practices, it should come as no surprise that Google is now demanding unfair and anti-competitive terms that harm Roku’s users.”
“We are disappointed that Google has so far refused to accept our proposal to extend YouTube TV on Roku,” the Roku statement continues. “Roku is not asking Google for a single additional dollar in value. We simply cannot agree to terms that would manipulate consumer search results, inflate the cost of our products, and violate established industry data practices. Google is already under fire from governments around the world for manipulating search results. It is outrageous that Google would now try to insist on manipulating Roku’s search results as well. We believe consumers stand to benefit from Google and Roku reaching a fair agreement that preserves consumers’ access to YouTube TV, protects user data, and promotes a competitive, free and open marketplace. We are committed to trying to achieve that goal.”