Google x Roku Is Getting Ugly

Google x Roku Is Getting Ugly

October 26, 2021

The fight between Youtube and Roku is getting pretty nasty. Roku is now calling YouTube's activities a "disturbing trend". Roku insists it's not about money, but Google says otherwise. To note, Roku has been using some rather charged language, also calling Google an "unchecked monopolist" in the carriage agreement fight. So what's going on here?

Streamer's Spotlight: Google x Roku: Money vs Control?

Google and Roku began contract disputes back with the 2019 agreement between the two companies. Roku wasn't particularly pleased with that agreement, leading to the expiration of Roku's deal to distribute Youtube content back in April. Now, Google's Youtube app is set to disappear from new Roku devices starting on December 9.

1. Why Are Google and Roku Fighting?

The answer to this depends on who you ask. In a recent blog post, Roku identified two issues with what Google is attempting to do. First, the company stated that Google is trying to interfere with its search engine results by demanding that YouTube be preferred in search results. Its second issue is that Google is demanding access to more user data than Roku wants to hand over.  

2. How Is Google Responding?

Google hasn't really denied these claims. However, its response has been to update its YouTube app to make it so that YouTube users can access YouTube TV through the normal YouTube app. And now, it's stated that starting on December 9, YouTube will no longer be available on Roku devices unless Roku budges. 

3. What Does This Mean for Customers?

This is a fairly epic game of chicken that could have a ripple effect across the industry. If Roku decides to give in, it means Google will be able to continue to ask for preference and data, using its market power to get what it wants. Conversely, if Roku doesn't bend, it could win a moral victory against Google that empowers other brands to persevere in the fight to contain Google's determined fight to take control.

Mark your calendars for December 9. That will determine how this all plays out. 

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News and Industry Developments

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