YouTube to stay on Roku devices with new multi-year agreement
Roku and Google spent most of this year battling over distribution agreements for YouTube and YouTube TV, which resulted in Roku devices losing access to the dedicated YouTube TV app, and the threat of both services being removed completely loomed over Roku owners. Now both companies have apparently decided to stop bickering, as they have agreed to a new multi-year deal that keeps YouTube and YouTube TV on Roku.
Roku announced in a tweet (via Reuters) on Wednesday, “Effective today, we have agreed to a multi-year extension with Google for YouTube and YouTube TV. This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform.” The deal puts an end, at least for now, to nearly a year of disagreements over YouTube on Roku devices.
Like most carriage disputes, the details about what each company wanted out of the deal have not been publicly confirmed. Roku published a blog post in October explaining that Google “continues to interfere with Roku’s independent search results, requiring that we preference YouTube over other content providers,” which Google called “unproductive and baseless claims.” Roku also alleged that Google demanded future Roku products support the AV1 video codec, which would reduce server costs for Google, but potentially increase hardware costs for Roku. It’s worth noting that Google’s most recent streaming player, the Chromecast with Google TV, doesn’t even support hardware AV1 decoding.
Amazon and Google had a similar feud back in 2017, which resulted in Google blocking YouTube on Echo and Fire TV devices. Amazon responded by promoting its Silk Browser for the Fire TV, which was capable of accessing the web-based TV interface for YouTube. Google shut down the web TV app in 2019, so that option would have been more difficult (if not impossible) for Roku if negotiations went south.
Disclaimer: The author of this article owns stock in Roku. This does not impact the opinions stated here.