If you own a Roku device and depend upon said Roku device for YouTube TV, you might be in for a rude awakening soon. Per an email sent to customers this week on the Roku platform, Google and Roku are in a bit of a dispute. According to Roku, Google is asking to have preferential treatment in search results in the Roku platform – a request Roku suggests they can no longer fulfill.
At this point we have Roku’s side of the story, only. So keep that in mind when to read the following bit from the Roku email sent to Roku users. “We will always stand up for our users, which is why we cannot accept Google’s unfair and anticompetitive requirements to manipulate your search results, impact the usage of your data and ultimately cost you more.”
Roku suggests that they’re attempting to reach an agreement with google that will “protect your data” and ensure “a level playing field for companies to compete” while they aim to retain access to YouTube TV.
Roku is angling the situation as “the possibility that Google may take away your access to the YouTube TV channel on Roku.” We’ll be reporting on when this will happen as soon as either Google or Roku makes a final date (or negotiations on extending licensing) known.
This is just the latest example of a way in which our most modern methods of content distribution can fall apart at the drop of a hat. The only way you can really, truly have physically guaranteed access to movies and shows in your own home at any given time is with physical copies – DVDs, Blu-rays, etcetera. Your video hardware needs to work too, of course.
Live TV, on the other hand, is really a matter of broadcasting companies, your TV provider, and your hardware working right, all at the same time. As such, now is as good a time as any to sit back for a moment and appreciate how precarious our whole modern system of entertainment consumption really is – it takes a village!
Update: In a statement to The Verge, Google accused Roku of trying to tip the scales on negotiations with its accusation today:
“We have been working with Roku in good faith to reach an agreement that benefits our viewers and their customers. Unfortunately, Roku often engages in these types of tactics in their negotiations. We’re disappointed that they chose to make baseless claims while we continue our ongoing negotiations. All of our work with them has been focused on ensuring a high quality and consistent experience for our viewers. We have made no requests to access user data or interfere with search results. We hope we can resolve this for the sake of our mutual users” Google spokesperson
UPDATE 2: Another YouTube statement released this week suggests that they “have never, as they have alleged, made any requests to access user data or interfere with search results. This claim is baseless and false.