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Roku Removes YouTube TV for New Customers, Keeps for Existing Subscribers

Roku
(Image credit: Roku)

SAN JOSE, Calif.—As of Friday morning, April 30, YouTube TV is no longer available in Roku’s channel store for new subscribers, however the vMVPD service will remain for existing subscribers, at least for now. This is the culmination of a warning Roku sent out earlier in the week regarding its negotiations with YouTube TV’s parent company, Google.

On April 26, Roku warned its customers that it may pull YouTube TV from its service because of what it called “unfair and anticompetitive requirements” to manipulate search results, impact the usage of data and raise the cost for consumers. Google said these claims were baseless.

It took less than a week for Roku to put that warning into action, sending an email out to its customers at 8 a.m. on April 30. In the email, Roku said that Google let the contract for YouTube TV expire, but that existing customers will still be able to use the service while they negotiate, though they recommend not deleting the app since it is now not available in the Roku channel store. It is also not clear if that will change should a deal not be reached in a particular time frame.

This action does not remove the YouTube app from Roku, just YouTube TV.

“We remain committed to reaching a good-faith agreement with Google that preserves your access to YouTube TV, honors your desired search preferences and protects your data,” the email reads.

A Roku spokesperson provided more detail in a statement, claiming that Roku has not sought additional financial compensation as part of a YouTube TV renewal.

In addition to the manipulation of search results and data access, Roku says that Google has attempted to force hardware requirements that would increase user costs. It also accuses Google of acting in “a discriminatory and anti-competitive manner against Roku.”

“It is well past time for Google to embrace the principles that have made streaming so popular for millions of users by giving consumers control of their streaming experience, by embracing fair competition and by ceasing anti-competitive practices,” reads the statement. “We believe consumers stand to benefit from Google and Roku reaching a fair agreement that preserves these principles and we remain committed to trying to achieve that goal.”

In their own blog post, YouTube claimed that Roku terminated the deal "in bad faith," and cited other incidents Roku has had with other streaming providers.

YouTube provided details to its negotiations with Roku. It claims that it initially just wanted to renew its deal with Roku under the previous terms, but Roku wanted to renegotiate a separate deal that encompasses the YouTube main app, which YouTube says does not expire until December. It then says that Roku requested exceptions to technical requirements that would impact the quality of the YouTube experience, as well as impede its ability to make updates.

"We can't give Roku special treatment at the expense of users," the blog post reads. "To be clear, we have never, as they have alleged, made any requests to access user data or interfere with search results. This claim is baseless and false."

YouTube said that it will continue to work that YouTube TV users have access to the platform.