Roku And Google End YouTube Impasse, Set Multi-Year Distribution Renewal

Roku And Google End YouTube Impasse, Set Multi-Year Distribution Renewal

Roku and Google have resolved their longtime differences over the YouTube and YouTube TV apps, reaching a multi-year carriage extension a day before a key deadline.

The two tech companies have waged a war of words throughout much of 2021, but reached an agreement ahead of Thursday’s expiration of the YouTube distribution agreement. Already, Roku had opted to take YouTube TV out of its channel store, meaning new customers were unable to sign up, though existing ones could still use the popular service.

Roku has long maintained that its objections were not financial, but rather had to do with Google’s efforts to steer users away from Roku’s search tools and, in so doing, gain improper access to important data. Google hit back, saying Roku was being unreasonable in its expectations of how apps run on its platform.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

“This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform,” a Roku spokesperson said.

“We’re happy to share that we’ve reached a deal with Roku to continue distributing the YouTube and YouTube TV apps on Roku devices,” a YouTube rep said. “This means that Roku customers will continue to have access to YouTube and that the YouTube TV app will once again be available in the Roku store for both new and existing members. We are pleased to have a partnership that benefits our mutual users.”

The tangle was one of the most significant yet for Roku, which is a major U.S. streaming provider, with 56.4 million active accounts. YouTube TV is widely believed to be the top internet-delivered TV package in the U.S., with Wall Street analysts pegging it at north of 4 million subscribers. (Disney’s Hulu + Live TV has 4 million.) Google’s latest update on subscribers came in 2020, when the company said YouTube TV had surpassed 3 million.

Beginning in the spring, the parties began airing their issues publicly, though they can be traced back to 2019. Roku grew increasingly pointed in its criticisms, warning in a blog post in October of “disturbing trend that threatens the vibrant and competitive streaming ecosystem.” Google, it insisted, had been manipulating YouTube search results on Roku’s platform, and was demonstrating monopolistic behavior.

It is difficult to subtract revenue from the equation, of course. Roku takes a significant cut of subscriptions and advertising occurring on its platform.