The fight between Google and Roku over YouTube went from bad to worse this week when we learned that the YouTube app would be removed from Roku devices in December. Now, to make things even more complicated, a leaked email might explain why contract negotiations are at a standstill.
For those unaware, earlier this year, Google’s YouTube TV streaming service got yanked from the Roku platform over this situation, and here we are over six months later with no resolution.
Roku claims that Google wants a special deal that includes modifying search results in favor of YouTube and access to user data. However, Google continually denied those claims, saying it only wants to renew the existing contract that’s been in place for several years.
Here’s where things start to get messy. A set of leaked emails reported by CNBC today alleges that Google did ask for special privileges for YouTube, potentially showing that Roku is the one being honest here. The report offers an email from a Google executive to Roku asking for a “dedicated shelf for YouTube search results is a must.” However, that email is from 2019, before the fighting began, and things could have changed between now and then.
A recent statement from Google says, “we have never made any requests to access user data or interfere with search results. This claim is baseless and false.”
We’re not sure what to believe at this point, but things are getting messy. This gives everyone a little inside information, and we’ll let you come up with your open assumptions on the situation. There’s a possibility the current negotiations don’t have the YouTube “shelf” included, but from what we see, that was a request at some point in the past.
Either way, the Google vs. Roku situation isn’t getting any better, and if leaks like this continue, it could start to get out of hand. At this point, it’s safe to say the YouTube app will get removed from all new Roku devices after the December 9th deadline unless something changes. And from the sounds of things, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
As a reminder, the YouTube TV and YouTube apps should remain on devices for existing customers, and only new users after December 9th will lose access.