At the end of April, millions of Roku users were confused when it dropped YouTube TV from its channel store. Most streaming stick services try to offer as many channel app options as possible to draw people to purchase their device over another one.
With over 50 million active users, Roku is currently the most popular streaming device on the market. It has approximately 43% of the market share for TV-connected streaming devices.
Americans in Fair Haven, NJ, and other towns have been “cutting the cord” in droves as they gravitate to the more on-demand options that streaming channels like Netflix and Disney+ offer. Cable and satellite prices also continue to go up, which is another reason people have been purchasing streaming “sticks” like Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
The pandemic has increased people’s desire to watch entertainment at home. Many families have invested in a home theater setup, so they could get a little closer to that in-theater experience, with so many of them being closed.
Streaming sticks are often the main way that people access their home entertainment, and when the largest one drops a major channel, it sends shockwaves through U.S. homes.
Why Did Roku Drop YouTube TV?
Apart from the free version of YouTube that you might watch or post videos on, there is a paid subscription service called YouTube TV that the company (owned by Google) provides.
The service offers over 85 channels of content including news, entertainment, live sports, and more. YouTube TV is $64.99/month, making it one of the more expensive streaming services packages. The reason people are willing to pay that amount is that it gives them many of the channels they may be giving up when dropping cable or satellite TV service.
These include things like:
- NFL, NBA, and MLB networks
- Comedy Central
So, why would Roku drop such a significant service? Here’s a rundown of what the fight is about.
Roku Thinks Google is Playing Unfairly
The dispute originates with Google, the owner of YouTube and YouTube TV. Roku has accused Google of seeking terms that would unfairly impact its streaming competition and benefit its YouTube apps.
Another problem Roku has with Google is that it has requested more access to Roku’s customer data than other services have.
That’s not all, while it’s asking, Google also has requested that Roku adopt specific hardware requirements for its device, ones that Roku says would cause it to need to increase prices to consumers.
This quote from a company statement released April 30, 2021, pretty much sums up Roku’s position in the matter:
“We have only asked Google for four simple commitments. First, not to manipulate consumer search results. Second, not to require access to data not available to anyone else. Third, not to leverage their YouTube monopoly to force Roku to accept hardware requirements that would increase consumer costs. Fourth, not to act in a discriminatory and anticompetitive manner against Roku.”
One factor that throws another monkey wrench into the discussions is that Google also has its own streaming stick, Google Chromecast, that competes directly with the Roku streaming stick.
On the Google side, it’s accusing Roku of engaging in unfair negotiation tactics because it is the most popular of the streaming devices, giving it leverage.
Google’s spokesperson stated, “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.”
Some of the disputed behaviors, according to Roku, are:
- Google forced them to create a dedicated search results row for YouTube.
- Google wants to block search results from other apps if a voice search begins on YouTube.
- Google wants YouTube Music to get preferential treatment for voice searches in YouTube.
- Google is demanding Roku use more expensive chipsets in its hardware.
What Do Roku Users Need to Know?
As of April 30, 2021, Roku dropped the YouTube TV app from its device. This means that people purchasing Roku will not have that as an option to use with the device.
The company also warned current users that have already installed the app, not to delete it, otherwise, they may not be able to get it back.
Streaming sticks are similar to how you install apps on a smartphone. While you have access to tons of apps, most of them aren’t installed until you go through the installation process on your streaming device.
These apps can be deleted, just like you delete an app on your phone. They can also be deleted if you do a full stick reset back to factory conditions.
So, if you subscribe to YouTube TV and use Roku, you definitely do not want to delete the app, or you may not get it back. Also, depending upon how this fight goes, you may lose access altogether.
For the time being, Roku states that it will continue supporting YouTube TV streaming if someone already has the app installed on their Roku device before it dropping the app. However, there are no promises, and if things go south, it could end up dropping support completely.
Is Your Home Entertainment Room Working for You?
Two River Computer can help you improve your home entertainment setup with affordable options for great sound quality, visuals, and voice control convenience.
Contact us today for a free consultation. Call 732-747-0020 or reach us online.