Roku has faced an uphill battle among other titans of streaming. It took a while for HBO Max to get its own app, and now there’s beef with Google. Here’s what’s going on.
No More YouTube
Amid an ongoing fight, Google just announced that it’s pulling YouTube apps from Roku. Starting on December 9, users will no longer be able to download YouTube or YouTube TV on their Roku devices. If you already have YouTube downloaded then congratulations: it won’t be uninstalled or removed. Any device purchased after the deadline will be unable to go on YouTube.
This is just the latest move in an ongoing antitrust fight. Roku alleges that Google is using its size to bully smaller competitors. It’s trying to force unfair pricing upon its competitor, and the whole dispute could end up in court.
Google is asking for special access to users’ metadata before the app can be downloaded. Roku agreed to give Google access to search data but won’t allow Google access to any other customer data. Google is throwing a fit, as a result, hence why YouTube is going away. Google denies these allegations.
The next few years will be critical for the tech industry, for Congress is taking an increased interest in regulation. Facebook seems to be melting down after a whistleblower testified. This aggressive behavior from Google has not gone unnoticed.
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Rhode Island Representative David Cicilline are publicly taking Roku’s side. Cicilline called Google’s supposed actions a “shakedown.” It certainly feels like Google is pulling YouTube because it didn’t get everything it wanted. Klobuchar thinks this case exemplifies why there must be more regulation of the tech industry.
Could Be Hurting Roku
The soothsayers of the stock market don’t seem to like this new development. Roku stock is down 4.65% this week and is down 11% over the past six months. Who knows if this is connected to Google, but Roku’s only viable if it maintains support from other giants. With Google pulling its apps, what’s to stop other services like Amazon and Netflix from pulling their support as well?
Only time will tell whether this YouTube incident causes cataclysmic damage or leads to any actual regulation. It’s always possible both sides buckle before the December deadline. As it stands, lacking YouTube could easily sway customers to go with a competitor. It can’t be easy negotiating with a company as large as Google.