NBCUniversal Threatens to Pull Channels From Roku in Dispute Over Peacock

More than 40 NBCU apps could be removed as early as this weekend


Roku and NBCUniversal are at loggerheads, with NBCU on Thursday night telling the streaming company it plans on pulling its NBC Everywhere channels — which includes content from NBC, Bravo, E! and USA, among other channels — from the service. Altogether, Comcast-owned NBCUniversal may have 46 NBCU apps removed as early as this weekend from Roku, per a notification the service sent to customers on Friday morning.

The dispute comes as the two sides continue to negotiate over the distribution of Comcast’s new streaming service, Peacock.

“We are disappointed Roku is removing its users’ free access to NBCUniversal programming — 11 network apps, 12 NBC Owned Station apps, 23 Telemundo Owned Station apps — and continues to block access to the only free premium streaming service available in the market, Peacock,” a NBCU rep said in a statement. “Roku’s unreasonable demands ultimately hurt both their consumers and their consumer equipment partners to whom they’ve promised access to all apps in the marketplace.”

A Roku rep said the company had offered to extend its current agreement with Comcast and the TV Everywhere channels, which had expired at the end of last month, “so that they remain accessible while we continue to work towards a Peacock agreement.” The rep was also adamant Roku is not in favor of removing the apps, but that Comcast had directed the service to do so, using the “playbook” from “old legacy cable carriage wards.”

“We recently learned that Comcast plans to revoke consumers’ access to NBC TV Everywhere channels on the Roku platform by making Roku delete these channels on/or as early as September 18, 2020,” the rep said.  “These consumers, a number of whom are Comcast customers, have paid to access these channels via their cable TV subscriptions and now cannot view this content on Roku, their platform of choice.  Comcast is removing the channels in order to try to force Roku to distribute its new Peacock service on unreasonable terms.”

The service added that the channels “represent an insignificant amount” of streaming hours and revenue for Roku.

Peacock launched in mid-July, but was missing from — and continues to be missing from — the two biggest streaming platforms in Roku and Amazon Fire TV. At the heart of the disagreement over Peacock is the cut Roku takes — 20% for signup fees and 30% of ad inventory. The company has said it’s willing to lower those for Peacock, but the two sides still haven’t come to an agreement on where to meet.

Roku’s stock price dipped 2.1% in early-morning trading on Friday to $161.18 per share.


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