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Roku Removes YouTube TV App as Carriage Dispute Heats Up

Roku has claimed the Google-owned TV streaming service is operating in an “anticompetitive manner”

Roku removed the YouTube TV app from its channel store on Friday, arguing that the Google-owned TV streaming app won’t be available “until an agreement is reached.” The distribution deal between the two sides expired on Friday, with Roku saying YouTube TV hasn’t demanded more money, but instead made several “anticompetitive” demands to keep the partnership going.

Roku’s decision means YouTube TV won’t be available for new customers to download. But existing YouTube TV customers who stream the service on Roku will still be able to use the app — and Roku warned those users in an email on Friday to not delete the app if they want to keep using it.

“We have only asked Google for four simple commitments,” Roku said in a statement. “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.”

A rep for YouTube TV pointed TheWrap to a new blog post that says it’s simply been aiming to renew its existing deal with Roku. YouTube TV claims Roku has been using this as an opportunity to renegotiate its current agreement with YouTube, which doesn’t expire until the end of the year.

“Despite our best efforts to come to an agreement in the best interests of our mutual users, Roku terminated our deal in bad faith amidst our negotiation,” YouTube TV’s blog post said. “Unfortunately, Roku has often engaged in this tactic with other streaming providers.”

YouTube TV’s removal from Roku isn’t ideal for either company from a business standpoint. Roku, which is set to report its Q1 performance next week, closed 2020 with 51.2 million active accounts. YouTube TV, meanwhile, is one of the more popular live TV streaming services on the market, along with Hulu’s TV streaming plan.

Similar carriage disagreements have become more common in recent years, though, as more TV viewing shifts toward streaming. Notably, NBCU’s Peacock streaming service was absent from Roku in the few months following its launch last year, as the two sides worked to hammer out an agreement.

Roku’s stock was down 2.15% in early trading on Friday to $349.15 per share.