Google removes YouTube app from Roku

YouTube leaves Roku. And now, the battle between the two companies is drawing the attention of members of the House of Representatives who are trying to promote Big Tech’s antitrust law.

After months of fighting Roku with YouTube’s parent company Google, Google announced on Thursday that Roku’s customers will not be able to download YouTube or the YouTube TV app to their devices from December 9th () Roku customers who already have YouTube or YouTube Installed TVs can continue to use these apps as usual.) That is, anyone who purchased a new Roku device after December 9th will install the YouTube app. You will not be able to.

This is the latest battle between big tech giants and small tech companies trying to compete with each other. And, like many other small tech companies, Roku argued that Google was taking advantage of its dominant market power to impose disadvantages on its competitors.

Meanwhile, an email sent by Google executives to Roku during agreement negotiations goes against Google’s official statement that it didn’t ask Roku for special treatment before allowing the YouTube app on Roku devices.

Roku’s allegations caught the eye of two of the most important members of the House trying to conquer Big Tech through antitrust law. Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota) and David Siciline (Democratic Party) stood by Roku on Thursday.

The battle between the two companies is focused on the 2019 agreement on allowing YouTube TV on Roku. Roku said Google required special access to search data from Roku customers as a condition to allow YouTube TV on Roku devices. Roku also said Google requested priority search results for YouTube videos with Roku’s search feature.

Roku said he agreed to these terms, but asked Google not to request additional data. According to Roku, Google hasn’t promised that, and both sides are currently stuck. YouTube apps will disappear from Roku’s app store unless the two companies reach an agreement by December 9.

Google called Roku’s accusation “unfounded” in a statement issued shortly after Roku published a blog post about the stalemate between the two companies on Thursday morning.

A Google spokeswoman said in a statement to CNBC, “Roku again chose to make unproductive and unfounded claims rather than trying to work constructively with us.” Stated.

In the meantime, there’s a new question about Google’s previous statement denying that it requested special access to data or changes to search capabilities on Roku devices.

When the conflict between the two companies became widespread in April of this year, Google said in a blog post: “I have never requested access or interference to user data for clarity. Search results. This claim is groundless and false.”

However, according to a September 2019 email from Google executives to Roku read by CNBC, Google was exactly asking for it.

An email from a Google executive to Roku says, “YouTube location: A shelf dedicated to YT search results is a must.” YouTube spokesman Mariana De Felice declined to comment on the email, but said partners like Roku could rank YouTube search results “as they like.”

Roku is also uniquely interested in keeping customer search data out of the hands of Google.

The two companies are competing not only for streaming video devices (Google’s Chromecast and Roku’s streaming device family), but also for digital advertising. Roku needs search data from the software to better target video ads. And in terms of competition, it doesn’t make sense for Roku to share that data with Google. Google, along with Facebook, dominates the overall market share of digital advertising spending.

Roku’s claim to Google’s request for incentives became an important issue for Klobuchar and Siciline on Thursday.

“For a long time, the Big Tech platform has used its power to prioritize its products and services over thousands of small online businesses,” Klobuchar said in a statement Thursday.

Siciline called Google’s move a “shakedown” in a tweet on Thursday.

Both lawmakers have submitted various bills that they say will create a fairer competitive arena in an industry dominated by just a handful of giants. Siciline, chair of the House Judiciary Committee on Antimonopoly Act, announced a bipartisan bill package in June. Klobuchar sponsored her own Big Tech antitrust bill in the Senate. This includes loose control of the App Store by Google and Apple.

And now, the battle between Roku and Google has become more feed for both lawmakers to use to push the legislative agenda against Big Tech.

“Roku’s claim that Google requires companies to prioritize YouTube content over other providers in Roku’s search results is to prevent dominant digital platforms from abusing their power as gatekeepers. It highlights why a new law is needed, “Klobuchar said Thursday.

Google removes YouTube app from Roku

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