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Roku removes YouTube TV app from platform amid contract battle with Google

Roku customers are blocked from downloading the YouTube TV app after Google ended its contract with the television streaming service.

Roku said it removed the YouTube TV app from its platform Friday because contract negotiations with the app's owner Google have soured. The breakdown won't affect customers who already have the app downloaded, Roku said. New customers can still access YouTube, just not YouTube TV. 

"We are disappointed that Google has allowed our agreement for the distribution of YouTube TV to expire," a Roku spokesperson said in a statement. "Roku has not asked for one dollar of additional financial consideration from Google to renew YouTube TV."

Earlier this week, Roku accused Google of trying to change the contract in a way that raises prices for users and creates an unfair competitive advantage. Specifically, Roku alleged that Google wanted to implement new memory cards in Roku devices that would raise the cost of the hardware. Roku said that Google also wanted it to block other competing streaming services from seeing YouTube TV users' search history.

Google said in a blog post Friday it started negotiating with Roku hoping to renew the contract under the same terms as years past. Roku, however, wanted to renegotiate the usage terms for YouTube TV and the main YouTube app, Google said. Changes Roku wanted on YouTube would have limited the ability to update, fix or add new features to the app, Google said. 

"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," Google said, adding that "we have never, as they have alleged, made any requests to access user data or interfere with search results. This claim is baseless and false."

Roku's dispute with Google comes while the tech giant is in the middle of antitrust lawsuits from the Justice Department and dozens of state attorneys general. 

YouTube TV, which launched in 2017, is a subscription service that lets users stream live television channels. It had more than 3 million users as of last October. Roku has more than 51 million users, up from 37 million in 2020.

Roku told customers in an email Friday the company was working to make sure existing customers could keep using YouTube TV.

"It is also important that you do not delete the YouTube TV app as it will not be available for download to Roku devices," the email stated.

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