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Google and Roku are in a fight, but it’s users who are losing out

Google and Roku are throwing barbs each others way over the disappearance of the YouTube TV live television streaming service from Roku hardware.

Roku device owners will no longer have access to the popular US cord-cutting service after contract negotiations between the two companies broke down.

Earlier this week, Roku said Google was abusing its monopoly position to force Roku into unfair terms. Roku accused Google of wanting prominent positioning for YouTube within the interface and to give YouTube search results preference. Google also allegedly told Roku it wanted the company to use more expensive chips in its streaming devices.

Google has denied the claims, calling them “baseless and false” in its own blog post on the dispute.

Related: Apple TV 4K vs Chromecast with Google TV

Google says: “We’ve been working with Roku to renew our deal to distribute YouTube TV on their devices. 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. Unfortunately, Roku has often engaged in this tactic with other streaming providers.”

Google alleges Roku attempted to shoehorn negotiations over the main YouTube app into the deal. It also claims Roku’s demands would have harmed YouTube’s ability to provide the best possible viewing experience.

It added: “Roku requested exceptions that would break the YouTube experience and limit our ability to update YouTube in order to fix issues or add new features. For example, by not supporting open-source video codecs, you wouldn’t be able to watch YouTube in 4K HDR or 8K even if you bought a Roku device that supports that resolution.”

Google says it wasn’t going to give Roku the preferential treatment it allegedly sought. However, Roku itself is singing a completely different tune. Having now removed YouTube TV from the Roku Store following the expiration of the pair’s contract, the hardware maker has set out its side of the story. It also says existing subscribers will still be able to use the app, unless Google withdraws it completely.

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

“We have only asked Google for four simple commitments. 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.”

Now we wait to see if the dispute is resolved.

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