Now that Roku has fired the first shot in the Great YouTube TV War of 2021 — which could end up with the largest streaming platform in the United States no longer carrying the second-largest live streaming service — Google has launched its reply.
In a statement emailed to WhatToWatch, a YouTube TV spokesperson says that “we have been working with Roku in good faith to reach an agreement that benefits our viewers and their customers. Unfortunately, Roku often engages in these types of tactics in their negotiations."
In other words, there remains an impasse over money. Roku doesn't just get to carry YouTube TV on its platform without Google's blessing. It's the same the other direction, too. It's the same sort of thing that led to HBO Max not being available at launch on Roku or of Amazon Fire TV (though it eventually came to both), and it's the same sort of thing we've seen with YouTube TV and its negotiations over regional sports channels. (We've seen it with Sling TV, too.)
Google went on to say that it hasn't asked for any user data, nor did it want to mess with search results, dancing around some claims made in an Axios report on the impending loss of service.
"We’re disappointed that they chose to make baseless claims while we continue our ongoing negotiations," the spokesperson said. "All of our work with them has been focused on ensuring a high quality and consistent experience for our viewers. We have made no requests to access user data or interfere with search results. We hope we can resolve this for the sake of our mutual users.”
What does this mean for those mutual users at this point? Nothing — yet. Other than the fact that once again the folks at the bottom of the hill are left with a bad taste in their mouth, and plenty of alternatives both on the hardware and service front. Roku hasn't yet said when it could pull YouTube TV from its available channels. And YouTube TV hasn't said anything about whether it would walk.
In the meantime, maybe start looking for some alternatives. Fortunately, you've got options.
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