YouTube to pull apps from Roku as Congress tries to pass Big Tech antitrust legislation

YouTube has announced that it would be leaving Roku. There has been an ongoing battle between the social media platform and Roku from months as a big tech company and a small tech firm try to play a oneupmanship game. On Thursday, Google said it would remove its apps from Roku on December 9 as neither side has reached a new agreement.

Roku said that Google asked for special access to research data that Roku collected from its viewers. It also said that the big tech company asked for prioritized search results for its videos in the firm’s search feature. Roku agreed to the terms but said that the tech company couldn’t ask for additional data and Google was unwilling to commit to this term.

Google slammed Roku and called its accusations “baseless.” A Google spokesperson told CNBC in a statement that Roku had made “unproductive and baseless claims” instead of trying to work “constructively” with them.

Earlier in April, when the battle began, Google said that they had never “made any requests to access user data or interfere with search results” and called the claim “baseless and false.”

CNBC viewed an email from a Google executive, in September 2019, which read: “YouTube Position: A dedicated shelf for YT search results is a must.”

When asked for comment by CNBC, a YouTube spokesperson Mariana De Felice declined to comment but said that partners such as Roku were allowed to rank search results for the video platform “as they wish.”

Roku has a stake in keeping its customers’ search data for itself. It competes with Big Tech giants for its streaming devices as well as its digital ads. It would make zero business sense for Roku to share such data and almost all businesses will almost always put their interests first.

Roku’s claim that Google demanded preferential treatment was taken up by a couple of members of Congress who are considering antitrust legislation against Big Tech. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota said in a statement on Thursday that big tech platforms have been “leveraging their power to preference their products and services” over “thousands of small businesses,” over time while Representative David Cicilline from Rhode Island called it a “shakedown” that his bill “would stop,” in a tweet on Thursday.


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