Google’s Fight with Roku
Google to Block YouTube Apps on Roku
Last week, Google (GOOGL) decided to remove YouTube from Roku (ROKU). After going back and forth for months, the tech giant announced that Roku customers will not be able to download YouTube or YouTube TV apps on their Roku devices after December 9.
The change does not impact existing Roku customers who already have YouTube installed, but any Roku device purchased after the December deadline will not be able to access YouTube. Roku has accused Google of using its market dominance to force unfair pricing on a competitor. The disagreement has drawn the attention of lawmakers in favor of more antitrust requirements for Big Tech.
Roku’s Accusations Against Google
Roku says that in negotiations with Google, the tech giant asked for special access to search data from Roku customers before it agreed for YouTube to be available on Roku devices. Google also wanted YouTube’s videos to appear higher in Roku searches. Roku agreed to the terms but said it asked Google not to request any other customer data. Google refused, which led to the current impasse. Meanwhile, Google has publicly denied accusations that it sought preferential treatment from Roku.
Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative David Cicilline, two lawmakers pushing for more regulation of Big Tech, took Roku’s side after Google announced its decision. Cicilline called Google’s purported actions a “shakedown,” while Klobuchar said Roku’s claims highlight why new laws are necessary to prevent dominant platforms from abusing their positions.
Roku Prompts Fresh Calls for Legislation
Cicilline is the chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law and has introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at overhauling antitrust rules. Klobuchar has Big Tech antitrust bills making the rounds in the Senate. One of the bills is targeted at Google and Apple’s (AAPL) dominance with respect to their app stores.
The battle between Google and Roku comes amid heightened scrutiny of the tech sector. While Roku is one of many smaller tech companies to make similar claims against Google, this time lawmakers are noticing. It will be interesting to see if Google and Roku settle this before the December 9 deadline or if the disagreement will spark new antitrust legislation.
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