Roku warned us on Monday that this could happen. This morning the company announced that YouTube TV is no longer available from the Roku Channel Store. Google and Roku argue over Roku’s transportation arrangement, as you may see in an argument over old-school cable TV carts. The main point of contention seems to be the AV1 video codec, a new, more efficient video standard that appears to be the new standard in the future.
Unable to reach an agreement between the two companies, Roku said the YouTube TV app – a $ 65-per-month service that delivers over 85 live cable TV channels over the internet, not the regular YouTube app – accessed the Roku Channel Store. Existing users can still use the YouTube TV app on their Roku devices, but new users won’t be able to sign in. Here is Roku’s full statement:
We’re disappointed that Google is letting our YouTube TV expire agreement expire. Roku didn’t ask Google for an extra dollar in return for the renewal of YouTube TV. .
We just asked Google to make four simple commitments. First, so as not to manipulate consumer search results. Second, not to request access to data that is not available to anyone else. Third, not to use YouTube’s monopoly to force Roku to accept hardware requirements that would increase consumer costs. Fourth, to act non-discriminatory and anti-competitive against Roku. .
Since our contract has expired, we have removed YouTube TV from our channel store. In order to continue to provide our users with a great streaming experience, we are taking the additional step of providing existing subscribers with continued access to YouTube TV on the Roku platform unless Google takes action that requires the complete removal of the channel. Due to the behavior of Google, new subscriptions will not be available in the future until an agreement has been reached. .
It is long gone for Google to accept the principles that made streaming so popular for millions of users by giving consumers control over their streaming experience, accepting fair competition and ending anti-competitive practices. We believe consumers will benefit from Google and Roku reaching a fair agreement that upholds these principles, and we continue to strive to achieve that goal.
In response, Google posted a blog post today that said, “Despite our efforts to reach an agreement in the best interests of our mutual users, Roku maliciously terminated our deal during our negotiations. Unfortunately, Roku has dealt with it a lot.” Tactics with other streaming providers. “Google flatly denied Roku’s claims that Google wanted user data and was trying to manipulate search, saying,” To be clear, we never made requests to access user data or compromise search results, as they claimed to be wrong. “
The 411 on AV1
While these negotiations were supposed to be about the $ 65 monthly replacement cable TV service, YouTube TV, according to Google, Roku took the opportunity to renegotiate a separate contract for the main YouTube app that won’t expire until December. “”
The statements by Google and Roku appear to revolve around the problem of AV1 video codec support, which is at the heart of the dispute, according to an earlier report in the Protocol. According to Roku, Google was trying “to use its YouTube monopoly to force Roku to accept hardware requirements that would increase consumer costs,” while Google says so.[o]Our agreements with partners have technical requirements to ensure a high quality experience on YouTube. “
Google goes on to say, “Roku has requested exceptions that would affect the YouTube experience and limit our ability to update YouTube to fix issues or add new functionality. For example, if you don’t support open source video codecs, you can’t. ” Watch YouTube in 4K HDR or 8K, even if you bought a Roku device that supports that resolution. “It’s not clear why no one can write the letters ‘AV1’ on a blog post, but that statement definitely relates to the upcoming video codec.
AV1 is the successor to Google’s VP8 and VP9 video codecs. The development has evolved from an internal Google project to an industry-supported “Alliance for Open Media”. AV1’s bandwidth saving potential and royalty-free license has been endorsed by nearly every major video and hardware company, including Google, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel, Facebook, Arm, Hulu, and many others. Like all advanced video codecs, AV1 requires hardware decoding support for playback on slower devices such as streaming sticks, set-top boxes and phones, hence all references to “hardware” and “technical” requirements. Google has pushed manufacturers to pack these brand new, more expensive SoCs so that AV1 support can be made available to a wide audience.
Google is very excited about AV1. Bandwidth is a huge cost to running YouTube. Anything that causes Google to send less data to play a video can save the company a ton of money. Google is so aggressive in moving to AV1 that it created its own video transcoding chip to make it easy to transcode YouTube’s vast video collection to AV1.
Despite Google’s internal zeal for AV1 when it comes to streaming hardware, Roku actually supports AV1 better than Google. The official scoreboard shows that Roku has an AV1-compatible device, the $ 100 Roku Ultra, while Google doesn’t sell AV1 streaming devices. Google’s newest and most expensive dongle, the $ 50 Chromecast with Google TV, doesn’t have a chip that supports AV1. Google has made AV1 support mandatory for Android TV devices, but these are third-party devices too. Google should lead by example here, but it isn’t.
Nobody managed to get AV1 working on an inexpensive streaming box, and Roku’s $ 100 Ultra is the cheapest AV1 streaming box out there. Roku is far cheaper, however, and it doesn’t seem like the company could offer the Roku Express at the current MSRP of $ 29.99 if it had AV1 support.
While the two companies do not see the AV1 codec at eye level, this does not have to lead to the immediate shutdown of YouTube TV, according to Google. The company says, “Our offer to Roku was and still is simple: Renew the YouTube TV contract on the existing reasonable terms.”