Google Barks Back At Roku's Accusations Of Anticompetitive Behavior With YouTube TV

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Yesterday, Roku stirred the hornet's nest when it aired the dirty laundry between it and Google over YouTube TV. YouTube TV is Google's streaming TV service, and it is available on various streaming platforms, including Google TV, Fire TV, and Roku.

At the time, Roku alleged that Google engaged in anticompetitive behavior in its current negotiations over the inclusion of YouTube TV on its platform. "Google is attempting to use its YouTube monopoly position to force Roku into accepting predatory, anticompetitive, and discriminatory terms that will directly harm Roku and our users," said Roku. "We simply cannot agree to terms that would manipulate consumer search results, inflate the cost of our products, and violate established industry data practices."

We cautioned yesterday that only Roku's side of the story was being told and that we would need to hear from Google to get the whole picture. Google has since responded and is refuting Roku's version of events. Google even seems to allege that Roku is spreading falsehoods.

"Unfortunately, Roku often engages in these types of tactics in their negotiations," said Google in a statement. "We're disappointed that they chose to make baseless claims while we continue our ongoing negotiations. 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."

Those comments directly refute Roku's allegations of search result manipulation. But there's more to unpack here as well. Google talks about delivering a "high quality and consistent experience" but doesn't elaborate. It was claimed yesterday that Google made threats concerning the inclusion of pricey chipsets and memory that would raise the price of Roku streaming hardware. However, a report from Protocol sheds additional light on that claim.

According to the publication, Google is angling for streaming hardware makers to support the open-source AV1 codec. However, support for AV1 requires the use of newer, more expensive chipsets in streaming sticks and smart TVs. Support for AV1 has broad industry support from power players like Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Intel, Facebook, Arm, Samsung, NVIDIA, and many more. Given that AV1 is royalty-free and reduces bandwidth requirements, it stands to reason that Roku would eventually join the chorus. However, it probably doesn't want its hand forced when it comes to AV1 support.

Google and Roku will most likely come to an eventual agreement over YouTube TV, but for now, we're just seeing their dirty laundry aired out in public.