Potential ways to bypass Google’s YouTube block on the Amazon Fire TV

I’m hopeful that Amazon and Google will come to an agreement that keeps the current YouTube app for Fire TV devices functioning before Google actually blocks access on January 1st, 2018. Amazon’s official statement on the matter ends with “we hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible,” so they’re hopeful as well. If Google does block YouTube on the Fire TV, I’m confident that there will be ways to bypass the block and continue watching YouTube videos on Fire TV devices.

There are several ways that Google can go about blocking the existing YouTube app, which is made by Amazon, on Fire TV devices. Google might structure their block in such a way that it only blocks the main YouTube app, or they might implement a more widespread block. There’s no way to know which methods of viewing YouTube on Fire TV devices will work after January 1st until Google implements their block. For that reason, I have not tried all of these methods yet. If Google does block YouTube, I’ll investigate all alternate methods further and write a followup post with more concrete recommendations. For now, here are some possible alternative ways to watch YouTube.

1. Loading youtube.com/tv in the Silk Browser
The current YouTube “app” is simply just a shortcut that loads YouTube’s TV-friendly website located at youtube.com/tv. If YouTube targets their block at only the current app, you will be able to load YouTube in the Silk Browser and have a similar experience. My new Bookmarker apps will help you access the page with a single click from the Fire TV home screen.

2. Cloning the current YouTube app with a spoofed ID
If Google’s YouTube block extends to other apps beyond the existing YouTube app, like the Silk Browser, it might be possible for an app developer to clone the existing YouTube app but force it to identify itself as a non-Fire TV device in order to bypass Google’s block. We’ll have to wait for Google to implement their block to know how viable this option is.

3. Sideloading the Android TV YouTube app
The YouTube app for Android TV devices might work on the Fire TV after the block is put in place. It would require sideloading multiple APKs in a specific order, similar to how you install the Google Play Music app on the Fire TV.

4. Third-party YouTube Apps
There are dozens of dedicated YouTube apps available that are not made by Google or Amazon that will potentially continue to work on Fire TV devices after Google blocks YouTube. Tab for uTube is one that is already in the Fire TV appstore. Smart YouTube TV is one that can be sideloaded that people are already deciding to use over the existing YouTube app.

5. YouTube add-ons for Kodi or Plex
Kodi has a YouTube add-on that might continue to work. There is also a similar YouTube plugin for Plex that might be a good option for some people.

6. Cast/AirPlay YouTube
There are numerous casting and AirPlay apps that are already in the Fire TV appstore that support sending YouTube videos from a mobile device to the Fire TV. It’s not as convenient as a dedicated app, but sending videos from a mobile device might be a good alternative. The official YouTube app for both Android and iOS mobile devices supports the DIAL open standard, so you likely wouldn’t need to use an app other than the official YouTube app to send video to the Fire TV, but if that does get blocked, there are also dedicated casting apps that handle both sides of the task that might still work.

7. Dedicated YouTube channel apps
There are literally thousands of Fire TV apps that are nothing more than a dedicated feed of a single YouTube channel. Fullscreen Inc, one of the top YouTube Partner Networks, has created over 1,500 apps for their YouTube channels alone, so you might be able to find dedicated apps for your favorite creators and not need to use a general YouTube app.

Again, I’ll post much more detailed recommendations and instructions if Google does go through with the block.

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47 comments
  1. Gary says:

    Option 8: Buy an Nvidia Shield instead of supporting Amazon’s practices of not allowing competing devices to be sold on amazon.com.

    • Tech3475 says:

      Sure, suggest one of the more expensive alternatives which coincidentally is sold on Amazon.

      • FirstWorldProblems says:

        You can go to many other fine retail establishments to purchase this. Google for one :P

        • tech3475 says:

          But it’s a poor protest purchase.

          One of the reasons I’ve read for the current dispute is over Amazon services and Google wanting a cut of sales made through their payment system.

          Amazon made a deal with Nvidia to have Amazon Video available on the Shield officially, the kind of deal Amazon likely wants with Google.

          The Shield is also a competing product being sold on Amazon, even though the reason why Gary was saying to buy a Shield was because of Amazon’s practice of ‘not allowing competing devices’ (presumably they still allow it because of the deal).

          If protesting is what’s behind a purchase decision, then you would really need to purchase something which isn’t sold or supported by Amazon such as the Chromecast.

          • tech3475 says:

            update:

            Yes I’m aware they sell generic android boxes and Android TV, only prohibiting ‘fully loaded’ Kodi piracy boxes.

            Perhaps ‘competing platforms’ would be a better term to use.

          • Brian H. says:

            They must of come to terms with Nvidia. Because it seems they block other Google devices. Like my Vizio with Googlecast and Chromecast upstairs do not show up in Netflix as a casting choice. However the Shield tv does. All my Google phones and tablets all show them.

    • clocks says:

      Can we stop this nonsense of Amazon just wanting to block competition? If that were the case, they would not be selling the Shield, Roku, etc..

      • Peter says:

        So what do you call Amazon not selling Chromecast, or Google Home? They forgot it?

        • Adam says:

          More tellingly, the did sell Chromecast, before they
          [ahem] chose not to.

          Yes, indeed, there is nonsense to be stopped, but its not the claim that Amazon is blocking competition.

          This is, of course, their right. But lets not fanboi it into anything other than what it is.

    • Jake T says:

      Amazon subsidizes the FireTV, so if you don’t actually buy any movies or TV shows from Amazon, they actually lose money on the hardware. So don’t feel like you need to get rid of the thing to stop supporting Amazon!

    • tom42 says:

      So Should Apple.com be forced to sell Windows 10 too?

      • Peter says:

        People go to Amazon to buy things. People go to Apple.com to buy Apple products because that’s all Apple sells. Apple.com is not an online retailer. That’s a huge difference.

        • John L says:

          Apple.com does sell online. You make it sound like Amazon is the only online retailer. It is not, and last time I checked you could buy apple products online from other retailers besides Amazon. The fact that Amazon supports Roku and Nvidia shows they work with their partners.

          Do you buy everything online from Amazon? I suppose you don’t, but don’t let that get in the way of your argument.

    • Charlie says:

      OR, buy a Roku. Sure, you can’t load Kodi, but Roku has no dog in any race and can stream Amazon, as well as YouTube. I just ordered the new stick plus for my bedroom TV in preparation for losing YouTube on my FTV. I’m on YouTube several times every day and not having it would be a big loss for me.

      • Tech3475 says:

        I’m thinking along the same lines, my plan is to wait and see what happens first before buying anything as they could either come to an agreement or I find a decent work around,

      • Angela Ghoorahoo says:

        And me. The reason we have Amazon fire is to have YouTube on three TVs. I use YouTube for a lot of reasons. If we lose YouTube then I wished I hadn’t got Amazon fire.

  2. fred lance says:

    Option 9: Buy a mibox

  3. Michael says:

    Glad I bought a Chromecast on sale for twenty bucks Black Friday.

  4. akbar khan says:

    You tube is free as Kodi is free channel not for all country where blocked exist there own misunderstanding in educating freedom.it does give freedom of education to all country choice are your how you sell why you sell.

  5. Xiaolei says:

    Has anyone tried silk browser to load youtube.com/tv?
    It does not work very well for me. The direction pad does not navigate through videos but moves a cursor.

  6. Spritey says:

    Just bought / returned lousy android box with hope to run YouTube. Kodi is no go on Roku. Hopefully they’ll play nice

    Advice on who we all should call en-masse to complain & pressure?

  7. Tampa8 says:

    Nice list of options.

  8. B r uce says:

    I bought a cromecast dongle thing, a piece of junk, worked for a short time 2 out of 20 times, gave up on it.

  9. FirstWorldProblems says:

    Minix to the rescue.

  10. Andrew says:

    Yes, the cat and mouse games are about to begin… *sigh*

  11. JoeB says:

    Everyone should have at least a Roku Stick, it has all the major channels/apps. Roku just works.

  12. cheryl says:

    Just bought the firestick for my birthday I’m 54 Thanks alot just another scam to make people miserable..i was enjoying YouTube and so do my grandkids.This is down right horrible.

  13. bromix says:

    It’s the User-Agent of the Amazon YouTubeApp:
    “Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/27.0.1453.93 Safari/537.36 Mozilla/5.0 (PLAYSTATION 3; 3.55)”
    You can test it with every Desktop-Browser.
    You’ve to patch the *.dex file (by keeping the same length) the user-agent string.
    Sadly my Fire TV won’t install my self-signed APK. Someone has a tip?

  14. David Peterson says:

    Right now you can get a free Roku Stick when you purchase one month of “DirecTV Now” service. I did it and love the Roku and “DirecTV Now”.

    • cecelia carugan says:

      I also love the Roku I got it free from Sling last year I had already purchased two fire sticks which I rarely use anymore the Roku is much easier to use to get apps on and also aren’t constantly wanting your pin number ,I just got the Philo app for 20$ a month they don’t carry sports but have all the channels I love good bye Sling.

  15. Hackfleisch says:

    I don’t care for that silly finger pointing nor do I have illusions about the altruistic nature of big business. But since all they really do is block access to youtube.com/tv from all devices that identify “Fire TV” somehow, I hope authorities look into this, either in the US or EU. Not to help amazon, but to save net neutrality. This is a very different thing than amazon not selling chromecasts.

  16. Rican says:

    Silk works just fine! Thank you!!!

  17. Paul_Aris says:

    I just switched over to the Kodi Youtube app and like it so far. Hopefully this one doesn’t get blocked. I would hate to have to use a different smart device everytime I switch apps. I do have a smart tv with the Youtube app so I am sure that would still work seing how it is a samsung and not amazon.

  18. Wolfmanbass says:

    I created a app that simply loads the YouTube.com/tv page. I tried to submit it to the Amazon app store but it was rejected.

    • clocks says:

      I wonder if after negotiations wrap up, if there is still no deal in place, if your app will get approved. They may not want to do it now.

  19. Farfa End says:

    I bought a Firestick a few months ago because I just couldn’t work the complicated remotes. I’m 75 yrs. old and just can’t fathom all those teeny little buttons. I loved YouTube and am very upset I can’t watch the old movies now in the evenings on my Fire TV. These corporate games are just vindictive and with no thought to the actual users who are funding their salaries.

  20. Dinky Dido says:

    Think I’ll just treat myself to a smart TV. Won’t have any problems then, or will I.???

  21. Natalia says:

    I just recently switched from wireless to ethernet. Which one of the other (Chromecast, Roku, etc) is ethernet connectable?

  22. Derrik says:

    in the mean time i’ll use my ps4 or vizio tv. but the next device i use might not be an amazon one.

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