Google to remove YouTube from new Roku devices on December 9th

History repeats itself, only this time it’s not Google leveraging the popularity of YouTube against Amazon and Fire TVs, but against Roku and new Roku devices. Google has stated that it will be removing the YouTube app from the Roku channel store on December 9th, which will prevent new and factory reset Roku devices from accessing the video service, according to Variety. This is a result of negotiations between Google and Roku regarding app distribution terms going nowhere for the past 6 months, which has already resulted in the removal of YouTube TV from the Roku channel store.

The dispute between Roku and Google over the YouTube TV app, and now the YouTube app, goes back to at least April, when Roku’s deal to distribute YouTube TV expired without a new agreement being reached. This resulted in Roku removing YouTube TV from its channel store, preventing new devices from installing it. Roku devices that already had YouTube TV installed continued to have access to the app and service. Google responded by providing access to YouTube TV through the separate YouTube app on Roku devices.

Now Google is threatening to do the removing with the upcoming removal of the YouTube app from the Roku channel store in just over a month. Google has not stated that it will be blocking access to YouTube on Roku devices that already have YouTube installed, but it certainly has that ability, since that’s what it threatened on Fire TV devices at the start of 2018 when Amazon and Google bumped heads.

Back then, Amazon responded to the impending loss of YouTube by releasing the Silk Browser, followed by Firefox releasing its browser, on Fire TV devices just days before Google’s deadline. This allowed Fire TV users to continue to access YouTube through its web-based TV interface, which was virtually identical to the regular YouTube app, since all TV-based YouTube apps are just browsers loading a YouTube website anyway. Amazon continued to improve the browser-based access to YouTube with improvements like 4K support, voice controls, and support for casting videos. The disagreement ended about a year and a half later when official YouTube and YouTube TV apps from Google returned to Fire TVs in 2019.

Should Google go through with its threat to remove the YouTube app or block access on Roku devices, Roku will not be able to circumvent the blocking of YouTube through a browser as Amazon did. That’s because YouTube has since taken down its web-based TV interface, most likely to prevent any future streaming device manufacturer from using the exact type of workaround that Amazon used. If Roku creates a browser app to access YouTube.com, the experience will likely be horrible, since YouTube will likely serve the desktop version of its site. Roku could choose to spoof the browser user agent of a competing streaming device, which may trick YouTube into serving its TV interface to a Roku-made browser, but it would surely just be a matter of time before Google caught on and resumed blocking access.

15 comments
  1. Darren says:

    I feel like this hurts Google’s business more than it helps with the popularity of Roku devices. I am not sure how saturated the current market is, versus future projections – maybe that’s their angle… so many Roku devices out there that already have the app.

    Google and their games… never ends.

  2. TechyChris says:

    Good Grief! This is turning into Groundhog Day…which, ironically, you can watch on YouTube if you had it.

  3. Adam says:

    This has to be a good idea.

    I mean it clearly was when they did something similar on the FireTV, forcing me to discover an alternative I didn’t know about. I then discovered that its use, in contrast to the YoutTube app, benefitted me more than it did Google, so much so that I stayed with the alternative even when Google let the official YouTube app back on the FireTV platform.

    I would never had made that discovery without their little feud with Amazon. Yep, good call Google.

  4. Charlie says:

    Roku could allow other apps, such Smart Tube Next to be installed. That would be a double dig to Google, since it blocks their ads!

    • Kawshik Ahmed says:

      Smart Tube is an Android app, Fire TV can’t run it because it also uses Android inside.
      Roku uses it’s own proprietary OS and don’t allow sideloading even if the dev created a Roku OS version.
      Also Roku ask too much user data from developers that’s why they had problems with HBO and Universe. Not a ideal platform for making apps.

      • Kawshik Ahmed says:

        Edit:*Fire TV can run

      • Adam says:

        Sounds to me to be a decent reason to choose a FireTV (my gateway drug), or a Shield (my current choice).

        I’ll admit I’m sympathetic to Roku here, but their need to lock down their users through a restrictive, proprietary OS is actually being used against them here.

  5. EJ Max+ says:

    Just another good reason for having a variety of streaming media players installed.

  6. Ron says:

    Media giants. Gotta love ’em.

  7. Matt says:

    Annoying since I watch YouTube TV on roku smart TVs. Already sucks cause it takes forever now getting into the YouTube app first, then scrolling all the way down to the YouTube TV app. Not happy with with company

  8. Not Happy says:

    If Roku doesn’t reach a deal with Google I will remove both of my streaming Roku TVs Permanently and switch to Sony

  9. Not Happy says:

    If Roku doesn’t reach a deal with Google I will remove both of my streaming Roku TVs Permanently and switch to Sony

    Thank you

    • John says:

      Chromecast with Google TV, then set up the Roku tv to switch to the Chromecast when it powers on. Done and cheaper than buying new TV’s, unless you want to buy TV’s anyway..

  10. Shawn Malseed says:

    Screw Tv..it all sucks read a book learn a instrument or learn to draw. Learning is fun increase your brain power.Go outside and walk or run and never come back!

  11. Joe says:

    I will cancel youtube tv and go with hulu

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