TV Answer Man, I have Roku on all our TVs in the house. Do you know if the reports are true that Roku is losing YouTube and Amazon Prime? We watch both quite often and would be upset if they lost them. What is your understanding on this? — Jenny, Corsicana, Texas.
Jenny, Google, which owns YouTube and YouTube TV, says its partnership with Roku will end on December 9 unless a new carriage agreement is signed by then.
What’s unclear is what that will look like if it occurs. In past Roku carriage disputes, including a current one between YouTube TV and Roku, the device’s users could continue using the affected app if it was previously downloaded. However, they could not install the app from the Roku Channel Store if it had not been downloaded before the dispute began. That could mean that Roku users who have downloaded either YouTube app could keep using it after December 9. But we don’t know that for sure.
As for Amazon Prime, TheInformation.com reported on October 29 that Roku’s agreement with Amazon to carry the IMDb app, and perhaps, the Amazon Prime app, is scheduled to expire early next year. The article says the companies are battling over the sharing of viewer data, among other issues, and it’s unclear if a settlement can be reached in time.
Roku, which now has more than 56 million active accounts, could experience significant defections if it lost both Amazon and the YouTube apps. Which is why Scott Rosenberg, a Roku senior vice president, yesterday attempted to dampen expectations of an impending disaster in an analyst call after the release of the company’s third quarter report.
“So on YouTube…one thing I will say is as we said before, it’s not about the money, it’s about our ability to create the best possible experience for our customers. We’re working to resolve this matter,” Rosenberg said. “We don’t have an update and our goal is to land it in a way that’s positive for Roku and for our customers. As for the Amazon question, we have renewal discussions with hundreds of partners each year. It’s normal course of business. Our goal in these discussions is always to reach an agreement that’s good for our partner, good for our customers, delivers a great user experience. Despite what you may have read, our Amazon agreement is not up for renewal or in negotiations at this time.”
So Roku’s official position is that the company isn’t even in negotiations with Amazon, much less on the brink of a dispute. TheInformation.com immediately responded on Twitter that it stands by its story. So we’ll just have to wait to see how this develops, won’t we?
Until then, happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann