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Roku blames Google 'monopoly power' for possible YouTube blackout

"Negotiations with Google to carry YouTube TV have broken down," Roku said.

A person partially obscured by the Roku-brand 39" TV box they are carrying toward the checkout area of a big box store

Roku is emerging as one of the streaming war's biggest players.

Photo: Luke Sharrett/Getty Images

Roku today sent a blistering warning to users of its streaming devices and televisions that viewers may be about to lose access to YouTube TV — and placed the blame squarely at Google's feet.

"Negotiations with Google to carry YouTube TV have broken down," Roku wrote, a familiar framing to anyone who has ever put up with a cable blackout. But where cable blackouts tend to focus on how much a content provider wants a cable company to pay for their channel, Roku instead says this fight is about anticompetitive behavior.

"We will always stand up for our users, which is why we cannot accept Google's unfair and anticompetitive requirements to manipulate your search results, impact the usage of your data, and ultimately cost you more," Roku said. "We are deeply disappointed in Google's decision to use their monopoly power to try and force terms that will directly harm streamers."

Nonetheless, Roku added, it remains in talks with Google and hopes to reach a new agreement. It encouraged subscribers to contact Google directly to persuade the tech giant to "follow standard industry practices pledging not to require access to sensitive search data or to manipulate your search results."

Google denied Roku's allegations, calling them baseless. We have been working with Roku in good faith to reach an agreement that benefits our viewers and their customers," a YouTube TV spokesperson said via email. "We have made no requests to access user data or interfere with search results. We hope we can resolve this for the sake of our mutual users."

The Department of Justice and the attorneys general for 52 U.S. states and territories are currently suing Google over alleged antitrust violations.

Update: This post was updated with Google's statement.

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