Roku and Google have struck an 11th-hour deal to keep YouTube’s apps on Roku’s streaming devices and smart TVs. The two companies renewed their distribution agreement for both YouTube TV as well as the main YouTube app, which was set to expire on Thursday. Without such a deal, YouTube apps would have disappeared from Roku's devices.
"Roku and Google have agreed to a multi-year extension for both YouTube and YouTube TV," a Roku spokesperson said via email. "This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform."
"We are pleased to have a partnership that benefits our mutual users,” a YouTube spokesperson added in a separate statement.
The deal follows a few months of tense negotiations, complete with a lot of finger-pointing from both sides. News of the dispute first broke in April, when Roku announced that negotiations between the two companies had broken down. To force Google’s hand, Roku removed the YouTube TV app from its app store; Google responded by integrating the pay TV service directly into the main YouTube app.
At the center of the dispute weren’t any monetary issues; Google has never shared YouTube advertising revenue with Roku. Instead, Google was requiring Roku to support the open AV1 video codec to stream YouTube content in 4K on future Roku devices; Roku also alleged that Google was forcing it to give its content preferential treatment in search results, a claim that Google denied.
At this point, it’s unclear who ultimately won the fight. A Roku spokesperson declined to comment on specifics of the deal late Wednesday.
However, It’s not unreasonable to assume that Google will have won at least some new concessions from Roku, given that YouTube is the second-most popular app on the smart TV platform, making it a must-have for the company. In return, Roku likely pushed for a long-term contract, which would give the company some confidence that people using its devices will have access to YouTube for years to come.
Update: This article was updated Dec. 8 with Google's statement.