Roku lashes out at Google for 'unfair' demands, vows to protect user data

Streaming hardware Roku has sent out an email to YouTube TV users stating that Google may take away access to YouTube TV channel on Roku’s platform as negotiations have “broken down”. Calling Google’s terms “unfair” and potentially harmful to users, Roku said it was standing up for users by rejecting “Google's unfair and anticompetitive requirements to manipulate search results, impact the usage of data and ultimately cost consumers more,” the email read.

Roku also said that it remains committed to reaching an agreement with Google that preserves users’ access to YouTube TV, protects their data and ensures a level playing field for companies to compete. “We are deeply disappointed in Google’s decision to use their monopoly power to try and force terms that will directly harm streamers,” the statement read. It asked users to contact Google on Roku’s behalf and urge them to reach an agreement to continue offering YouTube TV on Roku and to follow standard industry practices without access to “sensitive search data”.  

In a statement to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, a spokesperson confirmed the news and claimed that Google is attempting to use its YouTube monopoly position to force Roku into accepting predatory, anti-competitive and discriminatory terms. “Given antitrust suits against Google, investigations by competition authorities of anti-competitive behavior and Congressional hearings into Google’s practices, it should come as no surprise that Google is now demanding unfair and anti-competitive terms that harm Roku’s users,” the spokesperson said.

The statement added that Roku is not asking Google for a single additional dollar in value but “simply cannot agree” to terms that would manipulate consumer search results, inflate the cost of products and violate established industry data practices. 

“Google is already under fire from governments around the world for manipulating search results. It is outrageous that Google would now try to insist on manipulating Roku’s search results as well,” said the spokesperson. According to Statista.com, as of the fourth quarter of 2020, Roku reported a total of 51.2 million monthly active users in the United States.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Google for a statement. 

in 2019, Roku acquired Boston-based dataxu, a demand-side platform (DSP) that enables marketers to plan and buy video ad campaigns for US$150 million in cash and shares of Roku Class A common stock. In 2019 Roku claimed to stream more ad-supported hours than any other OTT platform.

Meanwhile, dataxu provides marketers with an automated bidding and self-serve software solution to manage ad campaigns programmatically across digital platforms. Dataxu utilises advanced TV and OTT media planning tools, a proprietary device graph, and data science to help marketers optimise for business outcomes across TV, OTT (Over-the-top), desktop and mobile. 

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