YouTube crams YouTube TV into its main app on Roku

Roku yanked YouTube TV from its store last week amid a dispute.


A week after Roku removed the YouTube TV app from its store amid a dispute, viewers have another way to watch the live TV service. Google simply added YouTube TV to the main YouTube app with a button on the left menu bar.

The company plans to bring YouTube TV to the main app on "as many other devices as we can over time," but it's a Roku-only feature for now. It'll be available to all YouTube TV users on Roku within the next few days. If you already had the YouTube TV app on a Roku device before it vanished from the store, you'll still be able to access the service with it.

Roku accused Google of demanding special treatment for YouTube TV in search results and certain hardware specs that would make its devices more expensive, potentially giving Chromecast a boost as a more attractive option for consumers. Google said it wanted to renew the deal on the existing terms, and accused Roku of acting in bad faith. It claimed Roku has used similar tactics during talks with other streaming services.

"Google’s actions are the clear conduct of an unchecked monopolist bent on crushing fair competition and harming consumer choice," a Roku spokesperson told Engadget. "The bundling announcement by YouTube highlights the kind of predatory business practices used by Google that Congress, Attorneys General and regulatory bodies around the world are investigating."

Talks between Roku and YouTube are continuing in hopes of reaching an agreement. Still, the YouTube team wrote in a blog post that it's "in discussions with other partners to secure free streaming devices in case YouTube TV members face any access issues on Roku." The companies have a deal to keep the main YouTube app in the Roku store until December.

"Roku has not asked for one additional dollar in financial value from YouTube TV," the company's statement on today's YouTube update continued. "We have simply asked Google to stop their anti-competitive behavior of manipulating user search results to their unique financial benefit and to stop demanding access to sensitive data that no other partner on our platform receives today. In response, Google has continued its practice of blatantly leveraging its YouTube monopoly to force an independent company into an agreement that is both bad for consumers and bad for fair competition."

YouTube is also in separate negotiations with Roku about specifications for future devices to "ensure a consistent and high-quality YouTube experience across different devices." In a statement after Roku yanked the app, Google said that Roku asked for exceptions that would "break the YouTube experience," including a lack of support for open-source video codecs YouTube uses for 4K and 8K video.

Update 3:29PM ET: This post was updated with a statement from Roku.