Google goes nuclear against Roku by adding YouTube TV to the main YouTube app

A week after their broken-down negotiations spilled into the public, Google and Roku still haven’t been able to reach a deal to renew YouTube TV’s presence on the huge streaming platform. But Google has come up with something of a workaround in the meantime: it’s going to let people access YouTube TV directly from the main YouTube app.

YouTube users will start seeing a “Go to YouTube TV” option in the main YouTube app over the next few days. When they select that, they’ll then be switched over to the standard YouTube TV user experience. This option is coming to Roku devices first — where it’s currently most needed — but will also come to YouTube on other platforms as well.

Image: YouTube

In essence, Google has basically stuffed the YouTube TV app into YouTube itself, a solution that seems unlikely to make Roku very happy. The Verge has reached out to Roku for comment. Google says it’s “still working to come to an agreement with Roku to ensure continued access to YouTube TV for our mutual customers,” and it notes the YouTube TV app remains usable for those who already have it installed.

But in the event that things totally fall apart, Google says it’s “in discussions with other partners to secure free streaming devices in case YouTube TV members face any access issues on Roku.”

A Google spokesperson told The Verge that this workaround is only for consumption of YouTube TV; customers cannot sign up for new subscriptions through the YouTube app at this time.

Google also said today that it’s “in ongoing, long-term conversations with Roku to certify that new devices meet our technical requirements,” yet more confirmation that the company is insisting hardware makers implement support for AV1 decoding:

This certification process exists to ensure a consistent and high-quality YouTube experience across different devices, including Google’s own — so you know how to navigate the app and what to expect. We’ll continue our conversations with Roku on certification, in good faith, with the goal of advocating for our mutual customers.

Roku has argued that Google’s requirements are unreasonable and will lead to higher prices for its products. The company is sure to respond to Google’s latest move in short order, so stay tuned to see whether this feud continues to intensify.

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