The Roku and YouTube Dispute Has the Attention of Congress

As the dispute between Roku and Google continues, Congress is taking note and weighing in.

Earlier this year, Roku and Google were unable to come to an agreement to keep YouTube TV on Roku and the app was removed from the Roku Channel Store. Roku claimed Google wanted to skew search results in its favor and change the Roku user experience. Google responded, saying Roku was making “baseless claims.”

This week, Roku made a blog post, letting users know that they aren’t any closer to coming to an agreement and there is a chance that the regular YouTube app will be removed from the platform as well. The post included an explanation of why the two haven’t been able to make a deal.

“There are two primary concerns we are working to address: First, Google continues to interfere with Roku’s independent search results, requiring that we preference YouTube over other content providers. This is a concern shared by many companies who believe that customers deserve neutral and relevant results to their search queries. Second, Google discriminates against Roku by demanding search, voice, and data features that they do not insist on from other streaming platforms.”

The dispute is now getting attention from Congress, with Senator Amy Klobuchar and Congressman David Cicilline both commenting Thursday.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, made the following statement:

“Roku’s claim that Google requires the company to preference YouTube content over that of other providers in Roku’s search results highlights why we need new laws to prevent dominant digital platforms from abusing their power as gatekeepers. For too long, the big tech platforms have leveraged their power to preference their products and services over those of thousands of smaller online businesses. They have said ‘just trust us,’ but experience has shown that we can’t rely on these companies to act fairly in the marketplace. That is why Senator Grassley and I have joined with a bipartisan group of our colleagues to introduce legislation that will set rules of the road to make this type of anticompetitive conduct illegal to prevent harm to businesses and consumers online.”

Congressman Cicilline tweeted that this is the perfect example of Big Tech causing harm to businesses and consumers.

Both Senator Klobuchar and Congressman Cicilline are part of the bipartisan American Innovation and Choice Online Act with a goal “to restore competition online by establishing commonsense rules of the road for dominant digital platforms to prevent them from abusing their market power to harm competition, online businesses, and consumers.”