Across many years of coverage of our increasingly shattered media landscape, there is really only one thing that gives us any true hope for the victory of the human spirit over the sharp rise of cold business logic: the continued existence of the little ass SEE what your father makes me do! Energy that permeates any major conflict between content studies and service providers carrying their work to the masses. Once upon a time, you would have seen this battle unfold between networks and cable providers and the like DirecTV and Viacom running massive ad acquisitions to blame each other through their audience, with all the finesse that two parents navigate to get the kids to their room for the first Christmas after the divorce.
Now, however, this kind of battle is far more likely to break out between streaming services and the companies that make the media boxes sit in so many of our homes – and especially Roku, who seems to be getting into one of these pissing matches (med Peacock, or HBO maxetc.) every few months. Which brings us to this week, as things now get more and more “I swear by God, I just can not with this person ”between the set-top box company and Google, over the inclusion of the latter YouTube TV on its list of “channels”.
The details of this are a bit on the technical side – Roku is mad at Google is demanding changes to its technical specifications to support its content, while accusing the data company of juggling its search results to control how content is served to users – but we just can not resist drama. “We are disappointed that Google has allowed our YouTube TV distribution agreement to expire,” Roku said in a statement this week, using the passive voice as a scalpel. Roku adds, “has not asked for a dollar extra financial consideration from Google to renew YouTube TV.” Not a dollar, you hear?
But YouTube / Google responded to this mounting of the principle barricades with one of its own, penning a blog post this weekend accuses Roku of negotiating in bad faith and reminding users that the mega-corps billion dollars have only one concern in all this: How you are feeling, bud. “The most important thing for us is to ensure that you are taken care of and that the experience of our shared users is good … We cannot give Roku special treatment at the expense of the users. To be clear, we have never, as they have claimed, made any requests to access user data or interfere with search results. This claim is unfounded and false. “And Frank, the new guy who was at breakfast last Saturday? Frank is just Google special friend.
As professional monitors of the media landscape / children from divorce themselves, our advice to current Roku subscribers is simple: Milk this thing, baby. We smell a dirt bike and a PlayStation, at least.