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Google & Roku fighting over AV1 video codec, search

29 Apr 2021 | Rasmus Larsen |

Roku accuses Google of anti-competitive behavior and warns that YouTube TV could be removed from its platform. It is really a fight over the AV1 video format and search, reports Protocol.

Codec fight

In emails to users and public statements, Roku has accused Google of using its "monopoly position" to force it to accept specific terms. If it refuses, the YouTube TV app could be removed, it said. - "Google is attempting to use its YouTube monopoly position to force Roku into accepting predatory, anti-competitive and discriminatory terms that will directly harm Roku and our users. 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," a Roku spokesperson said. What are those "predatory, anti-competitive and discriminatory terms"? Google is requiring partners to adopt the AV1 video codec, according to a report from Protocol. Starting this month, all new Android TV devices must support AV1 and Google is apparently also pushing non-Android partners, like Roku, to support AV1 in future products. Also read: Sony embraces the AV1 video format with its 2021 TVs Many industry players see AV1 as the next step for video but the challenge is that it requires upgraded hardware. The new video format was developed by the Alliance for Open Media; governing members include Amazon, Apple, ARM, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix, and Samsung.


Google wants to put AV1 inside your Roku TV

Google responds

Google also wants YouTube search results to be shown more prominently on Roku's platform, according to the report. And it is not the first time that Google has used its market power to force Roku's hand, the company claims. Google has fired back by saying that Roku's claims are "baseless" and that it often engages in "these types of tactics" in negotiations. - "We have been working with Roku in good faith to reach an agreement that benefits our viewers and their customers. Unfortunately, Roku often engages in these types of tactics in their negotiations. We're disappointed that they chose to make baseless claims while we continue our ongoing negotiations. All of our work with them has been focused on ensuring a high quality and consistent experience for our viewers. We have made no requests to access user data or interfere with search results. We hope we can resolve this for the sake of our mutual users," a YouTube TV spokesperson said. - Source: Protocol

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