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Roku reaches 53 million customers, demurs comment on YouTube TV

(Image: Roku, Inc. / Graphic: The Desk)

Content disputes with several developers have not dampened customer interest in the streaming television platform Roku, apparently.

This week, the streaming hardware maker said its Roku operating system reaches more than 53 million customers around the world, making it one of the most-popular streaming platforms in the United States and playing in the major leagues globally.

Amazon’s Fire TV platforms and Samsung’s smart operating system Tizen are strong competitors in the global streaming platform battle, but Roku’s support for popular streaming apps combined with its ease of use and low barrier to entry have made it stand out with customers.

This, despite the fact that Roku has left some of its customers frustrated thanks to its insistence on crafting cable-like carriage agreements with certain app developers who want to make their services available through the platform. Over the last few years, customers have found themselves unable to access apps developed by Fox Corporation, AT&T, Charter/Spectrum and Comcast’s NBC Universal after Roku insisted on certain financial terms.

Currently, Roku is engaged in an ongoing spat with Google over the popular streaming service YouTube TV, which offers local and national networks comparable to what someone would find on cable or satellite television.

Late last month, Roku warned its users that YouTube TV could be dropped from their platform after Google purportedly made several demands it felt were unreasonable, including a request that would ultimately result in Roku having to modify its hardware. Google disputes its requests were unreasonable, and accused Roku of using heavy-handed negotiating tactics.

YouTube TV was eventually pulled from Roku’s “Channel Store,” though it remains accessible to customers who previously installed it on their devices before the carriage dispute. Roku has warned streamers that Google could turn off support for the app at a later date.

This week, Roku executives declined to offer any new feedback on its YouTube TV battle during a conference call with investors.

“We’re working to resolve this in a positive way for Roku and Google and, ultimately, for consumers,” Scott Rosenberg, Roku’s senior vice president for its platform business, said during the call.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).