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Roku customers are furious over loss of Fox apps before Super Bowl

Roku and Fox are trading barbs over who exactly is to blame for a sudden loss of several Fox-programmed apps from Roku’s streaming TV service.

Earlier this week, Roku sent a note to customers saying Fox-programmed apps — including Fox Now, Fox Nation, Fox News and Fox Sports — would be removed by the end of the month due to an expiring agreement between the two companies. Fox, the official broadcaster of the upcoming Super Bowl, said the move came as a surprise to them, adding it did not direct Roku to remove the channels.

It wasn’t immediately clear what kind of “agreement” Roku needed to forge with Fox in order to carry the apps. Hundreds of software developers have made apps available on the Roku platform without any kind of financial or data agreement with Roku. But twice now, Roku has arbitrarily removed popular channels over lapses in “agreements” with big-named developers (earlier this year, it pulled AT&T TV Now over a similar dispute with the telephone company).

Customers are caught in the middle, and many are upset with Roku — this year’s Super Bow is set to stream through the Fox Sports app for free, and Roku customers were looking forward to accessing the stream as the only way to watch an upscaled version of the game in Ultra High Definition or “4K.”

“I guess Roku doesn’t rock my world,” customer Scott Miller wrote in a Facebook group dedicated to Roku’s hardware and services. “I am writing Roku Customer Service as to my displeasure.”

Miller said he would be switching to a competing device built and sold by Amazon to watch the free 4K stream of the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Roku said there will be other ways for customers to stream the game on Sunday, including through the NFL app, though it warned the stream could be unavailable if Fox “blocks it.”

On Facebook, customer Gabriella Stance questioned how Fox could block access to a stream offered on a separate Roku app.

“If NFL has the rights to stream the game live, then how the hell could Fox block it?” Stance wrote. “That makes no sense to me.”

Many customers aren’t sure who is to blame for the loss of Fox channels on Roku, in large part because both companies aren’t being specific about the kind of “agreement” forged between them.

“So funny that Roku says that it is Fox’s fault and I received and email from Fox stating that it was Roku’s fault,” Facebook user Joyce Lemke wrote.

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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).