A Google exec reportedly asked Roku to give YouTube search results special treatment

Roku remote in front of a TV running Roku OS
Roku remote in front of a TV running Roku OS (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • A 2019 email allegedly shows Google requesting special treatment for YouTube on Roku's platform.
  • The email reportedly says that Roku must include a dedicated results shelf for YouTube.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar weighs in on the matter amid her push for new legislation to prohibit this conduct.

A new component has been added to the ongoing spat between Google and Roku. A two-year-old email has allegedly surfaced that shows a Google executive asking to give YouTube special treatment on Roku's streaming platform.

The email, which was viewed by CNBC and dated back to September 2019, reads: "YouTube Position: A dedicated shelf for YT search results is a must."

This would throw Google's defense against Roku's claims out the window, as the company has maintained that it has not asked the streaming platform for any special treatment for YouTube on the best Roku devices.

This comes just a day after Google stated that it would pull the YouTube app from the platform following Roku's blog post calling the search giant out for using its dominance to request manipulate search results and request access to consumer data.

Android Central reached out to Google to comment on the alleged email but did not immediately receive a response.

On Thursday, Senator Amy Klobuchar weighed in on the matter in a statement, highlighting her recent efforts to introduce legislation that will prohibit companies like Google and Amazon from self-preferential treatment.

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.

Meanwhile, if things continue the way they are between Google and Roku, YouTube will no longer be available on new Roku devices after December 9.

Derrek Lee
News Editor

Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.