Roku Was Hours Away From Being Free Of YouTube Comments
A clash of online titans has come to a conclusion, allowing us mere consumers to continue to spend hours streaming YouTube videos over Roku devices. On the one side was Roku, the number one streaming solution in North America by a wide margin and on the other side was Alphabet who operate under the belief that they are the internet … and aren’t completely wrong about that in many cases.
The battle started over two things, Alphabet’s insistence that a YouTube TV search bar appear on the Roku smart TV interface and their demand that Roku support their AV1 codec. Roku has been using the H.265 to encode it’s streams thanks to the support for inexpensive hardware decoders which allows them to keep the cost of their stand alone devices as well as TVs with Roku built in relatively low. The AVI codec may be royalty free but it also needs better hardware and software than H.265 can make do with and better hardware means higher costs, not to mention Roku’s understandable reluctance to allow Google to dictate what hardware they use in their products.
Google on the other hand, would like to see the codec they invested in heavily become the new standard, and forcing anyone who wants to watch YouTube videos to support AV1 is effective leverage to use. They have also expressed concerns that Roku is trying to monopolize the streaming device market, much to the amusement of those who pay attention to such things.
You will still be able to stream YouTube today and for the foreseeable future as you were in the past, and those that use YouTube TV can still access it via that YouTube app. Roku has not said anything about adopting AV1 at this time, which may mean you won’t have the option to stream in 8K any time soon, we will see what effect, if any, that has on Roku sales in the near future.
Roku has said that adding AV1 support to its devices would "increase consumer costs," and requiring it for YouTube and YouTube TV support would effectively allow Google to dictate which chips Roku uses in its own products.