"We have tried for months to get Fox to sign an agreement and we offered Fox an extension but they declined", Roku said in a note to customers on Friday. Exact terms of the agreement have not been announced, but Roku owners will now keep their FOX Sports, Fox News, & other Fox Roku Channels. "Our distribution contract with FOX Corp is set to expire on January 31, so FOX channels were removed from the Roku Channel Store". Even if Roku unilaterally decides to remove FOX apps, savvy Roku customers know Super Bowl LIV on FOX will be ubiquitously available through streaming providers, FOX apps on the biggest streaming platforms and our website.
For its part, though, Roku told the publication that it had no choice but to remove the apps as a result of this carriage dispute.
In the wake of the removal, Roku addressed concerns and whether or not Fox Sports would be removed as well. Only Roku can remove our apps from your device, and we've not asked them to do that.
The NFL said the platforms will be "free on all devices". What that means for Roku users is that the Super Bowl will once again be streaming.
As of November 2019, Roku said it had 30.5 million active accounts.
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The statement, while attempting to place blame squarely on Roku, fails to acknowledge that Roku customers have plenty of other options for viewing FOX content and the big game.
Fox has deemed the removal of its channels from Roku a "poorly timed negotiations play".
However, in a statement to Variety by Fox Corp., the company claims that the removal of Fox from Roku is "a naked effort to use its customers as pawns".
While the dispute was far from the first ugly PR fight over distribution agreements, the public disagreement highlighted the increased complexities of distribution deals represented by the advent of new players in the pay TV space, whether they're streaming media devices, connected TVs or MVPD services.