On Thursday, Roku announced that it was removing all Fox apps from its platform, just days before the Super Bowl. While Roku and Fox duke it out over a new distribution deal, you can still stream the Big Game without paying for a live TV subscription. NFL spokesman Alex Riethmiller told Fast Company the Roku NFL app will still stream the game for free, but it won’t be in 4K.
The drama continues — After the sudden removal of Fox apps yesterday, Fox sent a brusque statement to several news outlets which you can read in full on The Verge. The company claims they haven’t asked Roku to remove its apps and the move is an “intimidation tactic.”
“Roku’s threat to delete FOX apps from its customers’ devices is a naked effort to use its customers as pawns,” reads the statement. “Roku’s tactics are a poorly timed negotiating ploy, fabricating a crisis with no thought for the alarm it generated among its own customers.”
Wait, this sounds familiar — If this kind of negotiation drama is ringing some bells, you’re probably thinking about cable negotiations that hold customers hostage. Funnily enough, a recent amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 prohibits this exact kind of behavior from multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). The amendment was especially meant to encourage good faith negotiations between MVPDs and large groups of broadcast stations.
Too bad Roku isn’t an MVPD like Comcast or even a virtual MVPD like Sling. It’s technically within its rights to upend the plans of its customers to force a new, better distribution deal.