Update: Late Friday, Roku announced that it reached a deal to keep streaming Fox apps. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Roku says Fox’s app is leaving its service just two days before the Super Bowl, as the two companies enter into a streaming-rights skirmish over the terms of their contract.
On Thursday, Roku notified users of its streaming-video platform that its deal with Fox—which has the broadcast rights to Sunday's Big Game—will end on Jan. 31 because the two sides are at odds over extending their partnership.
On Friday, Fox blamed Roku for escalating the dispute. Fox said that Roku could keep offering its apps, even while the sides negotiate.
“Roku’s threat to delete Fox apps from its customers’ devices is a naked effort to use its customers as pawns,” a Fox spokeswoman said in an email statement to Ad Age. “To be clear, Fox has not asked Roku to remove our apps, and we would prefer Roku continue to make them available without interruption. Roku’s tactics are a poorly timed negotiating ploy, fabricating a crisis with no thought for the alarm it generated among its own customers.”
On Thursday, Roku said Fox rejected an offer to extend their agreement. “We offered Fox an extension so that Roku can continue to bring a large and valuable audience to Fox. If an agreement is not reached, we will be forced to remove Fox channels from the Roku platform.”
On Friday, Roku commented further, claiming its digital video platform could not stream apps without a deal in place. Roku also said the Fox negotiations have been dragging on for months. “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. “If an agreement is not reached, we will be forced to remove Fox channels from the Roku platform because we can’t distribute content without an agreement. Every content provider has a distribution agreement on every platform. It gives us the legal right to distribute.”
Viewers still have plenty of options to watch the Super Bowl, on and off Roku. People could log into the game on Roku’s devices via YouTube TV, Hulu Live, Sling TV and Fubo, all of which are third parties that also carry Fox. Roku also says the game will stream on NFL’s app.
Fox apps also are available on a number of digital streaming players like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Google Chromecast, among others.