Some on social media are using the Fox and Roku dispute to make political points. Roku had previously confirmed it was removing multiple Fox channels from its platform, although the dispute has since been settled.
The Fox and Roku situation escalated quickly considering it was Thursday night when Roku users first heard about the issue. The escalation was further expedited due to the Super Bowl taking place on Sunday with many expecting to be able to watch the big game through the Fox app on their Roku device. Something that quickly became obvious was not going to be the case if the channels were removed.
Due to the timing of the game and the fast-approaching deadline, many users were unhappy with the situation. Fox even released a statement explaining it was “as surprised and disappointed” as affected users which further seemed to lay the blame at Roku’s door. Further adding to the pressure on Roku, familiar Fox News and Fox Nation faces. including Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Tomi Lahren, and Jeanine Pirro, tweeted in unison to raise awareness of the issue.
However, some are now viewing the entire dispute as Roku taking some kind of political stance against Fox. Earlier today, Jon Cooper, Chairman of the Democratic Coalition, tweeted out an article that focused on Fox’s use of familiar Fox faces to raise awareness of the issue.
The tweet itself is rapidly gaining momentum with many now praising Roku for taking a stance against Fox. Even though, this is not what has happened, and an agreement between the two had already been reached long before the original tweet went out.
More streaming politics than party politics
While the perception that this was a political issue between Fox and Roku is likely to have been partly fueled by the use of Fox New and Nation faces, moves like this are nothing new in TV disputes. Companies often turn to their talent or channels to help draw attention to an ongoing dispute and to build social media pressure for a deal to be done. It is a common tactic and one that frequently proves effective – as was the case last year when Viacom built up significant social media pressure on AT&T when AT&T was threatening to remove some Viacom channels from its live TV services, including AT&T TV NOW.
The reality is this situation had very little to do with party politics. If anything, it was more an example of how the politics of the streaming world have evolved. While some are viewing this through the prism that Roku was making a political point, it wasn’t. Roku clearly explained this was the result of the licensing terms coming to an end and no replacement agreement due to take over. Roku even stated how it had “tried for months to get FOX to sign an agreement” while adding “we can’t distribute content without an agreement” and that an agreement gives Roku “the legal right to distribute.”
Where this will be an eye-opener for some is that such disputes are normally the result of a breakdown of communications between a channel owner and a company looking to retransmit that channel. For example, a live TV streaming service like Sling TV wanting to include a network channel bundled with the other channels it has agreements to distribute. Many won’t have previously identified Roku in this was with Roku more thought of as a hardware solution that any service can release an app through. In other words, a company that’s removed from such disagreements.
However, the dispute with Fox now highlights that’s not the case with Roku as involved in streaming politics as AT&T, Dish, Viacom, and everyone else.