Frustrated Chromecast and Fire TV users can now breathe a sigh of relief: parent companies Google and Amazon have announced that apps for YouTube and Prime Video are officially available the other company’s CTV devices. That means Prime Video can be cast once again using Chromecast and is on Android TV devices. And YouTube’s app is available on Fire TV Stick (2nd gen), Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick Basic Edition, and Fire TV smart TVs (e.g. Toshiba, Insignia, Element, Westinghouse).
The resolution was signaled a few months ago and comes after two years of tit-for-tat moves between the companies related to Amazon’s decision not to sell some of Google’s Nest products and Google disabling YouTube from working on Amazon’s Echo Show device (the new agreement doesn’t mention YouTube on Echo Show).
The whole fracas illustrated how intertwined content services, devices and online sales have become. YouTube is a massive video service that Google wants on all third-party CTV devices to increase viewership and ad monetization (recent research showed nearly half of video ad impressions now occur on CTVs). Google’s Nest devices are critical to its whole home strategy, yet it needs Amazon’s powerful platform to drive unit sales.
Meanwhile Amazon is investing heavily in original programming and also wants its Prime Video app on all devices, as it battles Netflix (and soon Disney+ and Apple TV+) for share of SVOD viewership.
So even though both companies had ample incentives to resolve their differences, it took a while to do so. Along the way it was owners of the companies’ devices that suffered by not being able to get access to these popular content services. And a clear winner was Roku, which, as an independent third party, has had both YouTube and Prime Video (not to mention thousands of other apps).
Big tech companies like Amazon and Google are jostling for the pole position in various aspects of our lives. To the extent that any one of them decides to tweak their strategy and disadvantage a competitor, there will be periodic disruptions to consumers.