If you were hoping to watch the Super Bowl on your Roku TV or set-top box, I hope you don’t mind paying for streaming services like FuboTV, Sling or Hulu, because your existing cable subscription is no good as of today — Roku is pulling all of its Fox apps off of the platform, effective tomorrow, two days before the Big Game.
That might strike you as sudden, considering we reported this very morning that Fox Sports was working hard to bring a 4K HDR stream of the Super Bowl to Roku’s streaming sticks, pucks, and TVs. But minutes ago, Fox Sports removed references to Roku from multiple spots on its Super Bowl website, and we’ve now confirmed with Roku that seven channels in total are leaving… unless Fox and Roku strike a deal.
You see, this isn’t an arbitrary move, or even a technical issue — it’s a carriage dispute between the two companies, Roku tells Mid American Herald. Roku and Fox have a distribution agreement set to expire tomorrow. “We offered Fox an extension… if an agreement is not reached, we’ll be forced to remove the channels,” a company representative says.
Here’s Fox’s statement, which clearly shows how heated this situation is:
Roku’s threat to delete FOX apps from its customers’ devices is a naked effort to use its customers as pawns. 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. 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. Only Roku can pull apps from its customers’ devices, and we would urge them to stop the intimidation tactics and reconsider the merits of irritating their best customers in pursuit of Roku’s own interests.
Roku told us that it would be “forced to remove the channels” if an agreement is not reached, but Fox says that’s false; it’s entirely Roku’s decision.
Either way, these are the seven Fox channels that are disappearing.
- Fox Now
- Fox Sports
- Fox News
- Fox Business
- Fox Soccer
- Big Ten Network
- Fox Nation
Note that even if you still have these Fox apps on your Roku, the company says they won’t work anymore starting tomorrow.
Roku is quick to point out that there are other paid ways to stream Fox and the Super Bowl on Roku devices, and a number of them have free trials if you haven’t previously been a subscriber. Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV, and YouTube TV are options, and a rep says FuboTV may even offer a 4K stream. But it seems like Fox and Roku are playing hardball, and there’s a very good chance you can’t count on Fox’s own Roku apps to bring you the Super Bowl on Sunday.
That may be a surprise to some Roku owners, since this is all that Roku is currently telling them via email — no mention of the game:
We’ll have to wait and see. In the meanwhile, if you’re dead set on watching the game on a Roku, you might want to check out those free trials.
Update January 30th, 11:54PM ET: Added Fox’s statement.