Rumor: NBCU to Pull TV Apps From Roku Amid Fight Over Peacock Deal Terms

This may turn out to be not so good for NASCAR and IndyCar TV viewership. The dispute between Roku and NBCUniversal over distribution of the fledgling Peacock streaming service has taken a nasty turn.

Late Thursday, Comcast-owned NBCUniversal notified Roku that the media company plans to force Roku to pull access to NBCU’s TV Everywhere channels on the Roku platform, including the flagship NBC app. Comcast may require Roku to delete the channels, a total of 46 NBCU apps, as early as this weekend, according to a notice Roku sent to customers Friday morning.​

In a statement, a Roku spokesman said, “Comcast is removing the channels in order to try to force Roku to distribute its new Peacock service on unreasonable terms. While the NBC TV Everywhere apps represent an insignificant amount of streaming hours and revenue on our platform, we believe they are important to those consumers who use them, especially when so many Americans are at home.”

Asked for comment, an NBCU rep said, “We are disappointed Roku is removing its users’ free access to NBCUniversal programming — 11 network apps, 12 NBC-owned station apps, 23 Telemundo-owned station apps — and continues to block access to the only free premium streaming service available in the market, Peacock. Roku’s unreasonable demands ultimately hurt both their consumers and their consumer equipment partners to whom they’ve promised access to all apps in the marketplace.”

Hardly anyone streams NASCAR and IndyCar races anyway. The numbers are still small.

NBCU’s distribution deal for the TV apps with Roku expired at the end of August. Roku had offered to extend the existing deal terms for those TV Everywhere channels while the parties keep trying to hammer out an agreement for Peacock. “Comcast has declined our extension offer and so far has also refused fair and equitable business terms for the distribution of Peacock — despite the fact that they stand to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue from its distribution on the Roku platform,” the Roku rep said.

With respect to Peacock on Roku, the impasse in talks relates to access to advertising inventory on the ad-supported versions of the NBCU streamer.

According to Roku, Peacock has refused to grant any ad inventory to Roku, arguing that it is offering the app at no cost to Roku customers and is delivering 5 minutes or less of ads per hour of programming, which it sells to a hand-picked set of marketers. Roku’s standard distribution terms ask for 30% of advertising inventory, and the company has offered to take an even lower split from Peacock, but NBCU has declined to share any portion of the ad avails.

A source familiar with NBCU’s position said Roku has kept adding new provisions as stipulations for carrying Peacock and added the media conglomerate has been willing to make concessions on the ad-revenue front.