Illustration by William Joel / The Verge
YouTube is returning to Amazon’s lineup of Fire TV products, and the Amazon Prime Video app will be adding Chromecast support and become more widely available on Android TV. Those two developments, jointly announced by both companies this morning, mark the end of a long-running standoff between Google and Amazon, a feud that has kept a native YouTube app off of the Fire TV platform for well over a year. Customers were really the ones who were disadvantaged as soon as these two tech giants entered into this spat, so to see that it’s over is very good news.
Google will bring YouTube back to Amazon’s Fire TV devices “later this year.” The flagship YouTube app will come first sometime within the next few months — there’s no firm launch date as of yet — and it will be followed by YouTube TV, the company’s subscription TV service, and the child-oriented YouTube Kids before the end of 2019. Fire TV will become fully certified for YouTube, signaling that it offers first-rate video quality and minimal buffering. YouTube for Fire TV will also support Alexa voice commands for searching and playing content.
Both sides got what they wanted, but what took so long?
In exchange, Amazon will be adding Chromecast integration to its own Prime Video mobile app, allowing users to more easily view their movies and shows on a TV screen if they own one of Google’s affordable Chromecast streaming dongles. Prime Video will also become universally available on Android TV; until now, it’s been limited to select devices running that operating system.
During its absence, Fire TV users were still able to access YouTube through web browsers, so it wasn’t completely unavailable. But a proper app will certainly make life easier for those customers.
Notably, this deal leaves out Amazon’s smart display, the Echo Show, so YouTube won’t be arriving on that device anytime soon. But a person familiar with the matter said that both companies continue to engage in ongoing conversation.
Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge
Google and Amazon would not comment on the specifics of their new agreement, nor would they specify how often they’ve tried to resolve things over the course of this stubborn feud. When YouTube was initially pulled off of Fire TV, there was a ton of finger pointing between the two companies.
Amazon claimed Google was hurting consumers and “selectively blocking customer access to an open website,” while Google voiced frustration with Amazon brushing off its Chromecast / Google Cast feature and leaving it out of the Prime Video app for Android for years. Google also took issue with the online retailer’s refusal to sell many of its products like Google Home, Chromecast, and Nest devices. Amazon resumed selling the Chromecast in December of last year, but that alone wasn’t enough for YouTube to relent. Finally getting on board with casting and broadly expanding Prime Video on Android TV seems to have done the trick.
The new agreement is strictly about streaming and doesn’t include any retail component, so Amazon hasn’t caved when it comes to selling Google Home (a direct competitor to its Echo speakers) or Nest’s more recent devices.
This has been a week of tech companies working out their differences. Apple and Qualcomm settled their contentious legal battle on Tuesday just as it headed to trial, and now we’ve got Amazon and YouTube finally reaching common ground.