In eleventh-hour fashion, Roku announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with Google on a new multi-year extension to an agreement to keep the main YouTube app and (restored) YouTube TV live streaming service available for new Roku device owners in the Roku Channel Store.

The agreement extension was announced just a day before the previous agreement for YouTube carriage was to expire. Roku’s agreement for the YouTube TV live streaming app expired last April, forcing its removal from the Roku store, but pre-existing Roku users could continue to view the subscription service through an addition by Google to the regular YouTube app.

Under the new agreement the YouTube Live app will return to the Roku Channel Store along with the main YouTube app.

Heading toward the Thursday deadline, it appeared the main YouTube app was also destined to disappear from the channel store, although Google assured pre-existing account holders that the previously downloaded YouTube app would continue to work after the deal expired.

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Neither party would disclose specific terms of the new agreement, although Google was reportedly insisting that Roku support various features that other platform partners weren’t required to support.

In a terse statement Wednesday, Roku said: “Roku and Google have agreed to a multi-year extension for both YouTube and YouTube TV. This agreement represents a positive development for our shared customers, making both YouTube and YouTube TV available for all streamers on the Roku platform.”

A Roku spokesperson could not comment further at this time.

The announcement sent Roku’s stock price climbing nearly 20% after a steady decline in recent weeks.

For a while, the chances the two companies would reach an agreement seemed bleak. Roku had earlier complained that Google was unreasonably mandating it implement special search, voice and data features for YouTube. Roku has previously said it wasn’t receiving any revenue from the YouTube services.

Google was also reportedly requiring Roku devices to support the new AV1 codec to which the streaming service had begun to transition certain files. However, the royalty free codec also requires more powerful processing than most legacy Roku devices typically have.

Roku had previously started to implement AV1 support in certain models of its step-up streaming adapters, however.

This and other requirements were potentially at odds with Roku’s business model centered around offering affordable devices and a robust selection of streaming media devices.

Stay tuned for further updates.

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By Greg Tarr

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