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Fox channels removed from Roku channel store in contract dispute - but now they're back!

January 31, 2020 - 23:07 -- RokuGuide

UPDATE (Jan 31, 2020, 11:00 pm ET): Roku has posted the following announcement on Facebook: "We are delighted that we reached an agreement with FOX to distribute FOX channels on the Roku platform. Roku customers can stream the Super Bowl through FOX Now, Fox Sports and NFL in addition to other ways."

Fox Sports on RokuIn a carriage dispute that is more common with pay TV services than it is with streaming devices, Roku, Inc. removed seven standalone Fox channels from their channel store just two days before the Fox broadcast of Super Bowl LIV.

Giving users just one day's notice before removal of the apps, Roku said in an email that "[o]n January 31, 2020, all standalone FOX channels will no longer be available on Roku streaming devices," and closing with Roku's trademarked "Happy Streaming" slogan. In a community forum post, Roku added that "[o]ur distribution contract with FOX Corp is set to expire on Jan. 31 so FOX channels were removed from the Roku Channel Store and will soon be removed from the Roku platform. Our discussions with FOX continue and we hope to reach an agreement soon. Let FOX Corp know you want FOX on your Roku device!"

Seven Fox standalone channels have been removed from the Roku channel store, but these channels were still available on Roku devices as of the morning of January 31, and could still be found when searching for them through the channel store on Roku devices, although they required you to install them as private channels. As of this afternoon the Fox channels have also been removed from the device-based channel store. But you can still add them as private channels.

For its part, Fox has not remained quiet and is pointing the finger at Roku. In a statement reported by Broadcasting & Cable, a Fox spokesperson said that "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... 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."

Angry Roku users are sounding off on Roku's community forum and on Twitter. Twitter user Jesse Dunn says "Thanks #Roku for removing the only way to watch #SuperBowl LIV in 4K by disabling all the 'standalone' Fox channels just 3 days before the big game. There goes my Super Bowl party enjoying the 4K greatness. I won't forget this. Time to replace all 5 Rokus with FireTV." Community forum user charged1226 says "I thought i was dealing with adults (Roku). Apparently this company is being run buy a 9th grade study hall group of back bitting teenagers," while sreyland says "Just in time. My Roku stuff was getting old and now it goes in the trash never to be replaced. Don't mess with our sports channels."

Jan. 31, 2020/1:10 PM - This article was updated to reflect the removal of Fox channels from the channel store on Roku devices so that they no longer redirect to private channels, and to add links and codes for installing the private channels through the Roku website.