- Downloads of YouTube TV have been blocked on Roku devices as of Friday morning.
- Google, YouTube’s parent company, is currently at odds with Roku over contract renegotiations to host its subscription streaming app on Roku’s platform.
- Roku alleges that Google is pressuring it to agree to “anti-competitive” demands that would result in the preferential treatment of YouTube and YouTube TV.
- Users who previously downloaded the YouTube TV app currently remain unaffected, and all Roku users can still download YouTube’s regular app.
YouTube TV Pulled from Roku
Roku warned its users on Monday that they may soon see YouTube TV forced off the platform. Now, it’s officially happened.
According to a statement from Roku at the beginning of this week, Google — YouTube’s parent company — has demanded that the streaming player cave to several “anti-competitive requirements.” That purportedly includes the preferential treatment of YouTube and YouTube TV.
The fight came to a head Friday as Roku’s contract allowing it to host YouTube TV expired amid the stalemate.
Roku users who had previously downloaded YouTube TV aren’t out of luck: they’ll still be able to use the app for the time being; however, users without the app won’t be able to download it unless some sort of agreement is reached. For now, the regular YouTube app is completely unaffected.
What Are Google’s Demands?
Roku has alleged that Google wants it to create a dedicated search results row for YouTube, as well as give the video platform more prominent placement in general search results.
According to Roku, Google’s demands also include blocking search results from other streaming companies while users are in the YouTube app, as well as favoring YoutTube music results from voice commands while the YouTube app is open — even if the user’s music preference is set to default to a different app.
Roku even said Google has threatened to require the company to use specific chip sets or memory cards that would force it to increase the price of its hardware product, which competes directly with Google’s Chromecast.
Meanwhile, Roku contends that it simply wants to renew its contract for YouTube TV, adding, “It’s not about money. We are not asking for any more money, not a single dollar more in value.”
“While we are deeply disappointed in Google’s decision to use their monopoly power to try and force terms that will directly harm streamers,” Roku said Monday. “We remain committed to reaching an agreement with Google that preserves your access to YouTube TV, protects your data and ensures a level playing field for companies to compete.”
YouTube itself has refuted Roku’s claims as “baseless,” alleging that it has not made any “requests to access user data or interfere with search results.” According to Business Insider, a Google spokesperson claimed, “Roku often engages in these types of tactics in their negotiations.”
Still, these reported demands have come as the Justice Department, state attorneys general, and Congress each investigate the tech giant’s broader alleged antitrust activity. As Axios noted, this is also one of the “first big carriage disputes around anti-competitive behavior in the streaming era.”
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Axios)
Frito-Lay Workers End Nearly Three-Week Strike After Securing Higher Wages and a Guaranteed Day Off
Employees also negotiated an end to “suicide shifts,” which are two 12-hour shifts that are only eight hours apart.
Hundreds of Frito-Lay workers in Kansas have put an end to their nearly three-week strike over alleged mandatory overtime assignments that resulted in extremely long work weeks and so-called “suicide shifts.”
The term “suicide shift” refers to working two 12-hour shifts with only eight hours of rest in between. That can be especially hard on employees who claim to have worked up to 84 hours in a single week. For context, that’s 12 hours a day without a single day off.
One of the reasons workers have found themselves taking on more hours and days at plants is because consumer snacking has increased during the pandemic — so much so that Frito Lay’s recent net growth has exceeded every single one of its targets. That’s why at one point, the striking workers asked consumers to boycott Frito-Lay products in a show of solidarity.
The strikes began July 5 and concluded on July 23 following an agreement reached by union leaders and PepsiCo., Frito-Lay’s parent company. Under that deal, all employees will see a 4% wage increase over the next two years. They’ll also be guaranteed at least one day off a week, and the company will no longer schedule workers with only eight hours off between shifts.
Following the agreement, Anthony Shelton, the president of the union representing the workers, said that they’ve “shown the world that union working people can stand up against the largest food companies in the world and claim victory for themselves, their families and their communities.”
“We believe our approach to resolving this strike demonstrates how we listen to our employees, and when concerns are raised, they are taken seriously and addressed,” Frito-Lay said in a statement. “Looking ahead, we look forward to continuing to build on what we have accomplished together based on mutual trust and respect.”
The Long, Bitter Road to an Agreement
When the workers went on strike, they lobbed several very disturbing accusations against Frito-Lay.
In fact, the workers were pushed so hard that according to one employee who wrote in the Topeka Capital-Journal, “When a co-worker collapsed and died, you had us move the body and put in another co-worker to keep the line going.”
While Frito-Lay dismissed this account as “entirely false,” other employees continued to protest conditions in the plants. Many even argued the 90-degree temperatures they had to stand in to protest outside were preferable to the 100-degree-plus temperatures and smokey conditions in the factories.
During the strikes, PepsiCo. actively disputed that its employees are overworked, describing their claims as “grossly exaggerated” and saying, “Our records indicate 19 employees worked 84 hours in a given work week in 2021, with 16 of those as a result of employees volunteering for overtime and only 3 being required to work.”
It also said an initial concession more than met the striking employees’ terms, but the union backing those workers disagreed, and further negotiations were held until the final deal was reached.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (Business Insider)
Friendship Is on the Decline in America Compared to 30 Years Ago
While the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for increased isolation Americans have experienced over the past year, other factors for the drop in friendships include political differences, couples marrying later, and parents spending more time with kids.
Americans Have Fewer Friends Today
A new study released by the Survey Center on American Life has essentially found that friends are in short supply in America — or rather, that “despite renewed interest in the topic of friendship in popular culture and the news media, signs suggest that the role of friends in American social life is experiencing a pronounced decline.”
Out of more than 2,019 respondents made up of U.S. adults, only 13% said they had more than 10 close friends. That’s a big drop compared to a 1990 Gallup poll, which reported that a third of U.S. adults said they had more than 10 close friends.
The poll also found that fewer Americans now say they have a “best” friend: 59% today compared to 75% in 1990.
Friendship Breakers: the Pandemic, Politics, and Work
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has very likely been the most direct cause of isolation over the past year.
As the poll also notes, women ages 18-29 appear to be the most affected demographic, with 43% having lost touch with at least a few friends and 16% indicating that they’re no longer in regular contact with most of their friends.
In addition to the pandemic, former President Donald Trump seems to be driving more broken friendships than perhaps most presidents. In fact, 22% of the respondents who said they ended a friendship cited Trump specifically.
According to the poll, 20% of Democrats and 10% of Republicans have ended friendships over political disagreements, with 28% of political liberals saying they would end a friendship over political differences as opposed to 10% of conservatives.
Other factors for Americans’ lost friendships include couples marrying later, parents spending more time with kids, as well as people working longer hours and being more geographically mobile.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. While “best friends” are in shorter supply than in 1990, more than half of U.S. adults still say they have one. Another 46% of Americans have also reported making at least one new friend over the last year.
See what others are saying: (Insider) (Independent) (Axios)
NFL Says Teams Could Be Forced To Forfeit Games If Unvaccinated Players Cause COVID-19 Outbreaks
Neither team will be paid for any forfeited games, and the team that faces the outbreak must also cover all expenses for the opposing team.
NFL Issues Strong Warning to the Unvaccinated
The National Football League announced Thursday that if a game is canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players on a certain team, that team will be forced to forfeit the match.
Additionally, the league said players on both teams will not be paid for any forfeited games, and the team that causes the game to be canceled will also be forced to cover all expenses for the opposing team. It could also face disciplinary action from the Commissioner’s Office.
As NFL.com writer Kevin Patra noted, this is “the clearest line the NFL has drawn to date and the most substantial incentive yet for owners, teams and coaches to pressure players to get vaccinated.”
While the league has not mandated that its players and staff get vaccinated, in its Thursday memo, it said that “nearly all clubs have vaccinated 100 percent of their Tier 1 and 2 staffs.” It also noted that 75% of players “are in the process of being vaccinated, and more than half the clubs have vaccination rates greater than 80 percent of their players.”
The NFL added that vaccinated players or staff who test positive and are asymptomatic will be allowed to return to work following two negative tests 24 hours apart. For unvaccinated players and staff who test positive, the NFL is deferring to its 2020 rules: 10-day isolation.
Rescheduling Vs. Canceling
Unvaccinated players — regardless of whether they test positive or not — will also be subject to more stringent protocols, including daily testing, mask-wearing, and travel restrictions.
That said, there is one potential loophole for teams that find themselves subject to outbreaks, though it could still be a longshot. The NFL will allow games to be rescheduled as long as they fit within the timeframe of its regular season.
“We do not anticipate adding a ‘19th week’ to accommodate games that cannot be rescheduled within the current 18 weeks of the regular season,” the NFL made clear in its memo.
Still, the NFL may not be as flexible as it was during 2020. For example, while it was able to reschedule all of its postponed games during that season, it did so by moving some to Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
What Players Are Saying
Currently-unvaccinated players were quick to speak out against the memo on Thursday.
“Never thought I would say this, But being put in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the @NFL,” Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said in a now-deleted tweet.
Those advocating for players to get vaccinated have argued that not vaccinating yourself while engaging in a high-contact sport could still result in hurting teammates. In fact, several athletes have reported lingering effects following COVID-19 diagnoses, and some worry that long-term lung issues could cut their careers short.
Similar to Hopkins, Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle DJ Reader tweeted, “Talk about getting your hand forced smh.”
Las Vegas Raiders running back even compared this year’s season to “playing in jail” in a now-deleted tweet, saying, “read the rules-know em like you know your plays.”
Meanwhile, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said he hopes his team is “headed toward 100%” vaccination following the memo.