It looks like NBC Channels could be soon be pulled from Roku, due to negotiations between Roku and NBCUniversal's Peacock streaming service taking a bad turn. Reports are coming in that Comcast (owner of NBCUniversal) has given Roku a deadline for the forced removal of NBCU's TV Everywhere channel lineup from Roku's platform. That includes the main NBC app and about 46 other NBCU-related apps, all of which are now on the chopping block. Roku users could lose access to NBCU content as early as this weekend; Roku has already begun alerting its customers about the impending change in service:
“This is deeply disappointing and the wrong way to treat subscribers," the email states. "Many of whom are Comcast customers, who pay to access these channels via their cable TV subscriptions and now will no longer be able to view these TV Everywhere channels on Roku, their platform of choice."
Roku has also released a public statement regarding the dispute with Comcast-NBCU, which you can read below (via Variety):
"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."
NBCU has released a statement of its own, which not surprisingly puts the blame back in Roku's court:
"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."
The Streaming Wars of 2020 have had the unexpected hiccup of making some big trouble for "all in one" streaming platforms like Roku or Amazon's Firestick. As more studios reclaim their content for their respective streaming services, negotiations seem to be increasingly volatile when it comes to agreement on the terms of how Roku or Fire fit into the profit structure. HBO Max and Peacock both launched in 2020 (in May and July, respectively). HBO Max is one of the most expensive streaming services ($14.99/mo), and Peacock is (as stated) a free one; and yet, neither service has been able to work out a deal with Roku, or Amazon Fire. So far, the impact has seemed to hit the studio's worse than streaming device providers, as HBO Max has struggled to find the sort of subscriber base WarnerMedia wanted, with limited distribution (i.e., not on Roku or Firestick) being the most common criticism.
Peacock seems to be faring a bit better (15 million subs since its July launch), since it offers is free base tier of service, as well as offering the ad-supported expanded content of the Premium tier of service to Comcast Xfinity cable users.
NOTE: There will be ways for Roku users to still get NBCU content, event without the apps: NBCU content will still be accessbile through Xfinity and AT&T apps on Roku, as well as Live TV providers like Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube TV and others.