In what could amount to a major blow to the Super Bowl’s streaming audience numbers, Roku said it will pull Fox’s standalone apps from its platform on Jan. 31.
In an email notice sent to customers, Roku said standalone Fox channels (including the Fox and Fox Sports apps) will no longer be available on Roku streaming devices. The company advised users to continue watching Fox either through streaming TV services including FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV, or by checking to see if their Roku smart TV can receive Fox through an over-the-air antenna.
According to Ad Age, the apps are being taken down due to a streaming rights impasse between Fox and Roku. In a statement obtained by the publication, Roku seemingly blamed the app blackout on Fox.
“Roku’s distribution agreement with Fox Corp. is set to expire on Jan. 31,” said Roku. “We offered Fox an extension so that Roku can continue to bring a large and valuable audience to Fox. If an agreement is not reached, we will be forced to remove Fox channels from the Roku platform.”
Fox is planning to stream the Super Bowl in 4K for the first time this year, and was likely expecting a substantial streaming audience. However, losing distribution on Roku devices could cost the Super Bowl many would-be streamers. Last summer, Strategy Analytics reported that there are more than 41 million Roku-based devices in use, including Roku media streamers and Roku-based smart TVs, accounting for 15.2% of all media streaming devices.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Amazon announced last week that its Fire TV lineup had been named the preferred streaming devices for the Super Bowl.
Fox’s free streaming access of the Super Bowl is also available through the NFL’s app and website, Yahoo Sports’ app and website, and the mobile properties for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.