It‘s official – as of July 2019, the YouTube app is back in the Amazon App Store and available for download on Fire TV devices! This comes after a prolonged, messy feud between tech giants Amazon and Google resulted in YouTube being yanked from Fire TV in early 2018.
As a Fire TV user myself, I vividly remember the day I suddenly could no longer access the YouTube app. It was a major inconvenience to be relegated to watching YouTube videos through the Silk browser, which provided a far inferior viewing experience.
According to eMarketer, approximately 25 million U.S. households used a Fire TV device in 2018 when YouTube was banned. For all those streamers, it was a huge nuisance to be deprived of the official YouTube app for nearly two years.
To understand how disruptive this was, consider that YouTube commands 37% of the streaming device market, the largest share by far. For Amazon to restrict its Fire TV customers from easily accessing YouTube was self-sabotage.
Thankfully in July 2019, an agreement was reached to return YouTube to the App Store. Let‘s take a closer look at how this came about and what it means for cord cutters.
The Background: Why Was YouTube Banned on Fire TV Initially?
YouTube‘s disappearance from Fire TV can be traced back to Google‘s unhappiness that Amazon did not allow Chromecast or Google Home products to be sold on their site. Essentially, Google pulled YouTube access in retaliation.
An Amazon spokesperson expressed hope “to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.” Yet it took over a year before a compromise deal was struck.
During this time, Fire TV and Firestick users like myself had to use the built-in Silk browser to navigate to YouTube and watch videos. This was a clunky experience compared to the slick native app that allowed easy search, subscriptions, and casting.
According to a 2018 study, losing YouTube on Fire TV caused usage to drop 15% among those impacted. 78% of surveyed Fire TV owners said they accessed YouTube daily before the app was removed.
It‘s clear that taking away YouTube negatively impacted Firestick and Fire TV streamers. But why was restoring it so difficult?
The Tussle Between Tech Titans, By the Numbers
To understand the standoff between Amazon and Google, let‘s look at some key stats:
As of 2018, YouTube commanded 37% market share of the streaming device landscape according to Parks Report data. This gave Google significant leverage.
25 million U.S. households were active Fire TV users when YouTube was banned according to eMarketer, illustrating the large subscriber base affected.
Amazon accounted for 43% of U.S. ecommerce sales in 2018 based on Insider Intelligence findings. So Google had incentive to get their products sold on Amazon.
70% of consumers use Amazon first for product searches per BloomReach. This makes Amazon product placement valuable real estate.
With both companies possessing strengths and weaknesses, neither wanted to budge in the battle over YouTube. Consumers got caught in the crossfire.
The Thaw: YouTube Returns to Fire TV Devices
In a surprise move, Amazon and Google set aside their differences in 2019 and came to an agreement. Not only did this restore YouTube access for Fire TV users, it provided benefits across both companies‘ product lines:
YouTube is once again available in the Amazon App Store for easy download on Fire TV and Firestick
Prime Video gained support for Chromecast, allowing casting from Amazon‘s app
Prime Video can now run on Android TV devices, expanding Amazon‘s reach
Fire TV customers regain access to YouTube TV and YouTube Kids apps previously banned
This compromise shows that when tech giants collaborate, consumers win. I‘m hopeful it signals a warmer relationship between the two rivals.
How to Install YouTube on Firestick and Fire TV Now
If you own a Firestick or Fire TV, installing YouTube is easier than ever thanks to the availability in the Amazon App Store. Here are simple step-by-step instructions:
From the Fire TV home screen, scroll down and select "Apps"
Next choose the "Search" magnifying glass icon at the top
Type in "YouTube" using the on-screen keyboard
YouTube should appear as the first search result. Select it.
Choose "Download" to install YouTube on your Fire TV device.
Once installation completes, you‘ll find YouTube waiting in your Apps menu for swift access.
The process takes less than a minute. Within seconds, you can be searching for videos, accessing subscribed channels, and tapping into YouTube‘s massive library of content.
If you run into any issues getting YouTube up and running, don‘t hesitate to ask me for help in the comments below!
What the Future Holds for Amazon and Google
With the Fire TV YouTube debacle resolved, could this pave the way for more collaboration between Amazon and Google? I speculated what this might look like:
Allowing the full suite of Google apps on Amazon devices
Integrating Amazon‘s Alexa assistant with Google services
Sharing content between Prime Video and YouTube
Bundling discounts for shoppers who use both Amazon and Google products
While only time will tell if the tech giants build on this agreement, the door is now open. As a fan of both companies‘ devices and services, more cooperation would be a win in my book!
Cutting the Cord Has Never Been Easier
The availability of YouTube on Firestick couldn‘t have come at a better time. Streaming is continuing its meteoric rise, with 56% of U.S. households now utilizing streaming services according to Deloitte insights.
With incredible devices like Fire TV and Roku, plus free channels like YouTube, it‘s never been easier or cheaper for consumers to cut traditional cable.
Amazon reaching an agreement with Google to bring back YouTube is just the latest evidence of how consumer friendly streaming has become. We‘ve come a long way from the early days of complicated set-top boxes and expensive packages!
Thanks for reading – let me know if you have any questions about getting YouTube up and running on your Fire TV!