Roku pulled the YouTube TV app. Here's how to stream it with AirPlay, Android or Windows
You can't download the YouTube TV app to your Roku right now because of a contract dispute, but there's a workaround.
Eli BlumenthalSenior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise5G, mobile networks, wireless carriers, phones, tablets, streaming devices, streaming platforms, mobile and console gaming,
If you have a subscription to YouTube TV and a Roku streaming box, you've probably received emails detailing a dispute between the two companies. Roku says Google wants more user data, search-result manipulation and hardware requirements. YouTube calls the claims "baseless and false" and says it wants to "renew the YouTube TV deal under the existing reasonable terms."
For now, the main consequence of the dispute is that the YouTube TV app is unavailable on the Roku channel store. Roku owners can still use the YouTube TV app they have already, but if they delete it or get it a new Roku, they won't be able to re-download it. (Note that the dispute doesn't affect the free YouTube service, whose app remains on Roku, just YouTube TV, which is a separate live TV streaming service that costs $65 per month).
Thankfully for new subscribers and anyone else who wants to watch YouTube TV on Roku, there's a decent workaround. It's similar to what we recommended during a similar dispute between Roku and HBO Max.
The easiest option is to use Apple AirPlay, which requires an Apple iPhone, iPad or Mac, and a Roku streamer or TV. If you don't have an Apple device, you could also use Roku's built-in screen mirroring, which works with most Android phones and Windows PCs. Here's how.
Note that non-4K Roku TVs and streamers like the Roku Express will also be getting access to AirPlay. Roku's support page says "Devices running Roku OS 10.0 will receive AirPlay support in batches in the coming weeks." You can check compatible Roku devices here.
An iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch (running iOS 12.3 or later)
A Mac computer (running MacOS Mojave 10.14.5 or later)
If you don't have an Apple device and/or a compatible Roku, you can try Roku's screen mirroring function (see below).
To use AirPlay with Roku, the first step is to make sure your Roku is updated to the latest software and that your Apple device is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Roku.
After that, well, it's pretty simple.
Open up the YouTube TV app on your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch.
Tap the casting icon in the upper right and choose AirPlay and Bluetooth devices.
Under the "speakers and TVs" pop up select your Roku. You should see your iPhone mirrored on the Roku.
In the YouTube TV app, tap what you want to watch and it should play.
You can AirPlay from a Mac by going to System Preferences, then Displays to get the AirPlay option and click the box to show AirPlay in the menu bar. YouTube TV does not, however, have AirPlay built into its Chrome player for computers, so this is a little more complicated if you want to stream YouTube TV without broadcasting your whole computer
Click on the AirPlay icon in the menu bar, tap on your Roku.
Click on it again and choose "use as a separate display."
Open the YouTube TV app, drag it over to your TV and make it full screen.
In my experience on a recent Roku TV this worked pretty well, though you will need to switch channels with your Apple device. And because you are mirroring directly from the YouTube TV app and not the entire iPhone/iPad you won't have to worry about notifications or a call coming in and disrupting the stream or switching apps and doing other tasks. Mac users should set their computers to Do Not Disturb to ensure the least interruptions.
One other thing: You will want to keep your device on and connected to the same Wi-Fi network to make sure the stream doesn't cut out.
If you have an Android phone, you can cast from it using screen mirroring. Available on Rokus for years, this feature has been found on most Android phones for a while (with the exception of Google Pixels, which don't support it) and brings your phone's screen onto the TV. Most Roku TVs and streamers support the feature.
Enabling this feature, however, is a bit complicated, as different phone-makers have given it different names. Samsung, for example, calls it Smart View on its latest Galaxy phones, and it can often be accessed by pulling down on the notification shade.
Other names for the feature include:
Once you find the name, it's pretty easy to set up. To get it working on a Galaxy S21 Ultra I simply needed to make sure my device was on the same Wi-Fi network as the Roku, opened Smart View from the notification screen and tapped on my Roku TV in the list of devices. I then saw a prompt on my Roku, clicked allow, and I was good to go.
If you don't see the Roku in the screen mirror list and you're on the same Wi-Fi network, make sure screen mirroring is enabled. You can check this by going to Settings, System and then Screen Mirroring. Make sure "Screen mirroring mode" is set to "prompt" (the default setting) or always.
Note: Like AirPlay, this isn't the same as Chromecasting something to your TV. By mirroring, everything on your phone becomes visible which means notifications and text messages could appear and a call could disrupt the stream. Exiting the YouTube TV app on your phone will also cause the stream to minimize or close on the TV.
In short, you'll want to make sure "do not disturb" is turned on and be prepared to not look at your phone while watching.
How to watch using a Windows PC
You can also use Windows to screen mirror to your Roku. To access this on a PC, open the action center, which is the little chat bubble icon in the lower right. From there, tap on Connect, which should pull up available displays. Pick your Roku, and your Windows PC should now be visible on your Roku.
Another option is to tap the Windows button and search "project to a wireless display" into the search in the lower left. From there simply open up YouTube TV in Chrome, and you should be good to go.
I wasn't able to test this method myself, but my colleague David Katzmaier got it working on both a Roku Ultra and Roku TV with HBO Max back when Roku and WarnerMedia were having their spat. He reported some breakup and stuttering at times, as well as a slightly softer image, but the video was still watchable overall.
Until Google and Roku bury the hatchet, any of the methods above should allow you to watch without needing the actual YouTube TV app on Roku. And if AirPlay and screen mirroring seem like too much of a pain, it might be time for a new streamer that has the YouTube TV app, something like the excellent Chromecast with Google TV.