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YouTube TV to quit Apple in-app payments in latest spurning of Apple system

Your YouTube TV subscription will be automatically canceled (and you lose your DVR) after March 13 if you pay through Apple.


YouTube TV, the live-channel streaming service from Google's video giant, is pulling out of Apple's in-app payment system as of March 13. It will make Google the latest tech giant to withdraw from the payment system built into iOS apps, as Apple's fees and other App Store policies have raised complaints that Apple's own services have a built-in competitive advantage. 

"YouTube TV no longer supports in-app purchases on iOS," a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday. "Apple continues to be an important partner for YouTube, and our users can still enjoy their favorite content across iOS devices."

YouTube TV's decision follows moves by both Netflix and Spotify, which years ago stopped accepting payments through iPhone or iPad apps. Apple has been facing intensifying scrutiny over how its App Store fees and policies treat services that compete with its own. The App Store is the biggest moneymaker in Apple's services business, but the fees and rules governing apps have grown thornier as Apple launches more subscription services like Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade

Last year, Spotify lodged a complaint with Europe's antitrust watchdog, saying Apple uses its App Store policies as a cudgel to stifle Spotify, the main competitor to Apple Music

YouTube TV's pullout is more drastic than Spotify's was. Spotify stopped letting new customers subscribe in iOS apps but it didn't cut off any existing accounts.

But YouTube TV, which has 2 million subscribers in the US, is going to automatically cancel each account paying through Apple on the first billing date after March 13. And unless the account re-enrolls with the same email address with Google billing, it will lose all settings, preferences and DVR recordings.

Generally speaking, Apple charges a 30% fee in the first year of a subscription for any memberships paid for via an iOS app. That fee drops to 15% after the first year. 

At $50 a month, YouTube TV is a pricey subscription to be forfeiting that fee. 

But adding a wrinkle to the development: Google's own Play Store also charges the same sort of fees on in-app payments made in Android apps, putting it in much the same position as Apple but in its own mobile-app ecosystem. 

YouTube TV doesn't directly compete with a current Apple service. But a Wall Street Journal report Friday said Google was in talks with news publishers about paying them to contribute content for a Google news product; that Google news product could be competitive with Apple News

Originally published Feb. 13. 
Update, Feb. 14: Adds more details of automatic cancellation, context. 

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