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    US Justice Department urged to investigate Google for Youtube’s anticompetitive behaviour

    A group of competition watchdogs have written a letter to the US  Department of Justice urging it to investigate Youtube’s alleged anti-competitive behaviour and its contribution to Google’s alleged monopoly. They accused Google of currently eyeing dominance in the home entertainment sector, through Google’s Connected TV brand GoogleTV and YouTube’s streaming service YoutubeTV.

    Thus, the letter appealed to the Department of Justice to include YouTube in its ongoing investigations against Google’s alleged anti-competitive behaviour in the space of ad-tech and online search and called YouTube “the third leg of the stool that supports Google’s monopoly”

    YouTube’s dominance in the market

    The letter noted that according to parent company Alphabet’s most recent quarterly earnings report, YouTube accounts for roughly 10% of Alphabet’s overall revenue and generated over $8 billion in quarterly revenue. They accused Youtube of becoming a core contributor to reinforcing “Google’s ad tech monopoly” by generating revenues of more than $20 billion a year, with 16% year-on-year YouTube ad revenue.

    They also noted that according to Neilsen, YouTube TV, Youtube’s streaming service, is currently the fourth largest paid TV service in America and accounts for 9.7% of all TV viewership in the United States, a record-high share for a streaming service.

    They also claimed that YouTube has risen from third position in 2021 to become the top app for podcasts ahead of both Spotify and Apple Podcasts in 2023 with the only weekly watchers podcast growing by 14%. It was further highlighted how more people are watching podcasts now as the number increased from 8% to 10% in the last 3 podcast download report.

    Does YouTube intend to maintain a monopoly?

    The letter claimed that YouTube’s ambitions seem to be in the realm of television. They quote YouTube’s CEO Neal Mohan saying in a blog from February that “YouTube’s next frontier is the living room and subscriptions.” The letter claimed that this is particularly worrying as YouTube has “a decade-long record of using its dominance across numerous markets to crowd out competitors, lock in customers, and force the purchase of bundled services.”

    They cited YouTube app being loaded on smartphones automatically, as an example. They claimed that with ConnectedTV, Google is already trying to dominate the market, saying, “Connected TV makes YouTube impossible to avoid; no matter what TV operating system you choose, it’s right there in front of you.” They further accused GoogleTV of being even more strongly linked with YouTube. They noted that GoogleTV gives users YouTube recommendations for videos, music and other programmes based on a user’s YouTube viewing history. The letter said, “As Google reaps the rewards of this integration, it will only reinforce YouTube’s lock on audiences and make it harder for other companies to compete for viewers”

    They also accused Google of copying products offered by other services. An apt example is Google’s multi-channel network model allegedly copied from the now defunct company Machinima, wherein content creators with similar content join a network to expose themselves to a wider audience and boost their revenue.

    Further, the letter also accused YouTube of forcing Advertisers to exclusively use Google’s ad services and locking advertisers out of using external ad exchanges.

    The letter warned the DOJ, that YouTube’s dominance in the market will inevitably lead to other companies being forced to provide YouTube-centric features resulting in a race to the bottom for consumers and a blow to fair competition. They claimed that Google will aim to “dominate the entire home entertainment sector in the same way that Apple’s AirPlay dominates in-car information systems.”

    The EU’s actions against Youtube

    The letter stated that YouTube’s attempt to clamp down on ad blockers without a user’s consent is a violation of existing privacy regulations. They noted that YouTube’s past efforts are being challenged in the EU under the Article 5.3 of the ePrivacy Directive which requires websites to ask for user consent before storing or accessing information on a user’s device. The case is still underway.

    It also noted that the EU’s Digital Markets Act, classified YouTube as “core platform service”, and imposed stringent anti-competitive restrictions on the company. The letter stated “Americans deserve the same kinds of protections, and we encourage you to make YouTube investigation a priority over the coming year.”

    Also Read:

    The post US Justice Department urged to investigate Google for Youtube’s anticompetitive behaviour appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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