Is DIRECTV losing YouTube support?

The following message is making the rounds at several support forums:

YouTube Application No Longer Available via DIRECTV

April 20, 2015

Due to changes in third party software, the YouTube application will no longer be available in the DIRECTV Menu.

This change will occur in multiple phases, beginning with onscreen messaging to customers on Monday, April 20. At that time, customers will still be able to search and view YouTube content, but before their selected video plays, they will see the following message:

YouTube is upgrading to a newer version, which is not supported by this device or app. To learn more and see how you can watch YouTube, visit youtube.com/devicesupport.

Following a reasonable notification period, DIRECTV will remove the YouTube icon from the Menu (MENU > Extras), and Smart Search results will no longer include YouTube content. This change will apply to all DIRECTV receivers and clients, as well as Sony, Toshiba and LG DIRECTV Ready TVs that are installed as RVU clients.

Samsung DIRECTV Ready TVs installed as RVU clients are NOT impacted, as YouTube is accessed through a native Samsung app on the television.

We will share the date for removal of the YouTube icon when confirmed.

This supposedly comes from a confidential internal communication and is attributable to DIRECTV. First of all let me say that my sources suggest that this is true and accurate but there has been no public statement from DIRECTV on the subject.

If you have been enjoying YouTube content on DIRECTV, the answer is easy; just pick up a streaming stick or other media player, hopefully from SolidSignal.comAdding this functionality to your home theater is really not hard. It’s been nice having it integated with the DIRECTV products but it hasn’t been mandatory.

This fits what DIRECTV’s overall strategy of moving away from being a central media hub. Its media sharing app never did really work and the removal of YouTube leaves only Pandora as an external link to non-DIRECTV content. This makes sense because DIRECTV has a large amount of its own content, and because people increasingly use mobile devices rather than large TVs to view this kind of stuff. DISH seems to be doubling down on external sites, having added both Netflix and Vevo to supplement its smaller on-demand library.

The overall feeling here is that DIRECTV realizes that it’s one part of your overall entertainment experience and it’s not going to be able to compete with mobile devices that boast tons more computing power. Personally, I thought DIRECTV’s YouTube integration was passable but it seemed more often than not to deliver lower-resolution content and was very likely to present it in the wrong aspect ratio. I won’t miss DIRECTV’s YouTube app because for the most part I used other equipment for that purpose.

It’s worth noting that although the message from DIRECTV says that DIRECTV Ready TVs will not be affected, it’s possible that 2011-model TVs may eventually see this same notice. Nothing is clear until there’s been an official word from the manufacturers.