YouTube Legacy Accounts w/ Roku TV

Signing into your YouTube Account on your Roku TV seems straightforward at first glance and/or how the setup prompts instruct you to set this up. However, what if your YouTube Account is a “Legacy Account?” A legacy YouTube Account is a YouTube Account created before Google absorbed YouTube in May of 2009. After this Google required new YouTube signups / user accounts to have a Google Account / Gmail Email address.

Before May of ’09 you would use a User Name and Password to login. Not necessarily an email address. Your user name could be the whole email address, but YouTube didn’t require that as a username as most systems are setup today. Some still use a username over the actual email address, but it is becoming rarer by the year.

So, how this all came to fruition… My YouTube Account is roughly from mid-2006. So it is considered a Legacy Account. I also have all the legacy settings or at least as much of the old system that is left over after May of 2009. This is my main YouTube Account, has been since the beginning. If I try the standard setup for YouTube on my Roku it asks a few things, but the easy way is to use your phone and let your phone sync with the TV using the same wi/fi connection.

That does work, but it doesn’t sign me into my actual YouTube Account. It signs me into my Google Account which has a YouTube Account defaulted to the Google Account. So if I sign in like this I am signed in under my name and the associated email address. This is not my actual YouTube account.

After May 2009 Google required new users to have a Google Account or they could not have a YouTube Account. So if you have neither, one would sign up with Google and by default, you would have a YouTube Account.

It’s been so many years, but I am not sure how I was able to associate my actual YouTube Account to my actual Google Account. I do remember a feature where I could sign in via a user name and not the email address. Back then I had a yahoo.com email address. After I created a Gmail address in 2004 I started swapping stuff over. When Google purchased/absorbed YouTube you were allowed to associate these older accounts over to your Google Profile.

Back to syncing your YouTube to your Roku TV with your phone, it logs me in via my Google Account and not my actual YouTube Account. The account is the default one from Google, which is pretty much blank. They did port over “some” of your subscribers but it was sort of messy and I wasn’t about to migrate 3 or 4 years of content and activity, so I kept them separate.

When I noticed I couldn’t get my “watch later” and “my videos” ported over. Also, I had no playlists; I noticed it was the wrong account and started trying to find workarounds.

Google actually wasn’t much help with this. They do give you the correct answer, but it doesn’t specify for legacy accounts. It’s just an alternative way to sign in and sync accounts. After trying all sorts of synching/paring/setting changes I just about gave up when I decided to try the final and most complicated way the system was offering.

Get rid of all those easy sync options and just login using a web browser on your phone or computer. You just have to make sure they are all on the same SSID Network, wi/fi network. When you do it that way. It gives you 2 options to sign in from. First, the Roku TV tells me to go to YouTube.com/activate, and then I have to put in a code from the TV into the web portal. It then gives me a few choices of email accounts to choose from, as I have multiple email addresses for multiple different accounts that I use for myself and clients.

Once I choose the correct email address it gives me a 2nd option as to what account I want to use. This was the only place where I could find my YouTube Legacy Account. The other methods did not give me this choice, only this one. Once I pick that, the TV signs into my account.

At this point, all my YouTube Videos, Watch Later, Playlists, Favorites, History were all there like they should be. So now, if I YouTube from my phone, laptop, computer; all my activity shows up on my YouTube App on my Roku TV. That is exactly how it is supposed to work. 

This was sort of a pain in the ass, but I only had to do this, because I kept my legacy account active as my main account all these years. If back in 2009 I would have done the merger/port of my YouTube this would have been much easier, but now that I know that is how I have to set these things up it is easy.

The reason why I am writing this blog about it is because, I had some trouble finding the solution on both Google Searches, Google Tips, and YouTube directly.  If someone reads this and has a Legacy Account and are not ultra-computer savoy this could be something that will be helpful to people.

Also, I wanted to blog again, which I have not done since NYE ‘20. Since I have been actively doing things of the technical nature, why not write a technical blog about it. I hope this helps.

YouTube Legacy Accounts w/ Roku TV…
by David-Angelo Mineo
4/23/2021
936 Words