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Roku Leads U.S. Streaming Player Market: Report

Roku was the best-selling streaming media player in the U.S. in 2013, accounting for 46% of purchases in the category, well ahead of its closest competitor, the Apple TV, which represented 26%, according to a new report from Parks Associates.

According to the report -- The Evolving Market For Streaming Media Devices – Roku was also the most-used streaming media player in the U.S. Among U.S. homes with a streaming media player, 44% use a Roku player, versus 26% for the Apple TV.

"Multiple factors have allowed Roku to outpace Apple in U.S. sales and usage," said Barbara Kraus, director, research, Parks Associates, in a statement. "Roku has always had a close association with Netflix, the largest source of video downloads, and currently offers more than 1,700 channel apps as well as a choice of models with different features and price points, all of which appeal to consumers' purchasing instincts. With Amazon entering this CE category, there will be renewed pressure on all players to develop the best combination of 'can’t miss' content with a simple and intuitive interface. "

Despite a lack of committed support and promotion to the product, the Apple TV is still the global sales leader in the category, with sales of about 20 million units worldwide as of April 2014, Kraus added. Roku has shipped more than 8 million devices in the U.S., but has yet to release any international sales figures.

Another player to keep an eye on is Google, which already sells the popular Chromecast streaming adapter, and has lined up several CE manufacturing partners to support its new Android TV platform for set-tops, media players and connected TVs.

Parks Associates, citing its first quarter survey of 10,000 U.S. broadband households, noted the Chromecast sold as many units in six months as Roku sold in 2013, but added that usage of the adapter has steadily declined since its debut last summer.  

But the overall category is expected to remain strong. Parks Associates predicts that more than 25% of U.S. homes will have a streaming media player by 2015, and that global sales for those products will reach nearly 50 million by 2017.