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Streaming Player Market Stays Hot: Study

Nearly one-fifth (19%) of TV viewers now own at least one digital media players from three major suppliers – Roku, Google (the Chromecast adapter) and Apple (the Apple TV), filling a market need for TV-connected streaming devices that are less bulky than gaming consoles or Blu-ray players, GfK found in a new study.

According to an executive summary of the report, Digital Media Players 2014, Roku had a 6% share of the market, versus 5% for the Chromecast, and 4% for the Apple TV. The survey, conducted from late September to early October 2014, also factored in lesser-known -brands as well as recently launched products such as the Amazon Fire TV. Amazon began to ship its new Fire TV Stick last month, calling it the fastest-selling Amazon device ever.

On a broader level, the number of homes streaming content to their TV sets has jumped from 8% in 2010, to 37% in 2014, GfK said.

While the Chromecast was able to increase its share to 5% in less than a year, it also has more inactive users (16%), versus 10% of Roku homes and just 6% of Apple TV homes, according to the study. “Most inactive devices were substituted with another means of streaming,” said GfK.

The diversity of apps and content is one way competitors are trying to differentiate themselves in a crowded market, David Tice, senior vice president at GfK, said. “Price isn’t a huge issue,” he added. “Consumers are figuring out what content is available and what isn’t."

Google has been trying to close that content gap for the Chromecast. Last week, for example, Chromecast extended support for a batch of apps, including EPIX, Encore Play, Comedy Central, Sesame Street Go, Nickelodeon, TuneIn and YuppTV.

The report also found that 43% to 50% (the percentage varies by device brand) of digital media player owners said that they use the devices in addition to their regular TV viewing. That’s larger than the proportions (31% to 42%) that use the devices to substitute for traditional TV.

GfK’s survey also found that Chromecast owners are most likely to report that their digital player supplements, rather than replaces, broadcast TV. However, roughly one third (38% to 29%) of digital media player users said they have reduced or eliminated their pay-TV service due to their usage of the devices, with Roku owners as the most likely to report “cord slicing” or “cord cutting.”

GfK based its findings on interviews of 532 people who reported owning a Roku (265), an Apple TV (215) and a Chromecast (143), from the firm’s KnowledgePanel, which, it said, is representative of about 97% of U.S. households.