Which Company’s Device Rules Television Streaming?

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

Roku is the king of streaming media set-top boxes. Among those little boxes that enable streaming of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Hulu, and other services on a television, about 44 percent of those were Roku brand devices.

The news of the Roku’s dominance comes at the expense of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV, Apple’s streaming service and a distant second with 26 percent of users. Park Associates, the research firm behind these numbers, predicts that Apple will remain in second place.

“Multiple factors have allowed Roku to outpace Apple in U.S. sales and usage,” said Barbara Kraus, director of research, Parks Associates in a press release. “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.”

The association with Netflix is certainly useful as Netflix is the dominant television streaming service, due in part to its branding and also for its high-profile content like Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards. It is on the Roku, Apple TV, and Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Chromecast. It’s on laptops, netbooks, and tablets. It’s even on gaming consoles like the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U. For devices that enable streaming on televisions, this means competition is incredibly varied. Why buy a streaming device when other devices enable streaming?

The reason is that these little set-top boxes make it easy to stream on a television. For those who own neither, a set-top box is a cheaper investment than a gaming console. The box looks a little like cable or satellite box, helping ease these customers into using the services. Very few of these services carry Netflix programming in the United States after all. This, and other reasons, is why it’s projected that 25 percent of American households will have a streaming media box by 2015.

Parks Associates expects this trend to continue — especially with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) entering the playing field. The research firm predicts that Amazon will become a big player in that field. (Amazon seems to agree based on its promotion of both services on its website.) Amazon will be a company that will shake things up since it has both Amazon Prime streaming service and Amazon Fire TV. This combination means that Apple is approaching streaming on two fronts, competing with Netflix and Hulu on one front and Roku and Apple TV on the other. For competitors, this will be incentive to step up their offerings to prevent customers from jumping ship.

Considering that Netflix and its competitors are only getting more popular with time, it’s no surprise that the devices that enable streaming them on the living room television are becoming more popular too.

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