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Apple TV Struggling Behind Roku in the OTT Wars

TMCnet Feature

July 11, 2014

Apple TV Struggling Behind Roku in the OTT Wars

By Tara Seals
TMCnet Contributor

More than 25% of US households will have a streaming media player by 2015, with continued robust sales and new entries such as Amazon Fire TV driving expansion of this connected CE category. But for now, market first movers Roku and Apple TV continue to dominate sales.

That’s the word from Parks Associates (News - Alert), whose new report, The Evolving Market for Streaming Media Devices, found that Roku accounted for nearly one-half of streaming media players (46%) purchased in the US in 2013, while Apple (News - Alert), its closest competitor, had 26%. The gap between Roku and Apple has widened since 2013, when 37% of streaming media player owners used Roku and 24% used Apple TV.

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

That said, Google’s (News - Alert) $35 HDMI streaming stick, Chromecast, has been going head-to-head with Roku in streaming race, with Apple TV threatening to fall behind. And according to Parks Associate’s first-quarter survey of 10,000 U.S. broadband households, Google Chromecast sold as many units in six months as Roku sold in 2013—though the firm noted that demand has tapered off.

The percentage of Chromecast owners who use the device at least monthly to view Web pages on a TV declined from 76 percent in Q3 2013 to 57 percent in Q1 2014, Parks said. Similarly, the percentage of Chromecast owners who use the device at least monthly to watch online video on a TV dropped from 78 percent to 73 percent.

As global sales for streaming media players reach nearly 50 million by 2017, broadband household penetration in the U.S. will exceed 38%. That translated to a lot of opportunity, which is driving an increasingly competitive market, including new entrants like Amazon Fire TV.

“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,” Kraus said.

With a competitive death-match in the offing, companies, to drive usage, will increase efforts to secure high-quality content as a differentiator. An example of this is the deal between HBO and Amazon to bring HBO shows over-the-top (OTT) to Amazon Prime's streaming video service—the only such deal that the premium cable net has struck to date. 

Edited by Adam Brandt

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