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With opportunities to access TV content becoming almost infinite – dozens of services now offer anywhere/anytime access – viewers’ reasons for buying and using digital media players are shifting.
According to GfK’s The Home Technology Monitor, 64 per cent of digital media player owners report that at least one of their players is connected to a TV that also has traditional pay-TV service. (The research shows that 27 per cent of owners have two or more of the players.)
For this study, GfK focused on the top four players – Apple TV, Roku, Google’s Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV – which account for 90 per cent of the market.
Owners of digital media players are now more likely to say that they use the devices as “an addition to regular TV broadcasts” – 58 per cent in 2016, versus 45 per cent for the same study in 2014. And the proportion who say they view their digital players as “replacement(s) for regular broadcasts” has dropped, from 40 per cent to 29 per cent. (Note: Fire TV is not included in trend comparisons because it was not measured in 2014.)
In addition, fewer digital media player owners are reporting that having the devices has led them to eliminate traditional pay-TV (cable or satellite) service – with the 2014 level of 17 per cent dropping to 13 per cent. Levels of reducing (shaving) cord service have remained basically constant since 2014.
‘Variety/selection’ has grown in importance as something Roku and Chromecast users like about their digital players, while ‘Convenience’ has become less crucial as a benefit. Reasons for liking Apple TV have remained more constant compared to the other two – and, for all four devices, levels of seeing them as ‘alternative(s) to cable’ are quite low.
The #1 weekly activity across all four players is ‘Watching TV programmes’, and ‘Watching movies’ is #2 – even though levels for these activities have dropped since 2014 for Roku and Apple TV. Chromecast users report roughly the same levels of TV programme and movie viewing as they did two years ago.
Owners of Apple TV and Chromecast say that watching live TV (via cable, satellite, or over the air) is still their first choice when sitting down to view movies or TV in primetime. By contrast, Fire TV and Roku users say that they turn to their digital media players first in primetime, with live TV being a second choice.
“The world of connectedness and content viewing has changed dramatically just in the past two years,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President of Media & Entertainment at GfK. “Once seen as simple enablers of cord cutting, digital media players have become TV service and viewing enhancers for consumers who apparently can never have too much content. Fire TV has kept the digital player market hot, creating fresh competition and interest from consumers, and we expect to see more growth as all the main players introduce improvements and new features.”
The Digital Media Players 2016 report from GfK’s The Home Technology Monitor is based on interviews with 804 owners of at least one of the four main devices, with 200-plus active users for each brand of player.