Roku tops US connected TV devices

The use of connected TV devices continues on a sharp upward path, with another year of double-digit growth in the US, according to findings from research firm eMarketer.

In total, 168.1 million people in the US will use an Internet-connected TV in 2017, up 10.1 per cent over 2016. Usage of smart TVs, which have connectivity built in and need no secondary device, are the largest single subgroup within the category.

Smart TV users will make up nearly half of all connected TV viewers, with 81.2 million users in 2017, representing a 30.8 per cent increase over 2017 levels.

In fact, the growth of smart TV usage has led eMarketer to revise downwardly its latest forecast of total connected TV viewers.

“Essentially, more people are buying smart TVs than previously anticipated, which holds back demand for third-party connectivity devices,” said Paul Verna, principal video analyst at eMarketer.

Growth in usage of connected-TV devices remains robust, nevertheless. eMarketer estimates that 38.9 million Americans will use a Roku device at least once a month, up 19.3 per cent vs. 2016. As a result, the device will capture 23.1 per cent of all connected TV users.

“As the only major market participant not affiliated with a content or TV device platform, Roku has used its neutrality to strike deals with a wide range of partners, including smart TV makers, over-the-top (OTT) service providers and social media companies,” said Verna. “That expansive strategy, combined with the company’s broad selection of connectivity devices at various price points, has put Roku at the head of the pack.”

eMarketer notes that there is overlap, as some consumers and households use more than one streaming device.

Roku’s closest competitor in the US is Chromecast, which will have 36.9 million users this year, equating to 22.0 per cent of connected TV users. Meanwhile, Amazon Fire TV will have 35.8 million users in 2017, or 21.3 per cent of connected TV users.

A distant fourth among the streaming devices is Apple TV, which will have 21.3 million users this year, equivalent to 12.7 per cent of US connected TV users. Apple TV will continue to fall further behind its rivals in the coming years. As competitors add between 20 million and 30 million users by the end of 2021, Apple TV will add less than 4 million.

“Apple TV has been held back by the absence of a compelling content offering, a lack of support for increasingly popular Amazon video content and a much higher price bracket than its competitors,” Verna said. “Apple TV devices currently start at $150 [€128], whereas Google, Amazon and Roku all sell streaming sticks that are priced well below $40.”

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