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United States Television Apple Hardware

Roku Is the Top Streaming Device In the US and Still Growing, Report Finds (techcrunch.com) 96

Roku is the top streaming media player device in the U.S., and its growth is only increasing. According to the latest industry report from market intelligence firm Parks Associates, 37 percent of streaming devices in U.S. households are Roku devices, as of the first quarter of this year. That's up from 30 percent in the same quarter last year, the report notes. TechCrunch reports: The growth is coming at the expense of Roku's top competitors, like Apple and Google, with only Amazon's Fire TV able to increase its install base during the same timeframe. Fire TV devices are in 24 percent of U.S. households, as of Q1 2017, up from 16 percent last year. That climb allowed Amazon to snag the second position from Google's Chromecast, which has an 18 percent share. Lagging behind, Apple TV's market share fell to 15 percent -- a drop that Parks Associates Senior Analyst Glenn Hower attributes to Apple TV's price point. Roku last fall overhauled its line of streaming players with the intention of plugging every hole in the market. That strategy is seemingly paying off. There's now a Roku device to meet any consumer's needs -- whether that's an entry-level, portable and affordable "stick," to rival the Fire TV Stick or the Chromecast dongle, or a high-end player with 4K and HDR support, lots of ports, voice search remote, and other premium bells and whistles.
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Roku Is the Top Streaming Device In the US and Still Growing, Report Finds

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  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @07:19PM (#55072819)
    I'm sure there's a few months' lag in compiling the data and then processing it. Things have happened since Q1 2017 that make Roku less than useless for many users. I expect this growth spurt to be rather short lived. Before you pile your life savings into the IPO...
    • Care to share these things that happened in Q1 2017?

      I don't own one so I'm generally curious, especially considering the current priate device of choice is the "Fire Stick"

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Don't the nearly ubiquitous Smart TVs pretty much kill the need for Roku for many users? Assuming that it's for Netflix and then Amazon Prime Video a distant second... (Amazon couldn't be sad if their firestick dies either since it's just a means to an end).

        • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @08:35PM (#55073065)

          Actually Roku has made decent progress there too - my "smart TV" in my bedroom is a Roku TV, as are a decent number of the ones I've seen in stores. The interface actually isn't bad. It's just the regular Roku setup and the other inputs are just selections like the apps. All the TV settings are just integrated into the Roku settings screens.

          Also, FWIW, my downstairs TV is a standard "dumb" TV, and I'm using a Roku stick there too. I used an Amazon Fire TV for quite a while but I had to keep restoring the firmware to default and after a while it wouldn't even work correctly then. The Roku has been much less problematic for me.

          Never used a Chromecast and the last Apple TV I owned was the first gen one so I don't really have opinions on them.

        • by TuballoyThunder ( 534063 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @08:43PM (#55073085)
          Roku is much better than any of the smart tvs that I have come across. I did not even setup the smart functions on the tv I bought--I use a roku instead. I find the UI much easier to use on the roku and I trust Roku more than any of the tv manufacturers.
        • by luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @05:45AM (#55074259) Homepage

          Don't the nearly ubiquitous Smart TVs pretty much kill the need for Roku for many users? Assuming that it's for Netflix and then Amazon Prime Video a distant second... (Amazon couldn't be sad if their firestick dies either since it's just a means to an end).

          No, it doesn't. I own a Smart TV which isn't as smart as it claims to be. I love its large display capabilities, but the "smart" in it, it ain't that smart (same goes to most, if not all smart TVs.)

          It has an interface that sucks, but you don't want to update its firmware, for it bricks from time to time. That's when I got me a Roku streaming stick (and later a Roku 2 with an Ethernet adapter.)

          Both are convenient and when are on travel, we can take the streaming stick with us to plug it on a TV at a hotel (though good hotel now offer Netflix and Hulu as well.)

          Even if Smart tv manufacturers were to get their shit together and truly deliver smart software in them, I'd rather decouple them. There is a point where embedding makes no sense, with integration being the more advantageous alternative for the consumer.

          If a Smart TV firmware bricks or its wireless adapter go toast, what do you do? Buy a new one? In the meantime a portable streaming device that you can hook to the TV's hdmi port (and preferably with an Ethernet adapter) that costs you a double-figure? That sounds like a more reasonable alternative.

          I'm not buying TVs for their smartness anymore, just its display capabilities.

          I'm not sure what has happened with the latest family of Roku products, but I cannot complain with what I have right now.

          • I agree here. Roku is all about streaming. Many TV manufacturers treat the streaming like an afterthought, just another check-off box on the list of features.

            But there are Roku smart TVs, where some major brands embed the Roku as the smarts. Which may be a good idea if you can't find a new dumb TV anymore.

          • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

            I love its large display capabilities, but the "smart" in it, it ain't that smart (same goes to most, if not all smart TVs.)

            The problem with smart TVs is software, and it's not going to change.

            A Smart TV only came about because the control chips for TVs inherited the advances made by smartphones. My TV (a 55" Sharp Aquos, before HiSense) features a 166MHz ARM processor on it and actually runs an embedded Linux. Its sole purpose is to do the UI and other parts of the control aspect of the screen. It has the

        • by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross@NospAm.quirkz.com> on Thursday August 24, 2017 @09:23AM (#55075083) Homepage

          I see Smart TVs as being about the same as the combination printer/scanner/fax systems. It's wedging three separate technologies into one device, and in the process cheapening all of them. Also, when one goes down, they all go down, and then you get absurdities like not being able to fax because you're out of toner.

          My typical streaming device lasts 3-6 years, and the technology is changing rapidly. My typical TV lasts a decade or more, and for the most part I'd rather not try to keep up with expensive features there, and just want a nice screen at a reasonable price. I've avoided smart TVs simply because I figure the streaming part is likely to fail or become obsolete long before the screen does, and I'd like to be able to replace that component independently. If non-smart TVs ever go extinct, I'd still be inclined to leave the TV disconnected, and continue using the streaming device of my choice.

          Besides, most of my dumb TVs can't even do their own tuning and display interfaces right. I've got an RCA that insists on turning itself on every single day, via a timer feature that cannot be disabled. If they're that terrible about simple features, do you really want them putting their hands on proprietary streaming interfaces? I'd rather leave that to the experts.

        • Our "smart tv" came with a bunch of pre-installed apps that don't work out of box at all. I mean Netflix works, Hulu not available on my region, Vudu didn't work, Pandora didn't work. Yay Smart tv.
        • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @10:35AM (#55075523)

          That's because "Smart" TVs are crap. The landscape of video services is changing constantly, so if you buy a TV now, there's an excellent chance that one or more of the features will no longer function several years from now because the manufacturer can't arsed to put out updates once they got your money.

          And that's ignores the several instances of TV manufacturers pulling shady stunts like sending audio or other personal data back to the manufacturer on a regular basis.

          No... A TV should be nothing more than a device that displays pretty pictures and makes noises. Everything else belongs in an inexpensive and easily replaceable/updatable unit.

        • Smart TV could kill Roku if they didn't suck. Samsung makes a good dislay, but their smart TV especially sucks and has a very small lifecycle compared to Roku. My first Samsung smart TV doesn't even support Amazon video anymore, yet my first Roku is still chugging along with it. Shit, even my 2016 model Samsung TV smart features suck.

          • Some TV manufacturers partner with Roku now. For those people who insist on having the streaming built in I suppose. or if you can't find a dumb TV anymore and any new TV is going to be a smart TV you may as well buy one that's actually smart.

            Even the Roku TVs have the drawback that you're stuck with the original model for the life of the TV. You can get a new Roku of course, and ignore the one in your TV, just like many people get a streaming device and ignore the TV's smarts.

    • what besides them giving a warning about private channels potentially infringing copyright regulations?
  • by Presence Eternal ( 56763 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @07:22PM (#55072823)

    Rokus are fine, and it's great they are provider agnostic, but how is this possible? They compete directly with the primary methods people use to research and buy these devices, and I've not observed any exciting capability or pricing to them. I own three, but that's simply because they're not google, apple, or amazon.

    • Re:Surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @07:29PM (#55072853)

      I own four, but use only one right now..

      Roku is basically in the "it works" category for nearly all the service providers I know of and care to use. I've only had one fail, but it took a lighting hit that took the rest of my AV equipment to make it happen. That is why I believe they are top of the heap.

    • They've established a brand by starting in the market early (most people do recognize the name Roku), and they're priced pretty competitively. The cheapest one is $30 and though it lacks a few features of the more expensive models it's still a perfectly functional device.

      Granted, there's not much actual differentiation in function between the different manufacturer's here so I'd consider any company's lead being "fragile", but still - I don't see any reason why Roku wouldn't be doing well.

      • Most people?

        I'm not sure that's true. It seems unlikely, actually. I'm not sure that anyone I regularly speak with, in meatspace, knows what one is. I know, but I'm a geek.

        • I'm not sure "most people" know what streaming is, other than what is done in the bathroom.

        • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

          I first heard about them on a financial forum, where people were talking about what to do if they cut cable. Those were definitely not technical people on the whole, though the "let's talk budget" crowd is probably a bit of a niche, too.

    • They're in the stores. Ie, at Target when you look at the TV models, the Rokus are in boxes on the shelf below or to the side. And in larger numbers than the Apple or Amazon boxes. Amazon probably had the marketing advantage if you bought TVs online so that you always saw its recommendations, but not so much if you were buying from a brick and mortar store. Apple and Google don't seem to be marketing their devices much.

      Also when I did my research on this (which automatically means I'm not a typical consu

  • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @07:26PM (#55072845)
    Roku doesn't have a competitive content business themselves (even though they want to), which means that (so far) it's in their best interest to work hard to make sure their platform works with everyone.
    • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

      Roku not having a competitive content business is by design. Roku was originally created within Netflix and then spun out because Netflix wanted to be able to make deals with other hardware providers without it seeming like they were competing against them.

  • by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @07:32PM (#55072867)

    What TFA does not say is how many households have no streaming device.

    • What TFA does not say is how many households have no streaming device.

      Indeed. I don't watch TV shows and only very occasionally watch a movie that's many years old, on my computer. Don't own a "TV". Between the exceedingly poor quality of current movies and TV series and the behavior of the media cartels regarding their abuse of copyright, screw 'em! I won't give them money *or* eyeballs.

      Strat

  • One of the things I like most about having a (3rd gen) Apple TV is AirPlay. But one of the things I don't like about the device is having to use iTunes to stream my ripped movies and TV shows to it.

    Does Roku have a similar (and solid) feature that works with various computers, tablets, etc.?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by neovoxx ( 818095 )

      While I'm not familiar with airplay, Plex makes for a great and free media server/streamer that has apps on just about every ecosystem including Roku.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by h33t l4x0r ( 4107715 )
      Roku + Plex is about as good as it gets. I haven't tried Apple TV but I have some Chromecasts that lie around unused.
      • I have some Chromecasts that lie around unused.

        Ebay them. They sell for almost retail.

        Personally, I love my Chromecasts and can't think why I'd want a Roku instead? Is it just for Amazon Prime, because they refuse to cooperate with (or even sell) Chromecasts?

    • The Roku app has their equivalent of AirPlay (Play on Roku) where you can stream content stored on your device directly to the Roku

  • I used to love Fire TV and use it almost exclusively but the changes they made to the UI, (Homepage and search category's.) are really terrible so I may look to moving to Roku player. (Even the voice search is fubar after 'Alexa' updates.) Basically after recent changes Fire TV is now constantly trying to sell u content even if you try to search in free Amazon Prime only content. (They have actually made it difficult to search for your free Prime media and your purchased library only. The changes to the
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @07:39PM (#55072895)

    I love my little Roku 3. I wish it were legal to marry it, or my sister. Either one.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My parents are now in their 80s, and they used half a dozen different DVRs (including three different models from Comcast that were just dreadful) before I finally gave-up and bought them a TiVo. They actually used it unlike the others.

    I connected an old Mac Mini to their TV, and they never used it even though I had it sync to my collection of hundreds of movies and TV shows. Same with Chromecast, their Samsung "smart" TV, Amazon Fire, and Apple TV. I gave them my old Roku, and they love it. They use it

  • Roku support is utterly terrible.

    NVidia shield TV is the way to go. NVidia somehow manage to deliver enterprise grade support to consumers including things like RMA forward replacements.

    • For twice the cost of Roku.

  • I'd bet people are hesitant to pay into the Goolag due to YouTube shenanigans.
    • by hackel ( 10452 )

      I bet most people don't have a clue what you're talking about. YouTube shenanigans? What? I definitely don't consume most of my content from YouTube, and generally ignore anything that happens there.

  • by Drakonblayde ( 871676 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2017 @08:57PM (#55073137)

    I'm up to three of them in the house now, and I wouldn't be surprised if another 2 or 3 got added in the next couple of years as the kids get older and want their own TV's in their rooms.

    For my family, it aggregates the platforms we use to consume media (Plex for local, Netflix and Amazon Prime for non-local) into a single device that's simple to use and just works.

    And after I figured out how much data they were sending back and Pi-Holed their telemetry domains, all was right with the world.

    • by hackel ( 10452 )

      If you have to pi-hole their domains in the first place, that is unacceptable.

      Also, you have 3 TVs and the kids don't even have their own yet? WTF?

  • and have to register the "hardware" before you can use it? That's why I never got one...

  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Thursday August 24, 2017 @07:21AM (#55074523)
    I have played with the SDK which is simple and straightforward, in a few hours I wrote a "channel" that streams menus and content from my own server. My 3 year-old can use the menus. .

    The roku also accepts rest calls for pretty much all the remote control functions, and you can add "launch parameters" to your custom channels, effectively allowing you to add arbitrary rest calls.

    So basically I have a local picture menu that you can run from a browser to launch movies on any of my TVs, using fully supported and easy to understand roku APIs.

    This makes it basically the only viable choice for my household
  • Maybe because Murdoch's Sky have a stake in Roku and use a re-branded Roku for their NowTV box they sell. But they haven't yet launched the Roku 4 in the UK and don't really push their boxes.

    So if you want 4K look elsewhere....

    Firesticks and Chromecasts seem a lot more common.

  • I bought a Roku Ultra to be able to watch both Amazon and Google content on one device. Even though it was months after release, the apps still had audio sync issues making the services unwatchable. The forums were filled with complaints and I posted logs and questions which were ignored. Literally the only reply I ever received from a Roku forum moderator was a complaint that my post was off topic for the thread (I was posting in an active thread as most others were ignored). Ditched Roku that day and
  • "There's now a Roku device to meet any consumer's needs."

    Oh really? There's a Roku that can run Kodi and other Android applications? That's great! And it supports casting from a phone as well? Perfect! I've been waiting for Roku to catchup. Even better is that it's an open-source operating system.

    Oh. Wait. Roku is still proprietary garbage, that's right. What a terrible article.

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