Android TV reaches 80 million streamers monthly, Google says

The new Chromecast by Google features Android TV’s operating system built-in, which the company has since renamed “Google TV.” (Photo: Matthew Keys/Graphic: The Desk)

Google’s streaming television operating system Android TV is used by more than 80 million streamers around the world on a monthly basis, the technology giant confirmed during a developer presentation on Tuesday.

The number is the first time Google has confirmed the number of devices actively running the television version of the Android operating system since it was released in 2014.

Google is the primary developer of Android TV. It began offering  a re-tooled version of the operating system called Google TV, which sports content discovery software from a number of streaming apps and was first offered last year on Google’s next-generation Chromecast streaming device.

It was not clear if the number revealed by Google included streaming devices running Amazon’s Fire TV, which uses a variant of the Android software developed and distributed exclusively by Amazon. The underlying software is so similar that applications developed for Android TV streaming devices can be installed on devices running Fire TV, and vice versa.

If Google’s number doesn’t include Fire TV devices running a forked version of Android, it would put Google well ahead of its closest two competitors, and far ahead of Apple’s television platform.

Both Amazon and Roku recently announced global milestones of their own, with each platform crossing the 50 million active device mark over the past year. Apple typically does not disclose the number of active Apple TV devices on the market.

Google says most of the devices running its Android TV software are located in Asian countries where developers are more inclined to create apps for local streaming services. In the past, these apps have typically seen less representation on Amazon Fire TV and Roku.

The tech company did not say have many active streaming devices are located in the United States, though it has certified a number of companies to produce Android TV-powered hardware.

Among the Android TV offered for domestic sale are the TiVo Stream 4K, the Xiaomi Mi TV Stick, the Nvidia Shield and Google’s own Chromecast with Google TV. AT&T offers an Android TV-powered box to customers of its Internet-based AT&T TV service; for a few months, T-Mobile did the same with its now-defunct TVision product.

Google said its Android TV business in the United States has accelerated tremendously since last year, when it introduced the Chromecast with Google TV. But given the number of Google-certified devices running Android TV, it’s difficult to know just how much of the segment Google has captured with its own hardware.

To that extent, TiVo said last year that the Stream 4K device was one of its best-selling gadgets of all time. The TiVo Stream 4K predated the Google with Chromecast TV by several months, and is currently offered to consumers for around $10 less compared to the Google-developed streamer.

Earlier this month, the chief executive of TiVo’s parent company Xperi acknowledged Google’s entry into the hardware and content discovery space made it difficult to compete with budget Android TV devices. His comments on the matter strongly suggested TiVo would look toward content licensing instead of hardware, though a spokesperson eventually affirmed TiVo’s supposed commitment to developing Android TV hardware for the foreseeable future.

If Xperi does exit the market, it would leave the Google with Chromecast TV as one of the few, reliable Android TV streamers backed by a recognizable household name among a sea of largely-unknown, off-brand Android TV boxes of dubious origin. That could help Google further accelerate its push in the streaming television space, both domestically and internationally.