Roku, Amazon grow share of streaming market space

A Roku home screen is shown on a smart television set.
A Roku home screen is shown on a smart television set. (Graphic by The Desk)

Roku and Amazon’s collective share of the domestic streaming hardware market now stands at 80 percent, according to new research released this week.

The data, collected by Parks Associates and shared with industry publication Fierce Video, shows Roku and Amazon are tied for first place among the four biggest streaming hardware platforms, with each commanding a 40 percent share of the space as of the third quarter of 2022, a 7 percent year-over-year increase.

The report covers streaming TV devices like dongles, sticks and pucks sold and activated in the United States, and doesn’t include operating systems installed on smart TV sets or streaming platforms on game consoles.

While Roku and Amazon’s share of the streaming device space has grown, the opposite is true for Apple and Google’s Chromecast with Google TV, with both devices seeing a drop in year-over-year adoption. Apple TV’s market share fell to 9 percent, a year-over-year decline of 3 percent, while the Chromecast with Google TV dropped to 7 percent, a year-over-year decline of 1 percent.

The data suggests streaming TV viewers are attracted to low-cost devices that offer access to as many popular apps as pricier gadgets, and that the Roku and Amazon brands are resonating with consumers as the trend of cord-cutting increases. Amazon and Roku sell streaming TV devices for as little as $30, and the price of its cheapest offerings tends to drop even further during sales.

By contrast, Apple’s devices tend to run on the more-expensive side: Traditionally, the 4K-capable Apple TV model was priced at around $180, with sales bringing that cost down to around $120, which was still higher than comparable Roku and Amazon players. This week, Apple released updated versions of its Apple TV devices that brought the starting price down substantially, with the flagship model starting at $130.

The same can be said for the Chromecast with Google TV, a streaming dongle introduced by Google two years ago. At launch, the streaming device cost $50 a pop and ran an updated version of Google’s Android TV that offered a clean and organized user experience, but was otherwise unfamiliar with consumers. The price was also higher than comparable Android TV devices, including the TiVo Stream 4K (which was announced at $75, but has never been priced higher than $50, and currently retails for around $40) and budget streaming devices sold through Walmart’s Onn brand.

Like Apple, Google is hoping a lower cost will spur adoption of its streaming platform. Last month, Google lifted the curtain on a much-anticipated, HD-only version of the Chromecast with Google TV, which offers many of the same features as the flagship model, but at a lower cost of $30.

It is still too early to tell if the lower-priced devices offered by Apple and Google are enough: The cord-cutting trend started years ago, and Roku and Amazon’s commanding lead can easily be attributed to price and ease of use. While each platform has its own setbacks (Roku and Amazon have engaged in cable-like carriage disputes with streaming video services), they were able to lock in customers early on, and Google and Apple are somewhat late to the game.