Why Roku Is the Internet Video Box Leader, While Google Is Slipping

May 31, 2018, 2:00 PM UTC

Google is losing market share for its Chromecast Internet TV devices, after going more than a year without updating its lineup, while Amazon made big gains and market leader Roku (ROKU) held steady.

Only 14% of consumers who owned an Internet video streaming device used one from Google in the first quarter, down from 18% a year earlier and 21% two years ago, according to surveys by research firm Parks Associates. At the same time, 28% of consumers used a Fire TV device from Amazon, up from 24% last year and 16% in 2016.

Roku, which went held an initial public offering in February, was steady as the market leader with 37% share, the same as last year and up from 33% two years ago. Apple captured 15% of the market, the same as last year and down from 19% in 2016, Parks said.

Internet streaming has taken off as more consumers drop or cut back on their subscriptions to traditional cable TV. More than 3% of consumers that paid for a traditional cable or satellite TV subscription cut the cord last year, the highest rate on record. Cord cutters rely on Internet streaming devices to access everything from typical Hollywood shows and movies on Netflix (NFLX) and Hulu to more niche video content like the horror-focused Shudder and video gamer-oriented Rooster Teeth services.

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Consumers say Roku’s line up, which ranges from its $30 Express box to its $100 4K-capable Ultra, is the easiest to use, Parks research analyst Kristen Hanich says. Apple’s Apple TV boxes, which cost $179 or $199 depending on storage capacity, rate highly for gaming and ease of purchasing content. Amazon’s (AMZN) Fire TV platform, available via a $40 USB stick or a more capable $70 plug-in box, are easy to set up and catching up to Apple (AAPL) on ease of finding content and ease of purchasing content, “which could account in part for its growing market share,” Hanich said.

Google (GOOGL) is slipping after not updating its Chromecast line up last year. The $69 Chromecast Ultra, introduced in Oct. 2016, is 4K-compatible, in theory, but only a few apps offer 4K content via the device. Google hasn’t introduced any updates or new streaming hardware since.

Of all households with broadband Internet connections, 40% now have an Internet video streaming device, up from 6% in 2010, Parks said.

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