For years Roku has built a sizable and dominant lead in the world of streaming players. Our recent in-house surveys have shown about 70% of our readers not only own but also use a Roku streaming player. Yet we have noticed that Amazon’s Fire TV is seeing strong growth. Now others are starting to notice that growth.
This week Morgan Stanly analysts said the Amazon Fire TV market share has grown while Amazon’s market share has stayed steady. This is in line with what we have seen from our in-house survey. Roku has held right around 70% for the last few quarters, but the Fire TV is now used by 40% of our readers up from 35% in the summer of 2018. (Note: Many readers reported owning multiple types of streaming players.)
The question now is what does this mean for Roku. Things are still great for Roku because right now one in four new smart TVs sold in the United States is powered by Roku. They still have about 70% of the cord cutting market and their ad business is growing quickly. Yet Amazon’s growth is catching up.
Amazon’s Fire TV is also facing troubled waters because Walmart, as of today, is no longer selling the Fire TV. Google also has pulled official YouTube support and has yet to launch a YouTube TV app on the Fire TV. While these may seem like minor issues, Walmart is still one of the most popular places to buy TVs and streaming devices. YouTube TV is also reportedly one of the fastest growing streaming services among cord cutters.
So, which will win in the long run? Both are well placed and are willing to sell devices at a cheap price to make money on the back end. Roku makes most of their money on ads and subscriptions. Amazon makes most of their money by selling products including digital products through the Fire TV.
For now, it is looking like the war to dominate your living room streaming experience is increasingly coming down to Amazon and Roku. While Google and Apple have streaming players, recently both have struggled to see growth in market share. The Apple TV has been stuck at 24% in our recent surveys.
Even if it does come down to a Roku versus Amazon battle, don’t look for anyone to get out of the streaming player business because the market is still extremely lucrative even if you have just a small share of it.
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