Netflix, Hulu (News - Alert), YouTube...these are household names when it comes to providing an evening's entertainment. A new report from Parks Associates shows just how saturated these brands are, as over one in five broadband households in the United States with at least one CE device turn to a streaming media player as the primary delivery mechanism for online video.
That may not sound like much by itself, but one year ago just 12 percent of broadband households could say likewise. The number has nearly doubled in the space of a year, and that means major gains in the field. What's more, there were even some decliners in the field; connected gaming consoles and DVR lost some ground in these rankings, while smart TV systems saw a “modest” increase.
The market for such material is fairly broad; the Parks Associates (News - Alert) study—titled The Streaming Media Device Landscape—found that two out of three broadband households in the United States connect a device to the Internet, with the Xbox line most frequently used for streaming, at over 14 percent. Sony's PlayStation line comes in at just under 14 percent.
Parks Associates director of research Barbara Kraus offered further clarification on the results, noting that gaming consoles have a very broad installation base, but streaming media players like Roku were still making major gains despite the “lower penetration of streaming media devices.” Roku actually beat several major brands, including Google, Nintendo and Samsung (News - Alert) in terms of overall use.
Right now, one in five broadband households in the United States own at least one streaming media “cube player” and eight percent have a breed of streaming stick. This is prompting CE makers to add more features to those devices, bringing in information, convenience and utility along with entertainment value.
Parks Associates' study is freighted with meaning for several industries; not only is this a clear warning bell for cable providers—more and more streaming-capable devices are coming into play, so that's increasing the potential cable will be left in the cold—but it's also a warning to device makers. With more devices in play, devices will have to do more to stand out, and that means new features, better quality and lower prices. It also gives streaming video providers more ammunition in an already target-rich environment; more users mean more potential revenue, and also a clear warning to recalcitrant content providers. Failure to offer content on streaming platforms means a clear risk of losing viewership, despite the potential losses coming from reduced physical media sales.
The entertainment landscape is always changing, and so too the means to access that landscape. Streaming media may be approaching the top of the food chain, but there's always room for a new competitor to show up and give the people what's most desired.