Roku and Apple seem to have a strangle hold on the US digital streaming market as far as little black magic boxes go that deliver the content. Roku, apparently, has the upper hand at the moment, according to data provided by Parks Associates. Parks Associates is a research and analysis company selling reports and analysis of what consumers are watching and using through the little black box transmitting devices. The popularity of streaming media increases as more homes focus in on the content available.
Google was a major player in the market, however, their share is now slowly declining. Other competitors in this market like TiVo, Netgear, and Sony, are also showing decreased shares in percentage from a high of 32 percent down to 28 percent. Worldwide, Apple still holds a substantial lead over Roku, at 20 million units sold compared to Roku’s eight million units. Amazon Prime has jumped into the streaming media fray. This may cause Apple to perk up a bit and take notice with more aggressive actions in this highly competitive arena.
Another report from Parks Associates shows more than 25 percent of American households will own a streaming media device by the year 2015. Roku is outpacing Apple at this point by almost a 2 to 1 margin. The percentage of Roku devices used in the United States is at 46 percent, while Apple’s shares is only at 26 percent. The primary reason for this gap is the close association between Netflix and Roku, with Roku offering 1,700 channel applications, different models to choose from with different features and price points for those models. Apple has not aggressively pursued the US market with little support or promotion for its Apple TV, and this seems to be the weak point in its sales.
The loose definition of streaming media is; Allowing users to obtain instant access to audio, video or multimedia offerings without downloading content to a personal or business computer. By accessing a remote site where the information is stored, users can hook into the data and watch, listen to, or in some cases, inter-act with a presentation. Since coming online, streaming media has flourished into a huge market, as consumers demand more and more content.
Using broadband as a delivery system is a clean, quick, and time-saving method of receiving streaming media. The other options are dial-up and satellite reception. Dial-up is at this time a fading technology, while satellite users are those people in remote locations where cable, or dial-up is not an option. Streaming media options and popularity increase as competition heats up among the principal purveyors of the media elbow each other for position. The leaders in the technologies of viewing, software creating, media players and content delivery are: Real Networks, Microsoft, Akamai, Mirror Image, Vital Stream, Adobe, and Apple.
Related to content delivery, but in a separate category, are the streaming services. Those listed as the top streaming services are: Vudu, iTunes, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Hulu Plus, and Netflix. Netflix is the hands down winner in content, mainly because they began as a DVD mailbox offering starting in 1997. Realizing early in the game that streaming media was the instant model everyone wanted, they switched their focus to streaming media and remained in the lead. Netflix still offers to send DVD’s those individuals who want them.
Amazon Prime is next in the line up with their streaming media offering, having started out selling books online, they are the current leader in selling anything and everything through the internet. Amazon broke into this market as a pay-per-content vendor, but as they were already a subscription service for other products they quickly adapted and added the streaming as part of the service. This and partnerships with Warner Bros, and Epix helped their content library balloon into a major contender in the streaming market.
Hulu Plus strength is as the main purveyor of television programs, some of which are only hours old on cable. If someone is an avid television watcher Hulu Plus’ lineup is second to none, with the only drawback of having to watch the commercials. Hulu is also everywhere and that is a top attraction for viewers who want to watch their particular show whenever and wherever they happen to be.
YouTube is known more for its ubiquitous offerings than anything else. Though someone may rent or purchase movies, it is mainly known for the wide-ranging subject matter it offers. Those addicted internet surfers who can’t find anything to read, write about or watch, may save themselves time and go instantly to YouTube for whatever outrageous material satisfies their urge at the moment.
iTunes and Apple are synonymous with music and video streaming. Long before owning DVD’s of music and movies was the defined way to save different media, Apple understood that physical media would succumb to video streaming of these activities. It established a musical foothold, and has forged a strong following in the selling, renting and streaming of music, TV shows, and movies, and many imitators along the way.
Vudu is backed by Wal-Mart and its content is a mixture of television shows and movies with an emphasis on a larger selection of movies over television shows. It is a pay-per content outlet and the difference between a physical DVD or a rental is similar, with the price variation being controlled by popularity and quality. Streaming media is a brass ring for the leading vendors and an increase in market share depends on who can find the right mix of popular consumer viewing habits.
By Andy Towle