The Streamers Fight For Position

It was not long ago that owning a streaming media device was considered a little out there -- a bit too techy.

I still wonder if Amazon Prime Video ramped up because consumers liked the idea or if they just  liked that a Prime Video subscription came with free shipping. That deal always reminded me of the old pitch for Duz detergent: Each box of that old Procter & Gamble brand came with a free drinking glass, and that was the center of the sales pitch.

But now, you don’t have to back into asking people about streaming media. They get it. And they also get it. A just-out report from Barbara Kraus, director of research for Parks Associates, calculates that now 18% of households get video from a streaming media player like Roku, Apple TV or Amazon, and 8% from streaming sticks lie Google Chromecast, Amazon's Fire TV Stick, and Roku's HDMI Streaming Stick.

The most popular player continues to be offered by Roku, a surprising fact because Amazon, Apple and Google each have so much more marketing clout.



Even more access streaming video via gaming consoles -- upwards of 40%, a stat that always surprises me -- although its popularity for streaming seems to be diminishing. A new report from Pivotal Research Group says over half of all homes now get some SVOD service.

A survey last year from GIK MRI concludes that 28% of all TV watching is now actually video streaming, although the way the future blends into the present, few of us make much of a distinction between watching TV and watching TV via Hulu, for example. It  has just happened so that discussing “Transparent” or “Difficult People” is not as likely to produce blank stares from your friends.

The streaming player war perks up now and then. The major players this year will all offer a March Madness app so subscribers can bring in whatever game they want from the NCAA tourney. But only Apple TV will arrange so its viewers will be able to watch two games side by side through a new split-screen feature, Re/Code reports.

The Parks Associate study actually focuses on the market battle between streaming sticks and streaming players. The sticks, Kraus surmises, are good for what they are and have a place in the market.  “In general, sticks will be sufficient for streaming while player offerings will evolve into products with premium features,” she writes.

But the money is in the full-sized players.  

“Both Apple and Amazon essentially price their devices at the break-even point -- the money to be made is from content sales and advertising. Additionally, the improved user experience of a player can increase content sales. Usage is critical because it drives content spend for streaming media devices. Average monthly content spend --  excluding purchases of games -- is highest on streaming media devices at $18.07 per month, followed by smart TVs and gaming consoles. However, when game purchases are added to the mix, the average monthly spend increases by $4.65.”

 This column was originally published in Vid Blog on March 8, 2016.
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