Roku, Apple and Google should brace for streaming video boom

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Satellite companies might not be in a mood to celebrate, but things are looking positively rosy for companies selling video streaming devices, who are benefitting from the general trend of what industry insiders call over-the-top content. And if the sheer excitement over cord-cutting and the Chromecast isn’t telling enough, then this morning’s report from American market research firm Parks Associates should be ample testimony that video streaming to our big screen televisions is about to have its moment.

According to the report, the number of U.S. households that own some kind of video streaming device, which is defined specifically as a set-top box or dongle that is connected to the TV, has doubled in the last two years, to about 14 percent. Parks Associates projects that such streaming media devices will be in 300 million households by 2017 and that sales revenue will increase by 100 percent in that period, driven by shrinking costs.

Parks Associates points to a bigger shift in TV buying as conducive to streaming media device sales. Big screens and cutting edge Smart TVs are becoming more popular, the company says, and we will soon see an increased adoption of high-end products like 4D or UltraHD Smart TVs. While households may not seek to upgrade their thousand-dollar television every year or two, streaming video boxes become a cheap way to get an upgraded experience in the living room.

Of the 10,000 people Parks Associates surveyed, the percentage that do own set-top boxes tend to favor Roku’s offerings. In the survey, 37 percent have a Roku, compared to 24 percent who own an Apple TV. While Apple has been slow to make over its AppleTV, Roku has been quite aggressive in developing new models, the latest being the Roku 3. Google’s Chromecast is going to be an influential player in the streaming video market due to its ease of use, according to our very own Janko: “Chromecast is pure simplicity: Search and discovery of video content is happening on the mobile device or laptop, and all Chromecast does is stream media from the cloud.”

Another big draw is the boost in broadband speeds across the country, which helps streaming devices produce picture-perfect video. As some cities explore the super-fast speeds of gigabit connections, broadband companies are pushing to offer better service across the country for lower costs. More consumers will have access to better internet over time, making streaming devices a low-cost way to get high-quality media.

As the Chromecast continues to roll out in force, it’s not a stretch to see massive growth for video streaming devices coming down the pike over the next few years. As dongles and boxes get cheaper to produce and are packed with more features — in Apple TV’s case, maybe even some honest-to-goodness broadcasting deals — their appeal will continue to increase. Satellite companies should have more reasons to worry.

This post was updated at 2:16pm with correct spelling of Parks Associates.

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