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New Data Showcases Uptick in North American Smart TV and Streaming Player Usage

Jeff Kotuby

Smart TVs have seen a large uptick in popularity over the past several years — and now we know just how popular they’ve gotten throughout North America.

According to a report by TiVo, smart TVs and streaming devices are rising in popularity, to the point where 7 out of 10 American homes own at least one smart TV, with many reporting they purchased a new TV in the past 6 months. Smart TVs enjoy a substantial penetration advantage over streaming media players (SMP.) In a separate report, Leichtman Research Group said 55 percent of TV households have at least one SMP, up from 29 percent in 2019.

The report also found that SMPs are used more often than Smart TVs, which could be related to familiarity versus form or function. 41 percent of Canadian and US adults say an SMP is the main way they watch Internet TV services, while 28 percent say they use their smart TV. Further, Leichtman says the number of people using a smart TV daily is 21 percent, while 25 percent say they use an SMP.

Among the most popular streaming media players are the Amazon Fire series of products, followed by Roku’s offerings, with Apple TV and Chromecast bringing up the rear — though still at respectable numbers comparatively speaking. 30 percent of surveyed SMP owners said they used an Amazon product to stream content, 29 percent had a Roku, 21 percent an Apple TV, 18 percent a Chromecast, and 12 percent fell into the “Other” category.

This ranking of popularity also translated to the rankings of which device consumers wanted to purchase next — but not exactly. 24 percent of those looking to upgrade said they’d get an Amazon Fire device, but 17 percent said they’d get an Apple TV device next, usurping Roku, the choice of 15 percent of those surveyed.

Why is Roku seemingly an unpopular option? It could be related to the number of ads found on the platform. Roku far and away exceeds its competition in regard to ad revenue. Freewheel said that 43 percent of CTV ads shown in the first half of 2021 came from a Roku device, which is a substantial lead over Amazon (26 percent) and everyone else (combined 31 percent.) However, an earlier report showed Roku as the clear global winner of screen time, as it amassed 30 percent of the world’s big screen time throughout 2020. There’s also the matter of Roku's ongoing feud with YouTube TV.

Regardless of how and where you watch your streaming content, it doesn’t look like the smart TV/SMP phenomenon is ending any time soon. As Delta variant numbers spike across the country and more folks invest in their home theater experiences, we could see streaming have banner years similar to 2020 in the near future.

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