Study shows that streaming boxes and dongles are still in vogue

Mike Wheatley

Reports about the slow demise of video streaming boxes may be exaggerating things, with a new study showing that the majority of smart TV owners continue to use devices such as Chromecast, Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku.


The study by Hub Entertainment Research focused on consumers aged from 16 to 74 and their habits regarding smart TVs and media boxes for streaming video. It found that although many new Smart TVs are assimilating the functionality of streaming boxes, most consumers don’t rely on their TVs internal capabilities alone.

“The demise of the separate streaming media players is being greatly exaggerated, with over half of the replacement tech still connected to a streaming media player,” Hub Entertainment Research said in its report.

According to the study, most consumers agree that the features of streaming boxes and Smart TVs are similar. However, most continue to use streaming devices as they provide access to applications not available on Smart TV platforms.

“If an OEM wants a viewer all to itself, it either needs to go all in on universality and offer all services, or exclusivity, being the only source,” the study noted.

Altogether, three in four Smart TV and streaming box owners say they also use their devices for other purposes besides watching TV and videos, such as music and gaming.

Smart TV makers seem to realize this, as many new models are adding gaming capabilities via partnerships with cloud gaming providers such as Google and Nvidia. The market research firm Omdia recently referred to this trend as the “third streaming wave”. At the same time, streaming boxes like Apple TV are introducing more powerful hardware to render video games at faster speeds and with lower latency.

The report noted that consumers have many other considerations with their devices, including video and audio format support, digital movie purchases, privacy and tracking, wireless audio platforms, cast systems such as AirPlay and Chromecast, TV fitness services, smart home integration and more.

"The connected TV ad business is built on OEMs collecting viewer data – but it seems few viewers know that," the study authors wrote. "Taking these responses at face value, stakeholders in the CTV ad space may be in trouble if enough consumers wake up to this potential high-profile privacy issue."