While digital media players clearly enable use of streaming video and other platforms that enhance viewer control, new GfK research suggests that they may actually provide a net gain for traditional TV viewing.
The report, Digital Media Players 2014, shows that 19% of TV viewers now own at least one of the three major digital media players: Roku, Google’s Chromecast, or Apple TV. This represents a 10-fold increase over the 2010 ownership level (2%).
Overall, 43% to 50% (levels vary by device brand) of digital media player owners say that they use the devices in addition to their regular TV viewing – larger than the proportions (31% to 42%) that use them to substitute for traditional TV. Chromecast owners are most likely to report that their digital player supplements, rather than replaces, broadcast TV.
But roughly one-third (38% to 29%) of digital media player users say they have reduced or eliminated their Pay TV service due to their usage of the devices. Roku owners are most likely to report “cord slicing” or “cord cutting,” with Chromecast and Apple TV at essentially the same levels.
In addition, 21% to 36% of digital media player owners say they now watch some networks, services, or programs because of their availability on the devices, with Roku users reporting the highest levels of this “new” viewing. A variety of broadcast and cable TV networks are cited, as well as series such as Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead.
“Digital media players take a primary role in users’ viewing behavior, ranking as the first or second destination – ahead of live TV or DVRs – when deciding what to watch in primetime,” said David Tice, SVP at GfK.
“However, a positive note for linear networks is that digital media player users don’t perceive their use as cannibalizing their regular TV viewing.”