Evidently, for today’s entertainment and media companies, the decision to launch an OTT app is a no brainer—the real battle is deciding on the best streaming device (or devices) to launch your OTT app on.
The right streaming device should open the door to the immense potential of an untapped and highly relevant audience. There’s no point investing your time and money building, testing and launching an app on a streaming device that won’t deliver dividends. Launching your app on multiple devices to maximize chances of success may seem like a smart strategy, but why risk delaying the rollout of your platform when you can analyze the market first and make an informed decision?
Here, we delve into the market size and growth potential of several of the most popular platforms, so that you can determine the best OTT device for your app.
Streaming Devices Comparison
As the pioneer of TV streaming and the top licenced TV operating system (OS) in the United States, Roku is a non-negotiable for the majority of content publishers.
Active users – Roku finished 2019 with 36.9 million active accounts, making it the second-largest TV streaming platform in the world. ** Devices sold** – More than 41 million Roku devices and smart TVs have been sold in the United States alone. To put that in perspective, one in every three smart TVs purchased in the U.S. is a Roku-enabled TV.
Existing apps/channels – As of March 2020, Roku claimed over 5,000 channels.
Streaming hours – In 2019, Roku users streamed a record-breaking 40.3 billion hours of content, up 68% on the previous year.
Product range – Consumers have the flexibility to choose between a diverse product range, including Roku Players, Roku Streaming Sticks and Roku TVs.
Growth rate – Roku’s active accounts grew from 11 million in 2016 to 36.9 million in 2019, and are expected to continue this rapid growth, at a rate of 6.7%. The growth will be fueled by a global expansion into European and Asian markets.
Supported Countries – Roku is currently supported in 20 countries, with the vast majority of devices sold in the United States/Canada, and a smaller presence in the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American countries.
Price/affordability – Price points range from $29.99 to $139.99, making Roku’s devices some of the most affordable on the market. Familiarity – Consumers are familiar with Roku devices. Therefore, by launching a Roku app, you’re providing consumers with a familiar and comfortable way to interact with your content.
App discovery – Roku offers an unmatchable user interface with advanced search capabilities, including voice-enabled remotes. Its text search box enables users to search not only for streaming apps, TV and movie titles, but also for actors, directors and producers. The platform also has a ‘Featured’ section for new apps, which means content owners can score free promotions to increase exposure. Monetization – Roku offers three primary monetization models including transaction video on demand (TVOD), subscription video on demand (SVOD), and advertising video on demand (AVOD).
Revenue share – Channels that manage their own ad server (inventory split) must share 30% of their ad revenues with Roku, whereas channels that opt for Roku to manage their ad inventory (revenue share) must share 40% of ad revenues with Roku, or Roku will pay the publisher a fixed CPM for ads served. In the inventory split model, channels keep 100% of revenues from other sources, such as subscriptions and in-app purchases.
Who is Roku Best for?
Launching your app on Roku provides immediate access to the platform’s 36 million monthly users, and according to Roku, the world’s most engaged OTT audience, as measured by average hours streamed.
If you’re an OTT provider focused on North American markets, Roku should be your number one choice. Roku is also a smart option for content providers who are looking to generate revenue through advertising. Although revenue share is relatively high at 30-40%, publishers will benefit from Roku’s advanced analytics and “Audience Marketplace” which uses first-party data and proprietary targeting technology to deliver highly relevant ads.
Amazon Fire TV
Active users – Amazon Fire TV reported 40 million active monthly users in the fourth quarter of 2019, snatching the crown from Roku as the number one streaming device in the United States. However, it’s important to note that Roku devices are available in just 20 countries, whereas Amazon Fire TV has already tapped into over 100.
Devices sold – Amazon has sold almost 30 million streaming devices in the United States.
Existing apps/channels – over 7,000 apps.
Product range – Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, Fire TV and Fire TV Gaming Edition.
Growth rate – Active users on Amazon Fire TV are expected to grow at a rate of 8.1% over the next four years, slightly faster than Roku due to the aggressive market of their devices on a global scale. Amazon also plans to enter the automotive industry after teaming up with Fiat Chrysler and BMW to bring Fire TV-enabled TV sets to rear seats.
Price/affordability – Prices are moderate, starting at $39.99 for the Fire Stick and $149.99 for Fire TVs.
App discoverability – App discoverability is limited on early models of the Amazon Fire TV stick, which don’t have a search function for channels or content, meaning consumers must sift through pages of channels and content manually. However, new models are integrated with Alexa voice technology, which makes discovering new apps easier for consumers.
Supported countries – Amazon’s Fire TV Stick (Basic Edition) is available in more than 100 countries and seven default languages including English, Spanish, Brazilian, Portuguese, French, Italian, and German. You can find a full list of supported countries here.
Monetization – Amazon Fire TV offers subscriptions (SVOD), transactional (TVOD) and advertising (AVOD) monetization models. You can charge a download fee for the app and offer items for sale within your app.
Revenue share – publishers and channels must share 30% of their advertising revenue with Amazon.
Who is Amazon Fire TV best for?
Like Roku, Amazon Fire TV is a clear choice for content publishers looking to tap into the household entertainment category. However, with a globally engaged audience, Amazon may be the better option for content providers looking to expand globally, or those with a niche market across multiple countries.
If you already have an existing Android app, developing on Amazon Fire TV is a safe bet as most Android apps only require minor adjustments for compatibility.
Active users – Apple TV lags behind Roku and Amazon with 21 million active monthly users.
Devices sold – 26 million media players and TVs in the U.S and 53 million worldwide.
Existing apps/channels – 1,600+ apps and games, in addition to its own channel Apple TV+.
Streaming hours – 21% of American households regularly stream via an Apple streaming device.
Growth rate – Apple TV has experienced significant growth in the last 12 months thanks to the introduction of Apple TV+. In 2019, the t ch giant reported a July quarterly revenue of $11.5B from its combined services, including iCloud, Apple TV and Apple Music. This represented a 13% year-over-year growth.
Countries supported – Available in over 100 countries.
Product range – Apple TVs (featuring a built-in App Store) and Apple TV media players and remotes.
Price/affordability – Apple TV devices have a significantly higher price tag, starting at $179.99. Although, with plenty of profits to play with, Apple is expected to lure in more customers with an enticing offer. Those who buy a new Apple device, including Apple TV, gain free access to Apple TV+ for an entire year.
App discoverability – Apple TV lacks a ‘recently searched’ section to easily located apps that were previously browsed. However, the latest Apple media players feature Siri integration (allowing users to quickly find content using their voice), and a personalized App store with tailored recommendations.
User Experience – Apple TV is popular among Apple users due to its stylish and streamlined interface designed in signature Apple-style. Although, the latest tvOS updates have improved the usability of Apple TV even more with the addition of multi-user support, parent safety controls, a games arcade, and compatibility with Xbox and PlayStation controllers to support gaming.
Monetization – Apple offers publishers four flexible monetization models, including freemium (free download with optional in-app purchases), subscription (auto-renewable in-app purchases), paid model (one-time payment for download) and paymium (paid download with in-app purchases). Learn more about monetization here.
Revenue share – Apple collects a 30% commission of subscriptions and in-app sales in the first year. For all successive years that the user remains a subscriber, Apple reduces its commission to 15%.
Who is Apple TV best for?
As a high-end brand with a loyal following, Apple TV should be a priority for premium content publishers looking to tap into luxury markets. Building an app for Apple TV exposes your channel to an audience that’s more willing to pay good money for your content. Apple TV 4K can handle all 4K resolution content, with HDR10 and Dolby Vision supported.
Active users – Android TV claims that “tens of millions” of consumers worldwide currently use their operating system.
Devices sold – Google first introduced Android TV in 2014 and has since partnered with over 140 tech companies, including Sony and Hisense. Therefore, it’s difficult to determine the exact sales numbers for set-top-boxes and smart TVs running Android TV.
Existing apps/channels – As of 2019, Android TV claims it has over 5,000 apps.
Growth rate – Worldwide sales of all Android TV devices– including set-top-boxes and smart TVs – are expected to grow at a CAGR of around 20% between 2019 to 2026, with a projected market value of $231 billion by 2026.
Supported countries – Android TV is available worldwide but is most popular within Asian and African regions.
Product range – Android TV—developed in-house by Google— is an Android operating system that comes built into several smart TVs, including Sony, Sharp, Soniq, TCL, Toshiba and LeEco and streaming devices like Nvidia Shield, Nexus Player and Xiaomi MI Box. Affordability – Android TV’s product range is diverse and so is their pricing. The Xiaomi Mi Box is moderately priced at $59.99 compared to $899 for the Sony X900F Series TV.
App discoverability – Android TV offers excellent app discoverability, especially since it’s compatible with Google Play Store. Users are given personalized recommendations based on view history and can search for content using a search bar or remote, which is fitted with Google Assistant’s voice technology. Users can also search for content by actor, actress or producer, and read a synopsis about each.
Monetization – Android TV apps can be monetized in many of the same ways other OTT apps. Publishers can adopt subscription or transactional models with in-app purchases, or sell brand sponsorships or advertising space to markers.
Revenue Share – OTT app owners must share 30% of revenues (including app purchases and subscriptions) with Google. After 12 months on a paid subscription, this is reduced to 15% of revenues.
Who is Android TV best for?
Android TV is a smart option for content publishers who see an advantage targeting the high resolution TV market as this market, and TV in developing countries, are the main driver of the Android TV market. Developing an Android TV app is also a profitable option for publishers in the game streaming market.
Active users – In 2019, Google reported that 24 million people in the United States were using either Chromecast or Android TV on a monthly basis.
Devices sold – Globally, however, Google has sold over 55 million Chromecasts since launching in 2013.
Existing apps/channels – Chromecast comes with hundreds of built-in apps. Users can also download device-enabled apps from the Google Play Store.
Growth rate – The growth of Chromecast in the United States has steadily declined at the hands of cheaper Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV Sticks. Chromecast currently accounts for just 11% of all streaming players in U.S households, a concerning drop from 21% from three years prior. Meanwhile, Roku and Amazon Fire TV claim 70% of the market.
Support countries – A Chromecast-enabled app will expose your content to audiences across 11 countries. Affordability – Chromecasts are very affordable. The basic edition is priced at $35 while Chromecast ultra 4K will set consumers back $70.
App discoverability – While Android TV is a fully-fledged operating system, Chromecast simply allows users to stream media from their iOS or Android smartphone, tablet or computer to their TV. It grants easy access to multiple apps, including Google Play, and can even stream content directly from your browser.
Revenue Share – Similar to Android TV, built-in and Chromecast-enabled apps on the Google Play Store must share 30% of revenues (including app purchases and subscriptions) with Google. After 12 months on a paid subscription, this is reduced to 15% of revenues.
Who is Chromecast best for?
Chromecast is a great way to reach Connected TV devices without needing to build a new CTV app. All you have to do is make your existing app Chromecast enabled.
Microsoft’s Xbox One is marketed as an all-in-one entertainment system with thousands of built-in apps as well as movies, music and games for purchase through the Microsoft Store.
Active users – Xbox Live had 65 million monthly active users in the last quarter of 2019. However, Microsoft has not yet released data on the number of users streaming content on the platform, or the type of content users are accessing (TV, video, music, games, etc.)
Market Share – Xbox consoles account for 38% of the worldwide gaming market. In the United States alone, Xbox claims 55% of the market share.
Devices sold – As of January 2020, Microsoft has sold over 46 million Xbox One devices worldwide.
Existing apps/channels – Xbox One comes with hundreds of built-in apps and thousands of downloadable apps delivered through the Universal Windows Platform (UWP).
Growth rate – Active users on Xbox Live grew by 15% between 2018 and 2019. In general, the game streaming market is experiencing rapid growth in the U.S.A, Canada, Australia and China, with moderate growth in the United Kingdom and European markets. It has been predicted that the industry will experience a CAGR of 9% globally.
Supported countries – Xbox One is currently supported in 21 countries.
Price/Affordability – Xbox One is among the most expensive streaming devices on the market, retailing at $499. It faces tough competition from Sony’s Playstation 4, which retails for $399 and is available in more 48 countries. Furthermore, users who want to download and install apps on their console need an Xbox Live Gold Subscription.
App Discoverability – Xbox has an incredibly intuitive interface, and its app store makes discovering apps easy. If users know the name of the app they want to download, they can simply type it into the search bar. Conversely, consumers who simply want to browse can scroll through different categories, such as “Most Popular” or “Best Gaming Apps”. Users can search the Xbox Store using voice commands through a microphone or connected speaker, provided Alexa or Google Assistant has been activated.
Monetization models – OTT Apps on the Microsoft Store can be paid or free. App owners can set up in-app purchases or recurring subscriptions, and earn revenue through advertising. The ads are delivered by Microsoft’s network, although you do have the option to increase ad revenues by configuring your preferred ad networks.
Revenue Share – Microsoft takes 30% of revenues for all app and in-app purchases (including subscriptions) acquired by customers on an Xbox console.
Who is Xbox One best for?
Xbox One is an excellent option for app developers looking to capitalize on the growing trend towards game streaming. It also presents a profitable opportunity for media and entertainment brands in the family-friendly market.
The Final Verdict
Every content distributor wants to grow their viewership and maximize revenue opportunities. Making the final decision on what streaming device to launch your OTT app is a challenging step that’s well worth deliberating over. If you consider nothing else, take into account the platform’s audience size and supported countries.
Consider a Framework Accelerator for Multi-Platform Deployment
We’d recommend starting with Roku or Amazon Fire TV initially, as they have the largest market share and also the ability to reach a global audience. As you grow, consider diversifying your channel across multiple platforms to expand your reach.
Zemoga’s proprietary custom framework accelerator (zTV) can expedite the development of your OTT app no matter what platform you choose. If you are a brand that can invest in multiple platforms, zTV may be the perfect option to expedite your time to market as well as maintain consistent user interfaces from device-to-device.