streaming videoThe number of U.S. connected TV users will continue to grow at a double-digit rate this year, rising 10.1% from 2016’s level. Smart TVs actually connected to the Internet will be the single largest category, according to eMarketer.

In sum, 168.1 million people in the U.S. will use an Internet-connected TV device of one type or another come year-end. Smart TV users will account for nearly half, totaling 81.2 million users. That would be up a sharp 30.8% year-over-year, eMarketer highlights.

U.S. Connected TV Users
Rising faster than expected, the actual number of smart TV users connecting their sets to the Internet has led eMarketer to dial down its forecasts for other types of connected TV devices. “Essentially, more people are buying smart TVs than previously anticipated, which holds back demand for third-part connectivity devices,” commented principal video analyst Paul Verna.

Nonetheless, the growth of connected TV device usage continues to be robust. For example, the market research provider estimates that 38.9 million Americans will use a Roku device at least once a month, up 19.3% as compared to 2016’s level, a market share eMarketer expects to rise to 23.1% of all connected TV users.

“As the only major market participant not affiliated with a content or TV device platform, Roku has used its neutrality to strike deals with a wide range of partners, including smart TV makers, over-the-top (OTT) service providers and social media companies,” Verna noted. “That expansive strategy, combined with the company’s broad selection of connectivity devices at various price points, has put Roku at the head of the pack.”

eMarketer cautions that some degree of overlap exists in the market data as some end users and households make use of more than one connected TV streaming device.

U.S. Connected TV UsersChromecast is Roku’s closest competitor. eMarketer predicts Google’s connected TV streaming device will capture 22.0% of the U.S. market by year-end, some 36.9 million users. Amazon Fire TV will follow in third place with a 21.3% market share, or 35.8 million users.

Apple TV will run a distant fourth, eMarketer says, with a combined 21.3 million users, good for a 12.7% share of the U.S. market. Looking further ahead, eMarketer expects Apple TV will fall further behind, adding less than 4 million new users by 2021 as compared to between 20 million and 30 million that will be added by the top three market leaders.

Commenting further, Verna said: “Apple TV has been held back by the absence of a compelling content offering, a lack of support for increasingly popular Amazon video content and a much higher price bracket than its competitors.”

“Apple TV devices currently start at $150, whereas Google, Amazon and Roku all sell streaming sticks that are priced well below $40.”

Back in April, LRG Research highlighted that, by its count, the number of connected TV devices in use in U.S. households surpassed that of pay-TV set-top boxes. According to LRG, there was more than one connected TV device in a large majority of U.S. connected TV households – a mean of 2.1 connected TV devices in each as compared to a mean of 1.8 pay-TV set-top boxes.