While digital media players enable the use of over-the-top streaming video content and other platforms that enhance viewer control, new research suggests that they may also provide a net gain for traditional television program viewing.
According to the findings from the latest market study by GfK, 19 percent of TV viewers now own at least one of the three major digital media players -- Roku Stick, Google Chromecast, or Apple TV. This represents a 10-fold increase over the 2010 ownership level of approximately 2 percent.
Overall, 43 percent to 50 percent (the 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 percent to 42 percent) that use them as a substitute for traditional TV.
Chromecast owners are most likely to report that their digital player usage supplements, rather than replaces, traditional broadcast television viewing.
But roughly one third (38 percent to 29 percent) of digital media player users say they have reduced or eliminated their pay-TV service due to their usage of the devices.
Moreover, Roku device owners are most likely to report cord-slicing or cord-cutting of pay-TV service subscriptions, with Chromecast and Apple TV at essentially the same levels.
In addition, 21 percent to 36 percent 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 specific American television series such as "Sons of Anarchy," "Breaking Bad," and "The Walking Dead."
"Digital media players take a primary role in user viewing behavior, ranking as the first or second destination -- ahead of live TV or DVRs -- when deciding what to watch in prime-time," said David Tice, senior vice president at GfK.
However, according to his assessment, a positive note for linear networks is that digital media player users don't perceive their use as cannibalizing their regular TV viewing.