Netflix viewing on digital media players surges in U.S.

Friday, September 26th, 2014
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How people watch Netflix on TV: Digital media players surge, while videogame systems lose ground

A growing number of US households are relying on dedicated set-top/plug-in devices (a.k.a., digital media players) to watch Netflix on a TV set, according to a new GfK study, Over-the-Top TV 2014. By contrast, videogame systems – while still the most common hardware for Netflix viewing on a TV screen – are used much less than they were three years ago.

The report shows that 28% of those who stream Netflix on a TV used a digital media player (such as Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast) to do so; this is nearly double the 2013 level (15%) and roughly five times the 2011 figure (6%). The surge comes as ownership of the players among all homes has increased tenfold – from 2% to 21% — since 2010.

Streaming capabilities built into today’s higher-end TV sets have also become popular, with use of built-in streaming reported by 28% of those who watch Netflix on TV — up from 20% a year ago and 13% in 2011.
On the other hand, reports of watching Netflix on TV through a videogame system have dropped to 43% — down 5 percentage points from 2013, and almost 20 points below the 2011 level (62%).

The new report shows wide generational differences in how people access Netflix. Generations X and Y are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to use a videogame system to watch Netflix on TV (See Table 1). Capabilities built into TV sets are highly favored by Gen Y Netflix viewers, and both Generations X and Y show strong use of digital media players.

“The wide variations in devices used – and in preferred device by age – speak to a need for Netflix and other SVOD providers to optimize the user experience for each situation,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President at GfK and author of the report. “Not only do the device interface and remote control need to be user-friendly, but things like on-screen font size and menus need to be age-appropriate. With a quarter of Netflix users also being Amazon Prime or Hulu viewers, there is a potential battle in user experience as well as in variety and exclusivity of content.”


% of those who watch Netflix on a TV set, 2014*

                                                 GenX   GenY  Boomers
                                                13-34  35-48    49-64
                                                -----  -----  -------
Through videogame system hooked up to a TV         47     42       19
Through capability built into the TV set           19     44       34
Through digital media player hooked up to a TV     27     34       20
Through Blu-ray player hooked up to a TV           18     16       20

* can use multiple devices and thus sum to over 100%>Gen X 13-34 GenY 35-48 Boomers 49-64

The new report, Over-the-Top TV 2014, is based on interviews with 1,044 US consumers, ages 13 to 64, during June 2014, and also features five years of trends — 2010 to 2014. Other topics covered in the study include:

  • Overall video consumption
  • Ownership and use of HDTVs, DVRs, DVD players and other technologies
  • Viewing on computers
  • Mobile viewing via tablets and smartphones
  • VOD and SVOD
  • TV Everywhere awareness and use