NewYork, 17.11.2016

Most Digital Media Players Co-Exist with Traditional Pay-TV Service

Consumers increasingly see digital players as complementing cable, satellite service – GfK’s Home Technology Monitor

With opportunities to access TV content becoming almost infinite – dozens of services now offer anywhere/anytime access – viewers’ reasons for buying and using digital media players are shifting.

According to GfK’s The Home Technology Monitor™, 64% of digital media player owners report that at least one of their players is connected to a TV that also has traditional pay TV service. (The research shows that 27% of owners have two or more of the players.)

For this study, GfK focused on the top four players – Apple TV, Roku, Google’s Chromecast, and Amazon’s Fire TV – which account for 90% of the market.

Owners of digital media players are now more likely to say that they use the devices as “an addition to regular TV broadcasts” – 58% in 2016, versus 45% for the same study in 2014. And the proportion who say they view their digital players as “replacement(s) for regular broadcasts” has dropped, from 40% to 29%. (Note: Fire TV is not included in trend comparisons because it was not measured in 2014.)

In addition, fewer digital media player owners are reporting that having the devices has led them to eliminate traditional pay-TV (cable or satellite) service – with the 2014 level of 17% dropping to 13%. Levels of reducing (“shaving”) cord service have remained basically constant since 2014.

Table 1. Things users like best about their digital media players





Apple TV


Fire TV

(2016 Only)

Convenience (net)37%/47%36%48%41%39%


Variety/selection (net)37%/25%14%/11%21%23%42%

Features (net)





Alternative to cable*


*Not asked in 2014

“Variety/selection” has grown in importance as something Roku and Chromecast users like about their digital players, while “Convenience” has become less crucial as a benefit. (See Table 1 for more details.) Reasons for liking Apple TV have remained more constant compared to the other two – and, for all four devices, levels of seeing them as “alternative(s) to cable” are quite low. 

The #1 weekly activity across all four players is “Watching TV programs,” and “Watching movies” is #2 – even though levels for these activities have dropped since 2014 for Roku and Apple TV. Chromecast users report roughly the same levels of TV program and movie viewing as they did two years ago. 

Owners of Apple TV and Chromecast say that watching live TV (via cable, satellite, or over the air) is still their first choice when sitting down to view movies or TV in primetime. By contrast, Fire TV and Roku users say that they turn to their digital media players first in primetime, with live TV being a second choice.

“The world of connectedness and content viewing has changed dramatically just in the past two years,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President of Media & Entertainment at GfK. “Once seen as simple enablers of cord cutting, digital media players have become TV service and viewing enhancers for consumers who apparently can never have too much content. Fire TV has kept the digital player market hot, creating fresh competition and interest from consumers, and we expect to see more growth as all the main players introduce improvements and new features.”  

The “Digital Media Players 2016” report from GfK’s The Home Technology Monitor™ is based on interviews with 804 owners of at least one of the four main devices, with 200-plus active users for each brand of player. The report also offers, for each device:
• extensive user profiles
• app presence and use
• types of content viewed
• locations in the home
• likes and dislikes
• ownership of multiple digital media players

About GfK

GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.

For more information, please visit or follow GfK on Twitter.

Latest Press Releases

View all Press