Streaming device wars: Smart TV viewing time surges, dongles see first-ever decline

Google was the biggest winner in 2021, while Apple, Amazon and the console makers all saw their market share slip.


Dongles used to be the easiest way to get streaming onto TVs. Now, consumers turn to smart TVs with embedded apps instead.

Image: Roku/Protocol

The growing popularity of smart TVs is starting to have an impact on the usage of streaming dongles and other TV-connected devices: Global viewership of streaming devices declined by 2% between Q4 2020 and Q4 2021, according to a new report from streaming analytics company Conviva. Smart TVs saw their usage grow by 37% during the same time frame.

Not all device-makers were equally affected by the surge of smart TV viewing. Sony and Microsoft saw the biggest declines in streaming usage for their respective consoles, which were down 12% and 19% year-over-year, respectively. Streaming usage for Amazon’s devices was down 7%, while Apple TVs saw a decline of 1% year-over-year. Roku, on the other hand, saw 12% growth, while Google’s Android TV platform saw viewing hours grow a whopping 42% year-over-year.

“Everybody is in a hyper-competitive mode right now,” said Conviva President and CEO Keith Zubchevich. “You’re seeing a lot of market share shift because competition is increasing.”

Conviva Q4 2021 streaming data Streaming device trends in 2021: Android TV, LG and Samsung gained, console-makers and Amazon lost.Image: Conviva

As in previous reports, Conviva once again observed huge regional differences. In North America, Roku was able to capture 41% of big-screen viewing time. However, in Europe and South America, Roku’s share was only 5%, pointing to continued challenges for the company’s international strategy.

Also worth noting: While Google has seen massive growth for its smart TV efforts, its global market share is still comparably small. Altogether, Chromecast and Android TV captured just 11.2% of global viewing hours.

Both Samsung and LG saw some significant gains in 2021, with global viewing hours up 27% and 36%, respectively. One major reason for this is the global chip shortage and its uneven effects on regional manufacturing. While Chinese smart TV makers were struggling to replenish empty shelves last year, their South Korean counterparts fared comparably better.

LG's and Samsung’s growth happens just as all eyes are on Asia in the streaming space: Netflix executives have been vocal about their desire to grow their market share in India, where the company reduced its price in December. Korea, on the other hand, has been a huge boon for Netflix, with “Squid Game” becoming the service’s biggest global success story to date last year.

Streaming patterns seem to be undergoing significant shifts in Asia as well. While mobile viewing has long been the primary consumption mode in Asia, TV-based streaming actually grew from 14% to 27% from Q3 to Q4 of 2021 alone — suggesting that the “Squid Game” effect may actually have long-lasting consequences in Asian markets that could ultimately benefit Netflix and services like it.

Conviva has gathered the data for its latest report with the help from a number of major streaming services, which have embedded the company’s analytics technology in their apps. The company’s total app install base is north of 4 billion, with 500 million viewers worldwide streaming 200 billion Conviva-tracked streams every year.


The tools that make you pay for not getting stuff done

Some tools let you put your money on the line for productivity. Should you bite?

Commitment contracts are popular in a niche corner of the internet, and the tools have built up loyal followings of people who find the extra motivation effective.

Photoillustration: Anna Shvets/Pexels; Protocol

Danny Reeves, CEO and co-founder of Beeminder, is used to defending his product.

“When people first hear about it, they’re kind of appalled,” Reeves said. “Making money off of people’s failure is how they view it.”

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

Sponsored Content

Foursquare data story: leveraging location data for site selection

We take a closer look at points of interest and foot traffic patterns to demonstrate how location data can be leveraged to inform better site selecti­on strategies.

Imagine: You’re the leader of a real estate team at a restaurant brand looking to open a new location in Manhattan. You have two options you’re evaluating: one site in SoHo, and another site in the Flatiron neighborhood. Which do you choose?

Keep Reading Show less

Elon Musk has bots on his mind.

Photo: Christian Marquardt/Getty Images

Elon Musk says he needs proof that less than 5% of Twitter's users are bots — or the deal isn't going ahead.

Keep Reading Show less
Jamie Condliffe

Jamie Condliffe ( @jme_c) is the executive editor at Protocol, based in London. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, he worked on the business desk at The New York Times, where he edited the DealBook newsletter and wrote Bits, the weekly tech newsletter. He has previously worked at MIT Technology Review, Gizmodo, and New Scientist, and has held lectureships at the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. He also holds a doctorate in engineering from the University of Oxford.


Nobody will help Big Tech prevent online terrorism but itself

There’s no will in Congress or the C-suites of social media giants for a new approach, but smaller platforms would have room to step up — if they decided to.

Timothy Kujawski of Buffalo lights candles at a makeshift memorial as people gather at the scene of a mass shooting at Tops Friendly Market at Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street on Sunday, May 15, 2022 in Buffalo, NY. The fatal shooting of 10 people at a grocery store in a historically Black neighborhood of Buffalo by a young white gunman is being investigated as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism, according to federal officials.

Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The shooting in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 people over the weekend has put the spotlight back on social media companies. Some of the attack was livestreamed, beginning on Amazon-owned Twitch, and the alleged shooter appears to have written about how his racist motivations arose from misinformation on smaller or fringe sites including 4chan.

In response, policymakers are directing their anger at tech platforms, with New York Governor Kathy Hochul calling for the companies to be “more vigilant in monitoring” and for “a legal responsibility to ensure that such hate cannot populate these sites.”

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

We're answering all your questions about the crypto crash.

Photo: Chris Liverani/Unsplash

People started talking about another crypto winter in January, when falling prices had wiped out $1 trillion in value from November’s peak. Prices rallied back in March, restoring some of the losses. Then crypto fell hard again, with bitcoin down more than 60% from its all-time high and other cryptocurrencies harder hit. The market’s message was clear: Crypto winter was no longer coming. It’s here.

If you’ve got questions about the crypto crash, the Protocol Fintech team has answers.

Keep Reading Show less
Latest Stories