As streaming surges globally, Roku is falling behind abroad

The streaming device maker is strong in the U.S., but it has some catching up to do in other markets.

Streaming services

Conviva's report shows that some of the pandemic-related viewing trends of 2020 are here to stay.

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Getty Images

Roku continues to rule streaming in the U.S., but is falling behind in other markets, according to a new report from streaming media intelligence company Conviva. The company's latest "State of Streaming" report shows that Roku is losing out to smart TV makers like Samsung and LG, with smart TV usage seeing significant uptick across the globe.

The report also shows that some of the pandemic-related viewing trends of 2020 are here to stay: Viewing has shifted from mobile to the big screen, from prime time to anytime and from live to on demand, with little indication that the growth in streaming and overall internet traffic has led to any significant negative impact on video quality.

streaming growth Streaming is growing worldwide, but has largely matured in North America.Image: Conviva

Global video viewing time grew 36% worldwide in Q1 when compared to Q1 of 2020. The streaming market is showing some signs of maturity in North America, where viewing was up just 18%. South America on the other hand saw viewing grow by a whopping 240% year-over-year, followed by Africa with 149% and Europe with 122%. "We are seeing pretty considerable growth in other markets," Conviva CEO Bill Demas said in a conversation with Protocol this week.

Turns out those markets also have very different device usage trends: 37% of all big-screen viewing was happening on Roku streaming devices and Roku-powered smart TVs in the U.S., but the company's usage share in South America amounted to just 4%.

smart tv market share Roku is strong in North America, but has surprisingly low usage in Europe and South America.Image: Conviva

Surprisingly strong in South America were Samsung and LG, which were able to capture 30% and 23% of big-screen streaming, respectively. In North America, those two companies accounted for a combined share of just 14% of all big-screen streaming, according to Conviva.

Roku began selling devices in Brazil last year, and has been in other Latin American countries as well as parts of Europe for a few years now. However, the company's European business didn't have much of an impact this past quarter, either, amounting just 8% of all big-screen streaming.

And while streaming on TVs has been surging in overseas markets, Roku has been slower than some of its competitors to capture those eyeballs. "We are not seeing them benefit from that," said Conviva's marketing director, Paula Mantle Winkel. Roku's global share of big-screen viewing time fell from 33% in Q1 of 2020 to 30% in Q1 of 2021, according to the company's report.

It's worth pointing out that Conviva doesn't track device sales. Instead, the company is using analytics code embedded in 3.3 billion streaming apps to crunch the date on viewing behavior from 500 million viewers globally, which collectively viewed some 180 billion streams last year.

live vs on demand viewing On-demand viewing is seeing a lot more growth than live video.Image: Conviva

Using that lens, Conviva was also able to take a closer look at the general viewing behavior of audiences around the globe. The result: Lots of the behavior we learned during the height of the pandemic has seemed to stick. Even with sports back, on-demand viewing is growing faster than live viewing, and accounted for 76% of global viewing time in Q1, compared to 72% during the same quarter a year ago.

And with everyone watching on their own time, the traditional TV schedule has gone out of the window. "Prime time changed," Demas said. People who used to watch from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. now increasingly tune in any time from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

But even with the growth in streaming, it hasn't actually led to the kinds of network congestion everyone worried about at the onset of the pandemic. Smart TVs in particular showed less buffering and improved bitrates than just a year ago. "Those fears turned out to be not terribly founded," Winkel said.

Workplace

Netflix’s layoffs reveal a larger diversity challenge in tech

Netflix just laid off 150 full-time employees and a number of agency contractors. Many of them were the company’s most marginalized employees.

It quickly became clear that many of the laid-off contractors possessed marginalized identities.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

After Netflix’s first round of layoffs, there was a brief period of relief for the contractors who ran Netflix’s audience-oriented social media channels, like Strong Black Lead, Most and Con Todo. But the calm didn’t last.

Last week, Netflix laid off 150 full-time employees and a number of agency contractors. The customary #opentowork posts flooded LinkedIn, many coming from impacted members of Netflix’s talent and recruiting teams. A number of laid-off social media contractors also took to Twitter to share the news. It quickly became clear that similar to the layoffs at Tudum, Netflix’s entertainment site, many of the affected contractors possessed marginalized identities. The channels they ran focused on Black, LGBTQ+, Latinx and Asian audiences, among others.

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

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.

Fintech

Crypto doesn’t have to be red or blue

Sens. Cynthia Lummis and Kirsten Gillibrand are backing bipartisan legislation that establishes regulatory clarity for cryptocurrencies. This is the right way to approach a foundational technology.

"Crypto doesn’t neatly fall along party lines because, as a foundational technology, it is — or should be — inherently nonpartisan," says Diogo Mónica, co-founder and president of Anchorage Digital.

Photo: Anchorage Digital

Diogo Mónica is president and co-founder of Anchorage Digital.

When I moved from Portugal to the United States to work at Square, it was hard to wrap my head around the two-party system that dominates American politics. As I saw at home, democracies, by their very nature, can be messy. But as an outsider looking in, I can’t help but worry that the ever-widening gap between America’s two major parties looms over crypto’s future.

Keep Reading Show less
Diogo Mónica
Diogo Mónica is the co-founder and president of Anchorage Digital, the premier digital asset platform for institutions. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the Technical University of Lisbon, and has worked in software security for over 15 years. As an early employee at Square, he helped build security architecture that now moves $100 billion annually. At Docker, he helped secure core infrastructure used in global banks, governments and the three largest cloud providers.
Fintech

What downturn? A16z raises $4.5 billion for latest crypto fund

The new fund is more than double the $2.2 billion fund the VC firm raised just last June.

A16z general partner Arianna Simpson said that despite the precipitous drop in crypto prices in recent months, the firm is looking to stay active in the market and isn’t worried about short-term price changes.

Photo: Andreessen Horowitz

Andreessen Horowitz has raised $4.5 billion for two crypto venture funds. They’re the industry’s largest ever and represent an outsized bet on the future of Web3 startups, even with the industry in the midst of a steep market downturn.

The pool of money is technically two separate funds: a $1.5 billion fund for seed deals and a $3 billion fund for broader venture deals. That’s more than other megafunds recently raised by competitors such as Paradigm and Haun Ventures.

Keep Reading Show less
Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.

Entertainment

How Amazon built its kid-focused Glow video calling projector

Robots, laser pointers, talking stuffies: Amazon’s devices team went through many iterations while developing its very first interactive projection device.

The Amazon Glow is the first interactive projection device sold by Amazon, and it could be a stepping stone for the company to use the technology in other areas.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Cats love chasing laser pointers. So why not have kids do the same?

When a small team within Amazon’s devices group began exploring the idea of a kid-focused video calling device nearly five years ago, they toyed with a lot of far-out ideas, a laser pointer controlled by an adult calling from afar being one of them. The suggestion was quickly dismissed over eye safety concerns, but it did lead the team down a path exploring projection technologies.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Latest Stories
Bulletins