Digital media players may actually provide a net gain for traditional TV viewing, according to a report by research firm GfK. Overall, up to 50% of owners of digital media players say they use the devices in addition to their regular TV viewing, larger than the proportions (up to 42%) that use them to substitute for traditional TV. Some 19% of TV viewers now own at least 1 of the 3 major digital media players including Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku. That’s a 10-fold increase over the 2010 ownership level (2%). The not-so-good news, however, is that 1/3 of digital media player users say they have reduced or eliminated their pay-TV service due to their usage of the device. Roku owners are most likely to report “cord slicing” or “cord cutting,” with Chromecast and Apple TV at essentially the same levels.

Meanwhile, 21% to 36% 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 series such as “Sons of Anarchy,” “Breaking Bad,” and “The Walking Dead.” “Digital media players take a primary role in users’ viewing behavior, ranking as the first or second destination – ahead of live TV or DVRs – when deciding what to watch in primetime,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President at GfK. “However, a positive note for linear networks is that digital media player users don’t perceive their use as cannibalizing their regular TV viewing.”


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