Amazon Fire TV tops 34 million users, potentially widening its lead over Roku

Amazon Fire TV’s lead over rival streaming platform Roku is widening. In January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Amazon said it had “well over” 30 million Fire TV users compared with Roku’s then 27 million active users. In roughly four months’ time, Fire TV has grown to more than 34 million active users, according to new statements made by Amazon this week. Meanwhile, Roku grew its account base by 2 million in the first quarter of 2019, to reach 29.1 million active accounts, per its earnings report this month.

The new figures for Amazon Fire TV were shared yesterday by Fire TV GM and global head of Marketing, Growth & Engagement, Jen Prenner, at the Pay TV Show during a panel titled “The Battle for Your Living Room: Sticks, Boxes, and Smart TV Platforms.”

Amazon also claims that Fire TV has grown to become the No. 1 streaming media player platform in the U.S., U.K., Germany, India and Japan, thanks to its strong sales momentum.

When Amazon first announced its user number at CES, there was some question as to how those figures were calculated. Roku typically defines an “active” account as one that has streamed through its platform over the past 30 days. Amazon, at the time, had only spoken about users more generally, without characterizing them as “actives.”

However, yesterday’s comments referenced “active users,” Amazon says, not just a total number of users.

Roku notes that its active account figures may include a family with multiple people (i.e. several “users”) — something it wants to note because of how the newly reported growth figures make it look. And until Amazon chooses to define how it determines an active user, it’s not possible to fully understand how to compare the two. Update: However, Fire TV devices today are registered to one person’s Amazon user’s account information. Once set up, it’s certainly possible for multiple people to watch the same Fire TV device. And if they’re not switching profiles, then Amazon — like Roku — wouldn’t have a way to track individual user data either.

Update, 5/15/19 3:45 PM: Amazon confirmed it measures “users” the exact same way Roku measures “accounts.”

Roku dominated U.S. streaming player market share last year, but Fire TV has likely gained ground internationally. Today, the Fire TV ships worldwide to a wide range of countries, all of which can use the device to stream Prime Video content. Roku, meanwhile, ships to a couple dozen countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France and parts of Latin America. However, Roku last year had to stop sales in Mexico until it addressed issues involving access to pirated content, which were only resolved in October.

Fire TV also benefits from Amazon’s frequent and steep discounts on its hardware devices — including those over the holiday shopping period, where Fire TV Stick became a best seller. It’s been known to sell devices at cost or below, in an effort to gain market share. Plus, today’s consumers may be drawn to Fire TV because of its built-in access to Alexa — something that makes it one of the cheapest ways to get the popular voice assistant into the home.

Amazon is focused this year on expanding access to content and Alexa voice controls on Fire TV. On the content front, it recently came to an agreement with Google that allows it to finally bring YouTube to Fire TV, and following that, YouTube TV and YouTube Kids. It also has plans to support both Disney+ and Apple TV+ later this year, the company says.

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