Streaming Media Device Shipments Drop, Ending 7 Years of Growth

(Image credit: Pixabay)

NEW YORK—Seven years of growth in the global shipments of streaming media devices (SMD) has come to an end, with shipments declining 8% to about 28.6 million in Q4 2021, according to Kagan, the media research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Kagan attributed the drop to a lack of new hardware as well as heightened pandemic-fueled demand from a year earlier at the end of 2020. 

Even so, the overall global SMD installed base grew 7.6% in 2021 to 232.5 million, Kagan reported. 

U.S. shipments fell 10.2% year over year to 12.8 million. 

Kagan reported that the U.S. is the most mature streaming hardware market, and is more reliant than other regions on upgrades for older devices and home theater enthusiasts seeking the latest feature set. As a result, the lack of markedly improved hardware had a more pronounced impact in the U.S. than on the global stage, Kagan said. 

(Image credit: Kagan)

While Inc. remained the largest global vendor by shipments, with its wide geographic footprint and array of price points, it was not immune to the cooldown. Kagan estimates that fourth quarter Amazon SMD shipments fell 3% to 7.5 million units.

Roku Inc. overtook Alphabet Inc. to become the second-largest global vendor in the quarter even after falling an estimated 4.3% year over year to 6.6 million units. 

The quarterly decline in shipments across the major vendors contributed to an annual global decline of 2% in 2021, marking the first drop in Kagan’s annual SMD data set, which stretches back to 2013.

Amazon remained the global leader in terms of installed base. At the No. 2 spot, Roku outpaced Alphabet by a healthy margin. 

(Image credit: Kagan)

(Image credit: Kagan)
George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.