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Sarah Tew/CNET

Roku beats Google, Amazon and Apple with streaming users

The little company slays tech giants with more than 38 million streaming device users in 2017.

Roku may not have the reach or stature of a tech colossus, but it's more popular for streaming.

A report by eMarketer finds that among Americans who use a streaming device at least once a month in 2017, 38.9 million will use a Roku. That number of users beats Google Chromecast, the 2016 champ, as well as Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.

The report predicts Roku will continue to expand in popularity, capturing 23.2 percent of streaming device users in 2017 and more than a third in 2021.

"As the only major market participant not affiliated with a content or TV device platform, Roku has used its neutrality to strike deals with a wide range of partners, including smart TV makers, OTT service providers and social media companies," said Paul Verna, principal video analyst at eMarketer in a statement.

The number of Roku device users will be dwarfed, however, by the number of people in 2017 who stream via smart TVs (81.2 million) and game consoles (62.8 million). 

In a related announcement, market research firm NPD says Chinese TV maker TCL is now ranked fifth in unit sales in 2017, on the strength of 72 percent year-over-year growth. "Our award-winning TCL Roku TVs have raised the bar for the smart TV experience," says Chris Larson, Senior Vice President at TCL. The company's Roku TVs also continue to top Amazon's best sellers list.

Roku remains CNET's favorite streaming platform, whether on devices like the Streaming Stick or TVs like the TCL P series. We laud its ease of use as well as the even playing field it presents for all content and apps.