Google's Chromecast: Holding market share, losing viewers

Google's $35 streaming-video TV dongle is holding its market position but usage is dropping, according to data from Parks Associates.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Joan E. Solsman
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Good news, bad news for Google: Chromecast is holding onto its slice of the streaming-video device market even as new rivals like Amazon's Kindle Fire TV emerge, but Chromecast is being used less and less, according to new data.

As demand for video online increases and accessibility to TV on the Internet expands, more device makers are jumping into the market for over-the-top streaming-video devices that beam Internet video to the big screen in the living room. Though every new device launch improves mainstream awareness of these devices -- a rising tide that lifts all boats -- data from market researcher Parks Associates suggest some devices may be swimming and others starting to sink.

Ownership of streaming media players -- like Chromecast, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku -- have increased to nearly 20 percent of U.S. broadband households from 14 percent in 2012, Parks Associates reported Tuesday. While Chromecast ownership is steady at about 6 percent of US homes, monthly online video watching through it dropped to 73 percent from 78 percent in the third quarter, according to the firm's first-quarter survey of 10,000 US broadband households. Monthly usage to view Web pages declined to 57 percent from 76 percent.

"Streaming media players are starting to play a bigger role in home entertainment, but interest in new entry Google Chromecast is waning," John Barrett, director of Parks consumer analytics, said in a release.

Google declined to comment on the data.

After Chromecast was released last July, it quickly sold out of the three official online purveyors selling it, and it enjoyed a No. 1 position on Amazon's list of electronics best sellers for much of last year after it was released in July.

Brett Sappington, Parks director of research, noted the low price of Google's $35 dongle meant many consumers purchased and began experimenting with one, producing high initial use. "Over time, however, owners developed a better understanding of Chromecast's usefulness and appropriate niche in the video-viewing environment. Some continue to use Chromecast regularly, while others are choosing different options to get online video to their televisions," he said.

Google shares were recently 84 cents lower, or less than one percentage point, at $561.28.