Roku hits 10 million sales milestone

Roku's streaming-media boxes are among the most popular in a growing field of rivals, but the rare glimpses of its sales suggest some slowing momentum.

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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Since February, Roku has sold 2 million devices, including the $50 Roku Streaming Sticks introduced in March CNET

Roku has sold 10 million of its streaming devices in its lifetime, climbing a rung higher on the milestone ladder from the 8 million it reported in January.

That compares to the 20 million Apple has sold as of April of its rival Apple TV since its launch in 2007.

The market for so-called "over-the-top" boxes -- devices that connect to your television to stream video and music from the Internet -- has bloomed, with the two forebears Roku and Apple TV joined by the popular $35 Chromecast dongle from Google and Amazon's Fire TV. Sparking the interest is video's migration to the Internet, exemplified by Netflix, huge streaming audiences for live events like World Cup matches, and efforts by Sony and Dish create a fully Internet-delivered TV service. But the opportunity in the sector means greater competition, and power shifts could easily shuffle who leads the pack.

Since Roku's last update on its sales, the company has introduced its Streaming Stick, a $50 Chromecast-like dongle, but the competition may be beginning to show. Roku's additional 2 million in sales in less than nine months compares with the 3 million device sales it booked between April 2013 and January, about the same duration of time.

Apple, on the other hand, sold 7 million of its boxes in just under a year. The sales come despite Apple's continual neglect of the product line, which hasn't had a refresh to a new generation in more than two years. But Apple sells the boxes globally, while Roku's sales are predominantly in the US plus Canada, the UK and Ireland. (Google and Amazon haven't disclosed sales figures on their devices.)

Roku, however, often refers to research that indicates its boxes are used more than rivals' if they're not sold more than them. Roku noted an study conducted on its that behalf by researcher NPD that found Roku accounted for 37 million hours of video streamed per week, versus Apple TV's 15 million, Chromecast's 12 million, and Amazon Fire TV's at 6 million hours. A recent Parks Associates also found Roku is used more regularly than rivals like Apple TV.

The company also said Roku players average 48 hours of streamed content a month. That compares to less than 20 hours spent on Facebook, based on Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's disclosure in July that people in the US spend about 40 minutes a day with the social network.