U.S. total of streaming video devices topped 1 billion last year

The total number of streaming-video-capable devices in the U.S. topped 10 figures in 2021 and will exceed 1.1 billion by 2025, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported.

In a research note S&P said much of the credit for those one-billion-and-counting totals goes to a surge in connected-TV ownership — from 107.7 million sets in 2016, to 191.8 million in 2021 to a forecast 274.2 million in 2026.

That rate far outstrips the growth of broadband-enabled households, from 98.3 million in 2016 to 118.1 million in 2021 to a predicted 134.4 million in 2026.

“Of the devices in our analysis, smart TVs have the highest growth potential as vendors and end users fully embrace online platforms for their primary viewing,” wrote analysts Milan Alexis Ringol and Neil Barbour. They predict a 7.4% compound annual growth rate for the category through 2026.


Streaming-media players and smaller streaming sticks, tracked as separate categories in the report, have traditionally been tight competition for connected TVs. A survey released in October by Hub Entertainment Research found that 44% of U.S. households had both a connected TV and a separate streaming-media player.

But S&P expects their share will shrivel in the coming years from 2021’s installed-base figures of 60.1 million streaming sticks and 42.7 million streaming players. As the two analysts wrote: “Streaming media players and sticks still have some opportunity to grow as a low-cost way to upgrade an older TV set, but leading smart TV vendors' focus on proprietary FAST services will incentivize hardware solutions with long-term potential, offsetting the need for external devices.”

S&P sees a smaller decline in store for game consoles, with their numbers expected to rise from 2021’s 84.5 million to hit a 2023 peak of 90 million and then ebb to 83.4 million in 2026. The report attributes that to cloud-gaming services reducing the need for dedicated gaming consoles.

Smartphones will remain the most widely-installed gadget capable of playing streaming video, but with 303.1 million phones in the market in 2022 (compared to a U.S. population of about 333 million), that market is nearing saturation. S&P expects that the smartphone installed base will now track population growth, leading to its estimate of just 1.1% compound annual growth rate for that category through 2026.

The rest of the connected-video universe consists of desktops and laptops (168.4 million in 2021) and tablets (164.1 million in 2021), each seen showing barely-above-flat growth through 2026.