User behavior shifts as Netflix use on consoles declines, streaming device use rises

While recent surveys are finding that Americans have more streaming devices available to them than ever before, how they use those devices may be shifting--yet again. A recent study by GfK found that the use of game consoles like the Xbox or PlayStation to watch Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) has declined 5 percent since 2013, to 43 percent of the SVOD service's subscribers.

Game console streaming of Netflix is also down 20 percent from 2011, when 62 percent of subscribers used their consoles to watch over-the-top video from the leading service.

Meantime, use of dedicated streaming devices like Apple TV (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google Chromecast (NASDAQ: GOOG) or Roku to watch Netflix is "nearly double" that of 2013, the GfK study found, at 28 percent. That appears to be thanks to a tenfold increase in ownership of such players over the past four years, to 21 percent of subscribers.

In June, GfK surveyed 1,044 U.S. consumers aged 13 to 64 about their video consumption, ownership and use of streaming devices, computers and television, and their awareness and use of TV Everywhere, among other subjects.

Smart TV is also seeing a rise in streaming, climbing 8 percent from last year to 28 percent of subscribers surveyed.

Commenters in a DSL Reports article regarding the study pointed out key reasons why viewers are switching from their consoles to dedicated devices: ease of use, video quality and price. "(I)t's much easier to use chromecast to stream netflix than go through the hurdles of turning on the xbox, using the joystick and the A key to search a movie, etc.," said one commenter.

"I'd rather jump right on with my Roku, as it takes seconds to get to Netflix, since it is always on. We also use Netflix on our Samsung TV more, since it has a hot button for Netflix," another commenter wrote.

And a third commenter pointed out that Chromecast streams Netflix in 1080p, while the older Xbox console does not.

Of course, the price point for streaming devices is another deciding factor: Chromecast retails for $35, competing with Roku's devices in their price range of $49 to $99. Apple TV and Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) Fire TV retail at $99, still well below the $399 price tag for a PlayStation 4  or an Xbox One console.

The shift in preference from multitasking game consoles could bode well for not only dedicated devices, in spite of an increasingly crowded field, and smart TVs, which saw tepid sales at first but may see increased growth as prices continue to drop.

GfK streaming device use

Devices used to access Netflix, by age groups. (Source: GfK)

For more:
- see this GfK release
- DSL Reports has this story

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