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Published on February 13th, 2019 | by Brad Gibson


Streaming worldwide jumps 89%; Apple TV falls to 4th in viewing hours, report finds

Streaming TV consumption globally has jumped a massive 89 percent year-on-year, as Apple’s Apple TV feel from third place to fourth place among hours viewed on streaming devices in 2018, according to media casting measurement service Conviva.

In its year-ending 2018 report on streaming, data collected directly from thousands of streaming devices showed a huge 165 percent increase in streaming just in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to the prior year. The number of video plays rose 74 percent for the year and 143 percent just in the quarter.

Live events were not only responsible for the biggest spikes in viewing, but the scale of viewership raised overall streaming numbers nationally and globally in 2018, the data found.

In terms of devices used, Conviva found Roku had the highest usage levels at 41 percent of viewer hours – a jump of 17 percent from 2017, followed by Amazon’s Fire TV at 18 percent. For Fire TV, it was the biggest jump among all devices, up five spots from their 7th position last year. The Xbox placed third at 11 percent, with PlayStation Vue and the Apple TV tied for fourth at 9 percent each. Apple fell from third place in 2017 with its usage share increasing only one percent.

conviva_2018_1The report showed the quality of streamed TV content was significantly better in 2018. There were 34 percent fewer video start failures with 23 percent better picture quality. Videos started nine percent faster while buffering improved 23 percent.

But there was some negative news as well. While buffering improved, people watching an hour-long program waited 25 seconds in pause due to buffering issues. As a result, there was a 7 percent year-on-year increase in viewers abandoning a stream as a result of delays. That meant 14.6 percent of viewers gave up on a stream before the video had even begun. Making matters worse, abandoning rates were even higher – up 16.7 percent from 11.2 percent – when viewers were attempting to watch live content.

For the devices that delivered the best quality in 2018, connected TV or otherwise, PlayStation had the least buffering at a stellar .21 percent. Apple TV delivered the highest picture quality of any device at 6.8 Mbps, a particularly impressive feat considering the time for the video to start was also the shortest of any device at 2.29 seconds. Typically this is an inverse relationship, with the higher the picture quality, the longer the start time required for the video to load.

Consumers are buying and watching fewer streaming hours on standalone devices like Apple TV, the data found. Connected TVs are taking the lead, with 148 percent growth in plays and 56 percent share in viewing hours, up from 47 percent year-on-year. 

Across all types of content, nearly a third of global viewing hours were watched on the weekends in 2018, with Sunday being the most popular day. Fridays were the least popular day of the week for overall streaming.

Conviva’s data is collected using proprietary sensor technology, which is embedded directly within three billion video applications streaming on devices globally and currently measures one trillion data events per day across its customer base.

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as,,,, and He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the AOL, the BBC, Associated Press, and United Press International.

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