A new report from research firm Parks Associates finds that competition is heating up among streaming media player sales with four key players accounting for 94 percent of sales.

Plus, the number of broadband homes with at least one such player is surging as more consumers are signing up for streaming services over the Internet to either replace or augment traditional cable offerings.

Over the past year, the percentage of homes with high-speed Internet where streaming media players are used has surged to 36 percent from 27 percent in 2014, Parks reported this week at a conference.

Roku leads in market share at 30 percent while Amazon has climbed into a virtual second place tie with Google at 22 percent.

Apple sales climbed to 20 percent.

So why are sales climbing?

Noted Barbara Kraus, Director of Research at Parks Associates: “Device makers have successfully sold streaming media players to consumers by offering easy access to a variety of content streams, as well as frequent updates that add the latest innovation.

“Amazon in particular has benefited by promoting its Fire TV devices in conjunction with the company’s Prime Video service as well as streams from HBO, Showtime, and other premium offerings.”

Driven by new devices, Apple TV sales climbed 50 percent in 2015.

However, Roku’s variety and that of Amazon remains an advantage, according to the report.

“Roku and Amazon benefit from multiple form factors – both offer boxes and sticks,” Kraus said. “Sticks accounted for 50% of all unit sales in 2015. Approximately one-third of Roku sales were sticks, and roughly three-quarters of Amazon sales were sticks. Apple and Roku were essentially tied for selling the most boxes, but Roku is expanding its base with the additional form factor.”

Over the next three years, Parks Associates forecasts that sales will climb t0 86 million around the world.

More competition coming

However, the four leaders can’t rest on their laurels.

“The four major players could soon see expanded competition as Rovi recently acquired DVR pioneer TiVo to bring together two sizable entertainment-tech companies with strong streaming technologies and expertise,” Parks notes.

TiVo is the owner of Durham-based Digitalsmiths, by the way.

All are players in the so-called OTT industry, seeking to bypass traditional cable services.

“[I]t is clear we are seeing an OTT industry that is extremely volatile, a product of the rapidly changing market space, and players are experimenting with new ways to slice and sell content,” said Glenn Hower, Research Analyst at Parks Associates.

“For emerging services, churn is going to be an ongoing issue as they experiment with new bundles and content offerings. The OTT market has low barriers to entry, but service providers need to generate revenue to remain relevant and in business. Access to content, content distribution knowledge, and investment capability for streaming solutions are the primary requirements for aspiring OTT video providers, but ultimately they need to keep subscribers in order to survive.”