Updated. HBO’s decision to offer its programming via a standalone streaming service seems to be paying off: The network’s HBO Now app is now the fourth-most-installed third-party app on Roku streaming devices, according to new data released by Shodan, a search engine for internet-connected devices.
HBO Now’s app is trailing Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, and is closely followed by Showtime’s standalone video service. However, another category of content services is notably amiss from the top 10 of most-installed third-party apps: TV Everywhere services. HBO’s own HBO Go service ranks 15th, FoxNow comes in at number 19, and WatchESPN even ranks 22nd.
Roku disputed these findings after Variety first published this story, with a spokesperson telling us that the install base of an app “don’t necessarily reflect viewing.” She added: “Sometimes people install a channel but never view it.”
Roku instead pointed Variety to a list of most-watched channels on its website, which does list the HBO Go on 7th place and the TWC TV app 9th. This list is based on hours streamed, according to Roku’s spokesperson, who said she wasn’t able to break app performance down further because of nondisclosure agreements with content providers.
Shodan acquired its insights by querying Roku devices directly connected to the internet. Shodan founder John Matherly stated on Reddit that the company’s sample size was about 1600 devices. That may sound small, but actually is a statistically relevant sample. Roku now has more than nine million active accounts per month.
There are however two big caveats: For one, the install base is only a rough indicator for actual use. Some Roku owners may decide to install an app, but then never actually use it. Secondly, Roku devices come with a number of apps pre-installed, which is often based on commercial agreements between the company and app publishers. However, users are free to uninstall any app, and replace it with any other app from Roku’s 3000+ app collection.
Update: 1/22/2016: This post was updated throughout to add a response from Roku as well as to clarify the methodology behind the original study.