In the world of streaming entertainment, picking the right hardware is just as important as choosing a TV – and one increasingly goes hand in hand with the other. TV manufacturers partner with specific streaming platforms and then build them into their TVs. There are dozens of different streaming devices on the market today. But behind the illusion of choice, the market is ruled by the four biggest streaming platform brands: Roku OS, Amazon Fire OS, Apple tvOS and Android TV. 

Streaming player market share in the US

Streaming player market share in the US (Source)

But from the consumer’s point of view, does it all really matter? There may not be much of a difference between the hardware platforms – and most people don’t care as long as they can run Netflix or HBO Max on them. The devil’s in the details. 

In this article, we take a deep dive and focus on the key differences between the Roku TV and Android TV platforms.


Apart from Google’s own Chromecast streaming devices, many brands are using the Android TV system in their devices today. For example, a version of Android TV is used in Fire TV devices, although Amazon heavily modifies the interface and functions to support their own streaming offering. 

Android TV can also be seen in selected Sony TVs and the TiVo Stream 4K streaming device. The list goes on and on, and we’re only dropping the household names here.

Examples of popular Android TV streaming sticks and boxes:

  • Chromecast TV
  • Xiaomi Mi Box S
  • NVIDIA Shield TV

Chromecast TV

Chromecast TV

TV’s with Android TV built in:

There are many companies releasing TVs with Android TV on board: 

  • Sony
  • TCL
  • Insignia
  • Sharp
  • Hisense
  • RCA
  • Hitachi, 
  • Many, many others.


TV’s with Roku TV built in:

Some TV manufacturers like TCL and Hisense have also adopted the Roku platform, so there are many cheaper models to choose from. What’s important, however, is that TCL is very popular in the US, but not a commonplace brand in Europe.

Nvidia Shield TV is arguably the most powerful Android TV device, and Roku Ultra is the most powerful Roku device available on the market today.


Roku Ultra LT

Roku Ultra LT is the most powerful Roku model built to rival hardware like Google Chromecast TV and Nvidia Shield TV. The Ultra LT is equipped with a powerful quad-core processor and smooth wired and wireless 4K streaming.

Roku Ultra LT (Source: Roku promotional materials)

Streaming content

Content-wise, it doesn’t matter too much if you go with Roku TV or Android TV. Either option will allow you easy access to Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, and many, many other streaming video and audio platforms we don’t really have the place to list here. What’s more, even if your TV is running a specific OS (e.g. Tizen), nothing stands in the way of using an external stick or streaming box to change it (e.g to Roku). 

If you’re not sure if the specific platform supports your favorite streaming app, you can check it here: Roku App store and respectively, here: apps for Android TV.

Apps vs channels

Importantly, Roku does not use the “app” nomenclature, and instead uses “channels”. Thus you don’t install apps, but add channels on Roku. 

Roku beats Android TV in terms of free content, but not all free channels are really good to start with. Video game enthusiasts will certainly be disappointed by the lack of Twitch on Roku. If this sounds like something you’d miss, you should go with Android TV instead.

It’s also worth noting that Roku currently lacks an official Twitch app, while Android TV does. Additionally, you can use Android TV’s built-in Chromecast feature to stream content from your computer or smartphone.


User interface

Let’s now look at how the two platforms compare in terms of user interface. 



When looking at Android TV and Roku, the latter is often considered the simpler one to use. This may be important for the non-tech-savvy audiences or the elderly. Roku reflects the interface most people know from cable TV systems: there is a list of all the installed channels (apps) on the home screen.

The Roku home screen can be easily customized to the viewer’s needs (source: Roku)
  • Featured Free: Featured content that you can watch on Roku for free.
  • My Feed: Updates on any movies or TV shows you’re interested in, such as when they’re available for purchase or when they go on sale.
  • Movie/TV Store: Quick access for buying or renting movies and TV shows.
  • Search: Universal search to find a certain title across all of Roku’s popular apps.
  • Streaming Channels: Library of paid and free apps you can download to your Roku.
  • Settings: Change your Roku’s theme, adjust the time, control accessibility options, etc.

Android TV

Android TV (or Google TV, as it’s now called since the launch of Google’s Chromecast TV device) has also undergone a visual overhaul.

But it’s not just about the name change. Android Google TV will continue to slowly replace the older Android TV user interface over the next year on older hardware. This means Android TV users will receive a revamped home screen with the “Discover”, Apps and Assistant tabs on top.

With the update, Google aims to replicate (as much as possible) the Chromecast TV experience on all Android TV devices to make sure everyone has a similar experience on their platform.

The revamped Android TV home screen as seen on a Sony TV (source: Sony)


The Home screen remains basically the same except removing the row of icons down the left side for consistency across tabs. Press the HOME button on your TV remote to open the Home tab.



Recommended titles are organized by topic or theme, based on the viewer’s watching history, interests, and trends.



The existing Apps view will change to a tab-based experience, helping you to find your apps more easily and show user installed apps. The Google Play Store app is still used to access or download more apps. If your TV remote has the APPS button, pressing this button will open the Apps tab.

Overall, Roku’s interface may look a bit dated but is definitely the easier to use of the two.


Voice assistants

If you’re after a decent Google Assistant experience, you can’t go wrong with Android TV. 


Roku voice commands

Roku comes close with a remote that supports the essential voice commands to access specific content or do a number of other things: turn on the TV, adjust the volume, mute, and control certain streaming apps. And the features should be enough for most people, but Google Assistant simply offers more power and functionality.

And whether your smart home is built with Alexa or Google Assistant, Roku will still be a great choice either way. Both Alexa and Google Assistant can control Roku just fine. 

Android TV

The Google Assistant is simply better than Roku, but this is hardly surprising. The question you have to ask yourself is if it really matters to you.

Availability and popularity

Roku is the most popular hardware platform globally. However, the advantage is in big part driven by its domination in North America, and does not reflect the situation in other countries. 

Device Active Users Supported Countries
Amazon Fire TV 50 million 100+
Chromecast and Android TV 24 million 11
Roku 55.1 million 20
Apple TV 40 million 100+
NVIDIA Shield TV n/a 14
OTT device market share recap (source)

According to Research by Conviva, While Roku accounted for a whopping 37% of big-screen viewing time in Q1 2021 in the US, in Europe (which is its second-largest market) the share was only 8%. 

What does it tell us? For example, if you are developing a streaming app, you shouldn’t prioritize your presence on the Roku app store unless your target audience is mainly in the United States. Roku has a very high number of active users (55.1m) but is not supported in as many countries as, for example, Apple TV .

In Europe, the market share is fairly even between Samsung (19%), Chromecast (12%), Amazon Fire TV (10%), LG TV (10%), and Android TV (9%). Roku is seen as an obscure streaming hardware brand most people have only seen on the internet, and the situation is not expected to change anytime soon. Roku is even less popular in Africa, Asia, Oceania and South Africa, where it has less than 4% usage.



Roku and Android TV don’t differ much from the hardware or software point of view. And while there might be differences in terms of voice control, the features are not equally important for many users, and could be easily overlooked. 

Most popular streaming apps are available on both Android TV and Roku (where they’re called channels instead), so the availability of apps can’t be the key choosing criterion here either. 

By a huge margin, however, Roku is the most popular streaming platform in the US. The sheer fact that Roku was one of the first streaming boxes that launched in the US resulted in its current edge on the market there. However, the situation is not reflected in any other part of the world and is not likely to change in the future.

Roku is also believed to offer a simpler, cleaner user experience, but this is much a matter of the liking and personal preferences.


Last words

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If you’re curious to find out what we can do for you, send us an email. Our experts will be happy to discuss your project.