Cord-Cutting World Series: Roku vs. Fire TV

It's a battle between heavyweights 💥

Noticing a flurry of “We updated our Terms and Conditions” emails lately? ‘Tis the season, apparently. As streaming services ramp up price increases and ad-supported models, many, including Peacock, Disney+, and Hulu, are changing their T and Cs to reflect these upcoming changes. It’s all boring stuff, save for Peacock. Their Terms of Use has a recipe for Kevin’s Famous Chili from The Office.

In this issue:

  • The data is in: Roku and Fire TV dominate the market

  • Key differences between Roku and Fire TV

  • Community poll: Which device owns space in your home?

The numbers don’t lie: Roku and Fire TV are in a league of their own

It’s safe to say that you probably have either a Roku or an Amazon Fire TV device for streaming at home. How do we know? The data.

Sources vary, but back in 2019, Roku and Amazon Fire TV commanded around 80% of the set-top streaming device market. Since then, their numbers have only grown. If you take a birds-eye view of the cord-cutting device scene, all you’re going to see is a sea of purple (Roku) and orange (Amazon).

As far as who’s winning in market share between the two, there’s no clear champion. Not that it matters. But there are some clear concerns with their domination: Markets effectively controlled by only two players (known as a duopoly) tend to mean fixed prices and almost non-existent options.

Of course, you could just buy a used Android streaming box, but we wouldn’t recommend it. With the exception of the extraordinarily pricey Nvidia Shield TV, none are really worth it. So, in that case, which is better, Roku or Amazon Fire TV?

Roku vs Fire TV in 60 Seconds

These devices are largely pretty similar, making it a more subjective choice of what you prefer. That said, there are two easy ways to compare them: by price and by feature.

Roku’s base prices are slightly cheaper

Roku devices start at $17.99.

Fire TV sticks start at $19.99.

If you’re all-in, however, you could get a $179 Roku Streambar Pro which combines a sound system and streaming device into one. And of course, there are plenty of Roku-enabled smart TVs where costs can go into the hundreds of dollars, as well.

Prices for the Fire TV set-top boxes go up to $139 for the Fire TV Cube or several hundred dollar price ranges for Fire TV-enabled smart TVs.

On this end, Roku wins out (barely) for entry prices, but loses out on pricing for its top-level device. Nevertheless, the Soundbar Pro and the Fire TV Cube aren’t exactly equivalent devices, so it’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison.

Roku wins on features 

It’s true that Amazon offers voice-activated controls via Alexa on even its cheapest devices, but Roku devices like the Express 4K have voice-activated controls too, just for a higher price.

On top of that, Roku’s Lost Remote Finder—available with its Streaming Stick 4K and Ultra—is a godsend if you’re a forgetful person or someone with kids/mischievous pets, and will save you from having to replace a lost remote that you’ve literally been looking for for months. I mean, come on, where the heck is it?? (Sorry…that one’s personal.)

There’s no clear winner on price, but if you’re obsessed with feature-rich products, Roku has a definite edge.

Apples or Oranges?

So which device wins for you? Let the voting commence in the poll below 👇!

  • *|SURVEY: Roku takes the cake|*

  • *|SURVEY: My Alexa is my best friend|*

  • *|SURVEY: I actually don't use either|*

Both devices have their draws

We know, we know. Everybody has their favorite! For what it’s worth, though, I own both and use both regularly. If I were buying a Fire device, I’d opt for the Fire TV Cube. The Fire TV stick tends to get sluggish when it has too many apps and the UI is a bit clunky.

The Roku, on the other hand, is snappy and easily navigable with its UI, but it tends to crash. But these are just my thoughts. User experiences will vary.

The Watchlist

The new



revives the now-defunct movie rental company this Thursday, Nov. 3.

Netflix’s breakout hit

Enola Holmes

this Friday, Nov. 4.

Daniel Radcliffe stars in

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

, available on

Friday, Nov. 4.

Showtime docu-drama

lands on the network this Friday, Nov. 4.

France-set period drama

Dangerous Liaisons

streams Sunday, Nov. 6 on


Brand-new Pawn Stars series,

Pawn Stars Do America

, streams Wednesday, Nov. 9 on


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