Roku likely reason for increased Fire TV Stick 4K discounts and what it means for future models

Most people know that Amazon devices, including Fire TV models, go on sale very frequently. While it may seem like they’re on sale all the time or on sale more often than they aren’t on sale, that’s not actually the case. However, the Fire TV Stick 4K is changing that because, lately, it has actually been on sale more days than it hasn’t. The likely reason is pressure from Roku’s new Express 4K+ which is aggressively priced to undercut the Fire TV Stick 4K. That could have negative repercussions for Amazon’s next budget 4K Fire TV model.

I track Amazon device sales, especially Fire TV sales, very closely to keep my Buyer’s Guide deal ratings accurate. While it may seem like Fire TVs are always on sale, in reality, they typically only go on sale for about a week every 1 or 2 months. For example, during May and June last year, the Fire TV Stick 4K was on sale for 7 days and it was on sale for 15 days during that 2 month period in 2019. During May and June of this year, the Fire TV Stick 4K was on sale for 51 out of the 61 days.

Some might say Amazon is clearing out stock for a new model, given that the Fire TV Stick 4K is the oldest model in the current Fire TV lineup, but that’s not typically how Amazon operates. More often than not, when a new model is released, Amazon simply drops the price of the older model until it sells out. We very rarely see an uptick in sales just prior to a new model being released. If an existing Amazon device goes out of stock for no apparent reason, while it doesn’t always happen, that is usually the best indicator that a new model is coming, not sales.

Other Fire TV models have not seen the same uptick in sales as the Fire TV Stick 4K has. My best guess for this is the newly added pressure from the release of Roku’s Express 4K at $34.99 and Express 4K+ at $39.99. The more frequent Fire TV Stick 4K salses started a couple of weeks after the Roku Express 4K was released. Amazon’s least expensive 4K streamer is the Fire TV Stick 4K at $49.99, so it seems like Amazon is keeping it on sale at $39.99 or less most of the time to compete with Roku on price.

Prior to the release of the Express 4K, Roku’s least expensive 4K streamer was the Roku Premiere at $39.99. While it was also cheaper than the Fire TV Stick 4K, it had a far more inferior remote that didn’t have voice capabilities or TV controls, so it was understandable that the Fire TV Stick 4K would cost a bit more. The new Roku Express 4K+ changed things because it has a nearly equally capable remote and it maintains the cheaper $39.99 price. There’s also the Roku Express 4K for $34.99, which is a Walmart exclusive that uses the inferior remote. These two models compete much more closely with the Fire TV Stick 4K in the budget 4K streamer market, which is why I think Amazon is being so aggressive with its streamer’s sales lately.

The Fire TV Stick 4K is still a superior product in a few ways, such as support for Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos audio, and input switching on the remote to name a few, but Roku has certainly closed the gap with the release of the Express 4K+. My concern is that Amazon will decide to cut features out of its next budget 4K Fire TV model in order to match Roku’s aggressive pricing. Hopefully, Amazon will release a “Lite” 4K model, that matches Roku’s price, along with a regular model that doesn’t compromise on features, for those of us that don’t mind paying a bit more for a better device. Just like it did with last year’s Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite release.

17 comments
  1. Charlie_ says:

    The one thing Roku really has going for it is support.

    They can’t control content providers making heavier and heavier apps but the actual Roku portion is rock solid. That’s what most people are looking for and why the Roku TVs are so popular.

    Amazon needs to have a come to Jesus moment where they visualize what exactly they’re trying to accomplish in the marketplace instead of this scattershot approach where they keep firing out more and more non-revisions while dropping active support for old devices.

  2. Dennis J Hotston says:

    I have a Roku device and 4K sticks and Cube. The Roku device is CRAP,in my opinion. Clunky interface, substandard remote and a closed ecosystem. Look at the YouTube TV issues Roku users are having. I like having a device that I can control. Being able to sideload apps, is crucial for me.

    • David Fleetwood says:

      It really depends on who it’s for as to which device is better. For myself, an advanced FireTV Cube with it’s features, sideloading and more dynamic UI is ideal. For seniors, however, Roku is far preferrable, with their simplified UI that never changes, rare need to reboot and easy management.

      I have a FireTV on my tv, but on my aunt’s I have a Roku and she’s had no issues navigating and using it. The FireTV was ridiculously confusing, especially with all the advertising and tabs.

      • Jay says:

        If I may respectfully reply, not all of us “seniors” require simplified streaming devices. Many seniors own Fire TV sticks and cubes, Chromecasts/Google TV, Nvidia Shields, and Apple TVs. I own all of them and can use each one without any problems. Sure,many older folks prefer Roku (as do many younger folks), but we’re not required to give up our Fire TV Sticks when we turn 65.

        • David Fleetwood says:

          I’m glad that works for you. It has not worked well with my aunt or really any seniors I’ve helped into the streaming world. Obviously there are many seniors who are technically curious and capable and I am not speaking about them. My point is that Roku offers a simple consistent UI with access to all the main services. For anyone with less tech savvy, often seniors but also plenty of non-seniors, this is a major benefit over alternative devices like Google’s, Amazons and Microsoft’s, which offer advertising heavy and inconsistent UI’s that encourage discovery rather than just getting the user to where they want to go easily.

          In my opinion it would be beneficial for Amazon and others to offer a simple list/icon view as an alternative for people who are not curious about their devices, what new content exists or seeing ads but who just want to pull up Netflix/Hulu/AmazonVideo/etc to see the shows they are looking for.

        • Frank Hiett says:

          I agree. I am 75 and I have 6 Amazon firetv devices, 2 T95Q android boxes. I also have 4 roku’s that I rarely use.

          • cag says:

            Fire TV devices: Sideloading apps and Browsers. PERIOD.
            I would never give up these two things.
            I am 75.
            But, ROKU is far simpler and easier, when I don’t need to use the above two I use the ROKU.

          • I love that my reader demographic tends to skews toward older people than most tech sites and it’s great seeing you all defending your tech-savviness. I’m sure David meant no disrespect with his generalization.

          • David Fleetwood says:

            No disrespect was intended at all. If someone does not fit the statement I made it wasn’t aimed at them.

        • McKnight says:

          Good one! I’m sure the commenter didn’t mean any offence, but I still love your reply lol

  3. Charlie says:

    Based on reviews the Express 4K Plus is a very capable Roku. I wanted one when it was released but couldn’t make myself do it. Though you can add Ethernet OTG it seems gimmicky to do that. I have read it runs hot and that Ethernet setup is not likely to be optimal.

    I have two older Premiere Plus Roku’s that are equal to the Ultra of that generation, with a few extras left off. Ethernet is built in and I’m not a fan of sticks and dongles, though I do have one Stick 4K. I happen to like the simplicity of the Roku interface and though there is no side loading and I can’t run Smart Youtube I still enjoy them after all these years. I have Cubes and a Shield and since I like a simple interface I’m running Wolf launcher on all of them. I may yet buy the Plus if I get an impulse at just the right moment.

    • Frank Hiett says:

      I have 6 Amazon firetv devices and 2 T95Q android boxes that I have wolf launcher on all of them. I subscribe to tech doctor UK YouTube channel and he has many videos on customizing your devices.

  4. hdmkv says:

    Okay if Amazon next releases a 4K-lite to compete w/Roku & the plethora cheapo of Android TV devices, but hope they also release a better 4K stick and Cube options (processor, memory, storage, etc.). Sad if it’ll be just a race to the bottom pricing.

    • Agreed. I really hope the enthusiasts aren’t left in the cold while everyone races for the bottom. The Fire TV Stick 4K has been so popular not because it’s the cheapest option, but because it packs in so many enthusiast features at such a great price. Hopefully, that continues with whatever replaces it.

      • Nate says:

        Great points, Elias. That really sums up my concerns regarding the ‘race to the bottom’. I think many of us understand that the bread and butter of these devices aren’t the hardware as a source of revenue itself, but a vector to the content which does provide Amazon with high ROI products (movie rentals, movie purchases, etc.). I would hate to see Amazon focus solely on budget devices with sub-par internals to match. That isn’t to say there is anything wrong with someone who just wants a simple streaming devices without the horsepower behind it; I would just worry this is a signal that Amazon aren’t trying to woo any of the enthusiast camp anymore. I may not need a Shield, but I certainly won’t settle for a laggy device either.

    • spiffyone says:

      I just want a true replacement to Fire TV (Gen 2), the low profile slab design and all. No box with built-in mic. No stick. No reason to buy this or that dongle to do those things that should be built in. Low profile slab design, mic on the remote (with volume buttons; shame Gen 2 owners can’t change the volume with the Amazon remote), increase the built-in storage capacity, mini sd slot for more storage, etc. Bundle in the Luna controller as well. First day purchase for me. But it likely will never happen.

  5. Tom Wooden says:

    Roku is good for what roku will allow you watch, that sucks. Fire Sticks are good for watching whatever and anything you want to watch.That’s Great, amazing. Amazon and Android all the way for me.

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