Update: The big day is almost here, and we're already seeing Black Friday streaming deals!
Click here to see our roundup of Black Friday electronics you can buy now, or read our roundup of the best electronics ads to see what's still to come.
Last year, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Roku all announced new models in the months leading up to Black Friday, and almost the same thing has happened this year. But while last year's refresh resulted in paltry deals on a whole field of new devices, we think this year there is too much competition for stores to keep prices high.
This year for our Black Friday predictions, we've created a "cheat sheet" with the top tips you need to know when shopping this season. For savvy consumers who want more information, scroll down for our in-depth analysis.
So what can you expect from Black Friday streaming deals? Read on below! Then, consider signing up for the DealNews Select newsletter to keep track of the latest deals in your inbox, or download our app to have them at your fingertips.
The Cheat Sheet: Black Friday Streaming Predictions
Deals and Prices to Expect
- Current-generation Apple TV for $110 for 32GB, $150 for 64GB
- Current-generation Amazon Fire TV for $70, Fire TV Stick for $25 or $35 with voice remote
- Google Chromecast for $19
4 Quick Tips You Need to Know
- The best budget deal in streaming will be the Chromecast or Fire TV Stick. Chromecast will be cheaper, but the Fire TV Stick now comes with Alexa.
- Discontinued Roku models will be a good value... if you can find them.
- Don't bother shopping at the Apple Store for an Apple TV; instead, try Best Buy, Target, or hhgregg.
- It will only cost $10 more to get a voice remote with the Fire TV Stick, and it's worth it.
Want more details on how, what, where, and when to buy streaming device deals this Black Friday? Then check out our full analysis below.
When to Shop
Most Sales Will Start on Thanksgiving and Black Friday
Very few of the top streaming deals were released on Cyber Monday last year. Instead, look for deals to start on Thanksgiving. Many will be well stocked to last through Black Friday and the weekend, making these discounts easier to obtain than some other tech categories during Black Friday.
What to Buy
4K Streaming Just Got Way Cheaper
Last year, consumers had only two major options for a 4K Streamer: the Fire TV and the Roku 4. The Roku cost $130 and didn't see discounts, while the Fire TV was $100, but went down to $75 on Thanksgiving.
This year, 4K streamers start at $69, with the Chromecast Ultra. If the Ultra is like the other Chromecasts, you'll likely be able to get two for close to $100. The Roku Premiere, Premiere+, and Ultra also have 4K abilities, and cost $80, $100, and $130 respectively; they are less likely to see deals, but make for a competitive field.
The Fire TV is now a year old without a significant update. If it hits $70, it could be the 4K deal to beat.
Don't Buy the Apple TV at the Apple Store
The latest model Apple TV has a higher list price than any other streamer: $150 (32GB) or $200 (64GB). But even though it came out in September 2015, last Black Friday did offer new Apple TV discounts of 10% to 25% off — though some were hard-to-get, in-store only deals.
We expect discounts of around 25% off to be common this year, with 32GB models at $110 and 64GB models at $150. However, the best deals will be on refurbs. This year we've already seen refurbished 32GB models for as low as $95 and should see more of the same on Black Friday.
If you don't need all of the bells and whistles (like 4K resolution and a Siri-enabled remote) a 3rd generation Apple TV may do you just as well. Look for refurbished models around $40, though last year we didn't see the best deals on these until Cyber Monday. If you want to stream iTunes content, this is the best deal around.
One thing not to do if you're shopping for Apple products is to look at the Apple Store. Apple's Black Friday sales tend to be modest: you'll find the best deals at retailers like Best Buy, Target, and hhgregg. For more info on Apple Black Friday deals, click here.
Google Chromecast is Better in a Bundle
Always a bargain at $35 MSRP, there's only so much price to cut on the Chromecast. However, we saw this stick at a low of $19 last year and expect the same in 2016 — but you might find the lowest price in a bundle. Last holiday season it was common for Chromecasts to be sold in 2-packs, sometimes with gift cards. Google also sweetened the pot with Play Store credits and rental credits for shoppers.
And while we highly recommend the Chromecast for shoppers on a budget, be careful about which Chromecast you're buying. You want the current-generation model, not the older one, which occasionally still pops up for sale.
There's not a huge difference in functionality between the two, but the improved WiFi capabilities on the newer model are worth seeking out. Fortunately, they're easy to tell apart: The original Chromecast looks like other stick dongles, while the new Chromecast is a brightly colored round disc.
Don't Expect Big Roku Deals, Either
Roku might not be a household name like Google, Apple, or Amazon, but among streaming enthusiasts, it's the tops. Just a year old, the high-end Roku 4 was last year's must-have streamer, and one of only two options for 4K content. It naturally didn't see any discounts, and we thought this would be the year to get it cheaper. But then Roku went and discontinued their entire line, and introduced new models.
Since Roku's whole line is just a month old, it's not likely that any of the models will see significant discounts for Black Friday. The one exception is the Streaming Stick, which was held over; if it's discounted by even $5, it will be almost as cheap as our Chromecast predictions, and competitive with both versions of the Fire TV Stick.
That said, if you do find a store selling one of the discontinued Roku models on Black Friday, you're likely to get a great deal. Just pay attention to which generation you're buying.
The Best Budget Buys
If you're looking for a player on a budget, you'll find the Fire TV Stick or the Chromecast are your best choices at around $20. The Roku Stick has slightly better features, but is also likely to be twice the price at $40. Additionally, both the Roku Stick and Chromecast have seen refurbs for sale at half off this year. If we see similar deals this holiday season, that means refurbished Rokus at $25 and refurbished Chromecasts at $18.
Roku made a surprise additional entry in the budget streaming category with their brand new Roku Express, selling for $30. In terms of specs, it is very similar to the Chromecast and Fire Stick, and even comes with a remote.
Where to Shop
Because so many retailers carry streaming media players, you can find deals all over the map, and last year there wasn't a clear price leader. For the best bargains, look to big box retailers like Best Buy, hhgregg and Target, as well as online retailers like Amazon and Newegg.
What are you hoping to see with media streaming device deals this year? Let us know in the comments, check out all our Black Friday predictions below, and don't forget to bookmark our Black Friday homepage for all the latest ads, deals, and analysis.
The Complete Black Friday Predictions
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