TMCnet Feature
May 28, 2013

Most Connected TVs are Still Disconnected

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Smart TVs that hook up to the Web may be gaining in penetration levels within homes, but that doesn’t mean that consumers are actually using them. New research has revealed that out of the one in five (20 percent) of respondents who claimed to own a smart TV, fewer than half of those had actually connected it to the Internet.

Analysys (News - Alert) Mason’s report, the Connected Consumer Survey 2013, polled 6,600 consumers in the mature TV markets of France, Germany, Poland, Spain, the U.K. and the United States and found increasing interest in connected television sets. More than a third (36 percent) of respondents who do not yet own a smart TV were interested in buying one, with interest peaking at 42 percent within the key 35–54 age group. These respondents typically have a higher income than their younger peers (18–34 year-olds), but are more interested in new technology than older respondents (aged 55 and over).

However, “although CE manufacturers and their distribution channels, particularly retailers, have been successful in getting smart TVs into consumers’ homes, they haven’t done so well when it comes to getting consumers to actually use the ‘smart’ functionality within the sets,” said Analysys Mason senior analyst Cesar Bachelet, in a rundown of the findings.

To put the 20-percent existing penetration rate into perspective, out of the respondents who owned a TV (smart or otherwise), 7 percent had an Internet-connected DVD or Blu-ray player connected to the TV set, which Bechelet noted represents an alternative, and cheaper, route into the world of smart TV for those who do not wish to buy a new TV set, bringing the total penetration of smart TVs and associated peripheral devices to more than a quarter of respondents.

On the other hand, streaming media devices, such as Apple (News - Alert) TV or Roku Internet set-top boxes, which typically are single-purpose devices offering access to a more limited range of content than smart TVs, were owned by just one in 20 of respondents.

“We believe that actual ownership levels for smart-TV sets may be higher than that reported in our survey, because some people may own a smart TV without even realizing it, having purchased the TV for other features such as picture quality or the attractive form factor,” said Bechelet. “CE manufacturers need to encourage people to use the value-added ‘smart’ functionality for smart TV to be a real success.”

There are a few things hamstringing the market to date – for instance, a lack of compelling content and applications, and limited differentiation. “Although most smart TVs offer a relatively wide range of content and applications, most of it is fairly generic, and a lot of it may be irrelevant or uninteresting to many consumers,” Bechelet said. It’s an issue that could be addressed as CE manufacturers increasingly form partnerships with local content owners, which can include pay-TV operators.

Poor user interfaces are another issue. The ‘smart’ experience is typically delivered through a range of disjointed apps, making interaction difficult. “Some CE manufacturers, such as Samsung (News - Alert), are beginning to address this through features such as content recommendation, voice and motion control,” he noted.

And finally, once the first two issues are solved, it’s about framing the differentiators appropriately.

“By creating an intuitive experience that seamlessly combines the efficiency of traditional broadcasting with the diversity of the Internet, CE manufacturers can drive consumers to effortlessly embrace the ‘smart’ functionality within their TV sets,” Bechelet said. “Only then will smart TVs truly be successful.”

Edited by Alisen Downey
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