Despite lack of tech agility, Smart TVs lead the race among streaming fans... barely

By Jim O'Neill on Jan 29 2016 at 7:15 AM
Despite lack of tech agility, Smart TVs lead the race among streaming fans... barely

Smart TVs were supposed to be the bastard children of the digital video revolution, too expensive with too long a replacement cycle and too unwieldy to be able to pivot as the technology behind video evolved.

Turns out they may be the favorite after all, at least in the United States.

A new report says one third of U.S. OTT users prefer Smart TVs, outpacing game consoles (25%), digital set-top boxes like Roku and Apple TV (17%), streaming sticks like Google Chromecast (10%), Blu-ray players (10) and DVRs (2%).

The primary reason is the most obvious, you don’t have to switch inputs from “regular” TV or cable TV or hunt down alternate remote control devices to watch Netflix et al, the major bane of consumers today.

The 32% who like Smart TVs for streaming pretty much matches the penetration of smart TVs in the U.S., researcher TDG said.

Smart TVs also have made significant inroads in Western Europe with 45% of European broadband households owning at least one smart TV.

Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and France all have ownership rates above 40% with Germany leading at 50%.

Those numbers may, however, be a tad misleading.

Several years ago, when 3D first reared its head, researchers reported rapid uptake of the technology with TV buyers. In fact, the sales were skewed because TV manufacturers quickly included 3D technology – which was relatively cheap – into nearly all the TVs they were manufacturing.

Connected TVs also have increasingly turned into Smart TVs with prices dropping so quickly that to not buy a TV that’s smart is difficult.

Many users find Smart TV interfaces to be less intuitive than Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and streaming sticks and so often connect those devices to their Smart TVs creating, I guess, Genius TVs.

The bottom line? Smart TV sales may be tracking higher but there is still a lot of work to be done on interfaces before consumers willingly turn away from other options.

Stay tuned.

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