Smart TV Adoption Unsurprisingly Lagging in the U.S.

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Smart TV doodads are often at the forefront of feature lists on modern TVs. The ability to add a Skype camera for chat, to play Netflix, Hulu, and a host of other online content sounds enticing  but according to a new study, the USA is one of the biggest consumers of internet video, and one of the lowest consumers of standalone TVs to play it on.

North American households consume the highest levels of Internet video, averaging over 30GB per household every month (according to Cisco), yet they don’t seem attracted to connected TVs,” Paul Gray, director of European TV research, said in a statement. “We find that North America leads by far in paid on-demand services, which tend to be tied to set-top boxes.”

Smart-TV shipments are tightly linked to content consumption habits. For consumers in China, there is plenty of free content on the Internet and few structured services. This favors TVs with built-in browsers. Furthermore, Chinese consumers consider a TV to be a prestigious purchase and are prepared to invest more in them.

Meanwhile, Western Europe consumes more free content every month than North America. Terrestrial broadcasters’ repurposed content aggregators are beginning to dominate in Western Europe. These broadcasters have no interest in hardware, so connected TVs are flourishing with open standards such as HbbTV rapidly gaining acceptance and evolving with new features. The development of the Ginga standard in Brazil is following a similar path in Europe, with commercial broadcasters uniting around a common platform.

This is another way of saying that a TV is the last place Americans are looking when they go to kick up Netflix. What drove the boom in Blu-ray disc? It wasn’t the quality of high-def — it was the ability to stream Netflix to your television, and the delights of Blu-ray came as a side benefit. Connected game consoles then one-upped Blu-ray with more sophisticated, easier to use, and faster interfaces. In the developing world, personal computers are not as common, and the web browser features and video bring the internet to places it otherwise wouldn’t be. Combine that with a plethora of free content services and it’s easy to see why web-enabled TVs are hot in the East.

Americans like their subscription streaming services, they like having everything regimented, and they’re a lot more into chatting on their phones, laptops, and tablets than doing it on their TVs. In a way, this all hearkens back to why the United States is the only major country in the world where BD recorders are not available. Historically, the only recording Americans cared about was time-shifting, and not building up libraries of blank discs, so when the Cable companies offered DVRs and OnDemand that did the same thing didn’t require a new tape every few hours, the desire for a standalone recording device went with them. BD Recorders are complex devices, typically a DVR/BD-R all-in one sporting at least 500GB of storage, and costing $600-1000.

Will Americans gravitate toward Smart TV? Eventually, I think. One of the big advantages cited in the piece is that Europe has standardized on a single interface, and I really think that’s key. Each manufacturer has its own features, its own implementations, and it’s a very fragmented market. Apple knows this, which is why they’ve been trying to woo the cable companies into adopting their new boxes. Until a feature like Xbox SmartGlass is ubiquitous, and any device can toss a video chat, pictures, or videos from the mobile to the TV with the flick of a finger, Americans probably just aren’t going to care that much about the Smart features on their TVs, unless there’s a major, immediately obvious benefit to doing so.

Via: [Home Media Magazine]

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