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The latest survey into Smart TV ownership and catch-up TV usage shows an extremely mixed set of results. According to YouGov’s Smart TV tracker study, which is updated quarterly, about one in four Brits claim to spend more time watching on-demand TV rather than conventional live broadcasting.
Catch-up viewing is said to be even higher among 18-24 year-olds, where the figure rises to just over 40 per cent.
Among Smart TV users specifically, where apps such as iPlayer are integrated into the TV and accessed directly through a broadband connection, more than a third of people say most of their viewing is no longer live. YouGov says that is also the case for more than half of Smart TV users who are 18-24 or who have pre-school children.
The stats come from a panel of 1,000 Smart TV hardware users, drawn from a wider base of 400,000 consumers, although the survey is reporting what those respondents believe rather than following what they’ve actually watched, so you might want to greet the figures with a bit of scepticism.
Look further down in the data, too, and it seems that the so-called “smart” aspect of modern TVs is not the main reason for buying the sets. Only 37 per cent of Brits planning to buy a Smart TV said that its internet connection was a factor in getting one.
The main reason is merely having a more up-to-date and relatively future-proofed TV, while the feature of most importance to existing Smart TV owners is, unsurprisingly, picture quality (96 per cent of owners) and screen size (93 per cent).
“I think many early adopters of Smart TV are buying them for the sake of owning the latest gadget,” said Dan Brilot, YouGov’s Media Consulting Director. “We see the profile [in terms of tech adoption] as very similar between iPad and Smart TV owners at the moment. These are the kind of people who are willing to make a big ticket purchase without quite realising what they’ve bought.”
Shockingly, in the survey only 53 per cent of people who already own a Smart TV could correctly identify it as a TV that connects to the net without the aid of another device, such as a set-top box.
On top of that, a quarter of Smart TV owners are said to have never used their snazzy set to connect to an online service. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that televisions are now actually cleverer than a lot of the folks who buy them. However, much of the problem could also be down to manufacturers and shops failing to highlight the benefits of such TVs.
“Manufacturers need to understand what the USP of a Smart TV is, either understanding a current need or creating one,” added Brilot, “rather than bundling together different technologies without the necessary thought as to how they might be used together.”
His sentiments echo those of the BBC’s Daniel Danker, who recently criticised hardware manufacturers over how complicated their Smart TVs are to set-up and use for typical consumers.
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