2020 marked a difficult year for many and the tech industry was no exception. However, despite the trade show cancellations and the production delays, some were able to ride the waves of the uncertainty better than others. Samsung’s TV business was one of them.
According to Samsung, the TV sector grew 20% in 2020, with people interacting with their TVs in different ways than before.
To to learn more about how the year shaped their ideas, we spoke to Deep Halder, Samsung Electronics UK’s Head of TV/AV Retail & Content Services, about the year that was 2020 and how it will position itself to adapt to the “next normal”.
The main nugget that Deep conveyed to Trusted Reviews was that “2020 [was] the year of the TV upgrade.”
“The past year has been one of the strongest for the TV market”
According to Halder, TV technology and content has become a vital part of people’s lives in the past year: “The sector has seen over 20% growth, which is clearly a reflection of the increased amount of time people are spending at home, but also a sign that improving the TV experience has been a top priority”.
Samsung also noted a shift in how its users engaged with its TVs and content. There was a spike in usage of home fitness content, including a 40% increase in the use of Samsung’s health apps as gyms closed, along with a rise in kids-based and educational content as children attended school from home.
“All these factors are also mirrored in people’s choices when investing in TV technology, with many upgrading their TV and home cinema experiences or equipping their home office or home-schooling rooms with the latest technology”, revealed Halder.
“For example, we have seen a strong growth in demand for our popular Lifestyle TV range, with the sales of our design led Frame TVs doubling during 2020. We’ve also seen a significant increase in interest in premium and extra-large TVs, with the sales of TVs over 75-inches more than double, and over 4x growth in 85-inch TVs. Our 8K TVs also stood out as a preferred choice, seeing over three times the volume of 8K TV sales versus 2019. We believe 2021 is set to be a big year for this category, as we will start to see more live events bringing unmissable moments to people’s front rooms.”
“TV has become a form of escapism”
While the amount of content streamed rose by 30% in 2020, binge-watching wasn’t the only reason users turned on their Samsung TVs. A study commissioned by Samsung that 7 in 10 people in the UK used their TVs differently compared with previous years.
“The reality is that TV screen time is now part of everything we do”, explained Halder. “It is playing a central role in people’s lives, allowing them to work, play, study and connect with friends and family. We see a growing trend of what we call “edutainment”, and it’s about people maximising TV screen time to have fun, but also keep the mind motivated – through playing games, watching documentaries or tutorials.”
“From enabling interactive game-playing, such as quizzes, to using the screen to master new skills or to bring the online classroom to life, TV experience has become about much more than just catching up on the latest entertainment – it is a form of escapism, it is educational, and it is keeping family members connected with others”.
This is not the first we’ve heard of Samsung’s interest in “edu-tainment”. At CES 2021, we spoke to Nathan Sheffield, Samsung’s Head of TV for Europe, about how new TikTok app aims to bring “fresh” experiences into homes.
Samsung’s health apps saw a 40% increase in use
When gyms shut their doors, it drove many to download health apps. Samsung response was to roll out its Health home fitness platform.
As Halder explains, “we already had several features in place across our product ecosystem, which enable our users to bring fitness and education experiences to life. But we wanted to go further and help more people enjoy their favourite activities from the comfort of their homes.”
“This is why we made our Samsung Health platform available on select 2020 Smart TV models, enabling users to enjoy free premium classes, start new wellness routines and even get the whole household moving with family challenges. The platform is designed to revolutionise the concept of at home workouts, offering users a companion that syncs across various digital devices – smartphones, wearables and smart TVs. We know how important, and yet how difficult it is for people to maintain physical and mental wellbeing in the current climate and wanted to make it easier for users to prioritise and really enjoy a variety of in-home fitness and wellness options”.
New ways of interacting with traditional content
There wasn’t just a focus on educational and health-centric content. Features such as Multi View and Adaptive Sound proved helpful for families sharing spaces at home.
“Multi View has been a clear differentiator in our product line-up as it appeals to certain users immensely. More so in the last year due to the popularity of large screen TVs”, revealed Halder.
“For example, sports fans who want to view two or more games at one time use the feature to cast different matches on the big screen. This is really popular amongst gamers as well as families where parents want to put on something for the children whilst they are watching a sports stream. Gamers have also found it useful to engage in social gaming”.
A number of audio features were introduced such as the Object Tracking Sound and Adaptive Sound.
“Object Tracking Sound is a really popular feature, especially when combined with our soundbars to offer Q-Symphony which takes the entertainment experience to the next level. This is because unlike other soundbars, when the Samsung TV and soundbar is paired together, the speakers from both the devices works in harmony, rather than the soundbar replacing the TV speakers.
“Finally, features such as Adaptive sound when combined with Active Voice Amplifier provides an experience that our users appreciate because there is less disruption in their viewing experience”.
Will this interest continue into 2021 and beyond?
While we’re looking forward to venturing out into the world again, Halder believes some changes could be here to stay.
“The pandemic has clearly changed the way we live, work, play and consume content. It has made people think more carefully about the way they spend their time, how they manage their work-life balance and perform simple tasks in their homes. And while we all look forward to going back to life as we knew it, the reality is that the world will never quite be the same. For some, the change could mean spending more time with their family and friends, to others it could be a change of working patterns or lifestyle.”
“Regardless of what the ‘next normal’ brings to the world, our TVs and services will continue to evolve and accommodate new user demands and enable functions that showcase the TV’s diverse and flexible role in the home”.
What lessons will Samsung take?
There are lessons that can be learnt. We asked Halder how Samsung will use that knowledge to inform its TVs going forward.
“Research we conducted shows that TV is the primary source of contact with friends and family to a third of people in the UK. As we’re a few months into 2021, one thing has never been clearer – TVs will continue to play a pivotal role in helping us carry on and stay connected. The demand for bigger screens, better picture quality and smarter experiences has never been greater, and we expect this growing momentum to continue as we hope outdoor gatherings will bring people together around the screen this summer”.
2020 also shone a light on what’s important to Samsung’s users, such as accessibility.
“Our new TVs and features seek to provide the best TV experiences possible and ensure all our consumers are granted access. We’ve introduced new accessibility features to enable better experiences for people with visual and hearing impairments. This includes our new Caption Moving, Sign Language Zoom, Multi-Output Audio and Voice Guide features, which were awarded a CES 2021 Best of Innovation Award winning accessibility features for TVs. This is an area that [we’ll be] developing more and new AI-based features as we continue to make our TVs more accessible”.