These days, it’s practically impossible to buy a new HDTV that doesn’t come pre-installed with numerous internet apps and streaming video services. Yet, according to a recent report from the NPD Group, barely half of so-called “Smart TV” owners bother to connect them to the internet at all. Does anyone actually find this surprising?
The study claims that only about 50% of consumers with internet-capable TVs link them online. Of those that do, 60% use the internet features exclusively to stream video from services like Netflix or Hulu, while less than 10% use web browsing or social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter.
The 50% ratio of smart TVs to actual Internet-connected smart TVs has held steady since the debut of smart TVs in the latter part of the last decade. It’s a conundrum no one industry has been able to solve.
Really? No one has been able to solve this conundrum? I can think of several possible reasons for this, and they largely come down to convenience. For one thing, many people don’t necessarily keep their TV near an internet router for easy connection, and don’t trust WiFi (if the TV even offers it), with its erratic signal drop-outs, for streaming video, especially not high-def video. As far as web browsing goes, it’s just a pain in the neck to do that on a television. In even a best case scenario, the graphics will overlay any program you may be watching. Then you either need to navigate a keypad emulator with the remote control (a torturous experience) or connect a wireless keyboard to the TV. It’s a thousand times easier to browse the web on a smartphone or tablet while dividing your attention to an unobstructed TV screen. We just don’t need these features to be built into the TV itself.
Frankly, the paradigm of TV watching didn’t need to be revolutionized with internet widgets. The TV is good for watching broadcast programs and movies. We have other, more convenient devices to surf the web with.
Even when it comes to streaming video, we’ve come to perceive the television as a simple display monitor into which we can plug various video sources. For many viewers, it makes more sense to stream movies from hub devices such as set-top boxes, Blu-ray players or game consoles that we probably already have connected anyway. What’s the point of duplicating those features inside the TV?
Despite the failure of these features to catch on with consumers, don’t expect TV makers to stop offering them. They’re fairly cheap and easy to program into the TV, and are useful as “value add” bullet points in the sales marketing, whether anyone uses them or not.
If you have a Smart TV, do you use its internet features?