Lack of 'conscious desire' holds back Smart TV use

Despite a huge desire to receive content and services through television, Smart TVs trail laptops, desktops and set-top boxes when it comes to consumers deciding how to connect to the internet through their sets, new research from YouGov shows.

Results from the latest Connected TV Tracker show that half (50%) of consumers like the idea of accessing online content through their televisions. However, although 13% of the population owned a Smart TV in Q1 2013 there is a lack of “conscious desire” to use the sets to connect to the internet with fewer than half this number (6%) currently using one of the devices as their primary means of accessing online content.

Set-top boxes

Instead, consumers are connecting their televisions through devices that are traditionally used to go online – with laptops (24%) and desktop computers (12%) being the most popular. The research shows that over a fifth (23%) of people now use set top boxes as their main way of accessing the internet on their televisions. Sky is the dominant force in this area (12% use a Sky+ box to connect their TV to the internet most often) followed by Virgin Media (6%), Freeview (3%) and BT Vision (2%).

The Connected TV Tracker shows that set top box providers take the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to how consumers most regularly watch catch-up television via a TV set. Amongst on-demand viewers, well over a third (37%) prefer to watch through a set-top box (be it Sky, Virgin or YouView) while fewer than one in ten (7%) watch this content directly through a Smart TV.

The main challenge for manufacturers is that the device’s capabilities are not currently the main motivation of purchase. Over half of Smart TV sales (51%) are down to the purchaser wanting an up-to-date TV and a quarter (25%) because their old set was broken. Just over one in five (22%) got a Smart TV because they wanted to connect to the internet through a television. Furthermore, owners do not exploit the set’s internet connectivity as fewer than half (47%) of Smart TV owners currently use the set to go online on a weekly basis.


However, YouGov’s findings suggest that with Smart TVs not being used to their full potential at present, an opportunities exist for manufacturers that can increase awareness of the device’s full capabilities and encourage consumers to use them.

Dan Brilot, Media Consulting Director at YouGov, says: “People increasingly want to go view on-demand and other internet-delivered services on the big screen. However, this trend has yet to be harnessed by the Smart TV manufacturers as consumers show no real conscious desire to use their sets to connect to the web as regularly as they do on other devices. At the moment, consumers see getting online through their televisions either as a job for their TV provider or as an extension of their existing online devices.

“Given sales of Smart TVs are increasing at a healthy rate, there is a real opportunity for manufacturers with regard to selling additional services such as apps that would provide them with increased revenue. Many people who buy Smart TVs seem to be largely unaware of the capabilities and opportunities offered by the devices. For TV manufacturers to gain traction in this area they need to showcase what their devices are capable of and offer them up as offering something distinct from both set-top boxes and other pieces of internet-connected kit.”

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Find out more about our Connected TV Study