Online Video on TV Rises, but There’s Room for More
China outpaces all other counties studied in online viewing
August 23, 2012 by Grant Clauser

We knew it was happening—now here’s the proof. Analyst firm NPD reports that viewing of cloud-based content on TVs is growing, and that’s a trend that’s bound to continue.

In a study that spanned 13 countries (14 regions, because they counted rural and urban China separately) it was found that 18 percent of consumers are accessing online content over their TVs. Interestingly, the US is not the largest consumer of online-over-TV content, despite the proliferation of internet-connected smart TVs, and streaming devices like Apple TV or Roku. That award goes to urban China. Viewers in France, Russia, rural China and Mexico also came out ahead of the US in this part of the study. For some reason South Korea, home to two of the biggest smart TV manufacturers, wasn’t included in the study.

In most of the regions looked at, PCs, smart phones and tablets led TVs in online video viewing. In the US, where iPad and Android mania is high, tablets were the trailing device for online video viewing, but that may be due to the larger install-base of home PCs and smart phones.

The rise in viewing online video over TVs is not surprising, but should serve as a reminder to internet service providers and content creators that the streaming market still has a lots of room for growth. “In fact, 25% of consumers surveyed said they view online content on their TV several times a week,” said Riddhi Patel, NPD DisplaySearch Research Director of Consumer Insights.

Good news for Netflix, the survey found that movies are the most popular source of entertainment. One of the factors that contributed to viewing over a TV rather than a smaller device, is that consumers prefer to watch movies in a social setting. In earlier research, Netflix and Youtube were found to be the two most important services people want on their smart TVs

There was also a large contingent of people who have no interest in viewing online content on TV—presumably they’re perfectly satisfied with their traditional cable/satellite/broadcast TV. Thirty percent of people who said they don’t currently watch internet video on TV responded that they don’t simply because they don’t have the necessary equipment to do so.

Patel noted that there is still “a general lack of interest” in some countries regarding online video viewing on TV. This may be due to a lack of knowledge about the products or services and a lack of necessary infrastructure. Overall, daily usage of TVs to view internet video is less than 30 percent amoung the regions looked at, but growth is most aggressive in China.

Over 14,000 responses were included in this survey.

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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