Friday, 26 October 2012

Smart TVs Help TV Overtake PC For Online Video Viewing

A recent study from the NPD group in the US has revealed that the television has now overtaken the PC as the preferred device for viewing over-the-top (OTT) media. The rapid adoption of smart TVs obviously has a large part to play in this, but we’ve also seen that many smart TVs have ease-of-use problems and so the growth in smart TVs alone may not be enough to account for this trend.

Smart TVs have some obvious benefits over the PC for viewing media content – the large screen and the “lean back” user experience are pretty much essential for watching content that’s longer than a few minutes.  As a regular user of iPlayer, I much prefer to use it on the Wii (for those times when the entire family wants to watch something) or on my iPad (for when I’m the only one who wants to watch something) because they’re more convenient and comfortable to use.  While I could connect my laptop to the TV and use that, the difference in resolutions and the hassle of getting audio set up properly means I simply don’t bother.  I’d rather watch a standard-definition version of the programme easily than deal with the messing around required to watch the HD version on the big screen.

As online media services become more widely deployed through smart TVs and set-top boxes (with both YouView and Freesat doing this in the UK, and various HbbTV-based catch-up TV services available in Germany), viewing OTT content is eventually going to become just another part of the TV experience, in the same way that PVR functionality already is today.

At the same time, there’s still a long way to go – recent figures have revealed that three quarters of YouView boxes sold so far have been used to view on-demand content for more than three minutes per session.  Given that the current purchasers are by definition the early adopters, who are more likely to be familiar with catch-up TV services, this is not a very impressive set of numbers.  Seeing how these numbers grow as YouView and Freesat’s Freetime service become more widely deployed will give a good indication of how this trend will develop in the UK.

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