Study: Consumers are shunning most apps on Smart TVs

Samsung UN46ES6500 3D Smart TV Review

Covered in detail on the official NPD Group blog, the research organization discovered that the majority of Americans that own a smart television simply aren’t utilizing applications beyond streaming video and music.  Approximately six out of ten smart TV owners are using the device to watch Over-the-Top (OTT) video services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. In addition, approximately fifteen percent of smart television owners utilize their TV for listening to Over-the-Top music services like Pandora.

boxee_viewsonic_smart_TVNPD analysts estimate that there are approximately 25 million households with smart televisions in the United States. The applications that attracted the smallest amount of users include social media services Twitter and LinkedIn.

Even Facebook wasn’t popular with less than eight percent of Smart TV owners checking up on the social network through their television. It’s more likely that a consumer will use a second screen, such as a tablet or smartphone, to check up on a social network while watching television. 

Other activities that weren’t popular through smart TV applications included reading books or magazines, accessing maps for directions, posting videos to services like YouTube, calling friends or family over Skype, uploading pictures to services like Flickr, online shopping, playing casual games like Angry Birds or checking out files on a home network. In fact, the only application that managed to attract ten percent of smart TV owners was surfing the Web through a browser displayed on the television screen. 

sony playstation 3 is the most popular netflix streaming device ps3NPD analysts attribute the general lack of application use on smart televisions to the saturation of Internet-connected devices already installed within the home theater. Dedicated video streaming hardware such as the Roku set-top box and Apple TV as well as Blu-ray players, DVRs and gaming consoles have offered the same applications many months before smart televisions were released by companies like Sony, LG, Panasonic and Samsung.

These devices also offer a larger selection of streaming video applications. For instance, Microsoft recently announced an expansion of entertainment content on the Xbox Live service that includes video applications for the CW and PBS networks as well as Vimeo and Crunchyroll. 

In addition, the ability to stream content from a smartphone or tablet to a television is another reason why consumers are ignoring smart TV applications. Called “content throwing” by NPD Group Connected Intelligence Director John Buffone, he stated “This is yet another challenge to the uniqueness of any one TV OEM’s device offering, especially as the throwing technology may also be driven by peripheral devices such as the Xbox. Indeed, the whole peripheral option, combined with emerging technology on specific OEM devices can lead to a host of complexities for consumers. Taking the “throwing,” screen-sharing concept as an example, there are multiple options emerging in the market, such as the Xbox SmartGlass, Samsung AllShare, Apple AirPlay, and many other DLNA variants.”

Rather than attempting to compete with the volume of content options from other sources, it’s likely that television manufacturers will need to work on simplifying the user experience in regards to finding content. Assuming LG utilizes the Google TV platform effectively on the upcoming GA6400 series, it’s possible that feature could differentiate the company from other television manufacturers.