A YouGov survey of the nation’s TV habits reveals that only one third (37 per cent) of Britons planning to buy a Smart TV said that connecting to the Internet through it – the ‘smart’ part of a Smart TV – was a factor in buying one. The most common reason for intending to buy a Smart TV is simply having a more up-to-date TV – cited by 50 per cent of potential purchasers.
The most important feature of Smart TVs amongst people who already own one is the picture quality (cited by 96 per cent of owners) followed by the size of the screen (93 per cent) then sound quality (89 per cent).
According to Dan Brilot, YouGov’s Media Consulting Director, the ‘smart’ part of a Smart TV is not yet the main reason people are buying them, suggesting that it’s more about future-proofing their TV set in the same way that lots of people bought HD TVs even before HD channels were available.” I think many early adopters of Smart TV are buying them for the sake of owning the latest gadget. We see the profile (in terms of tech adoption) as very similar between iPad and Smart TV owners at the moment. These are the kind of people who are willing to make a big ticket purchase without quite realising what they’ve bought,” he advised.
Furthermore, suggests YouGov, only half (53 per cent) of Smart TV owners correctly identified a Smart TV as a TV that directly connects to the Internet without the need of another device; while one in four (25 per cent) Smart TV owners have never used it to connect to the Internet.
“You wouldn’t imagine that a quarter of people on any other Internet-led device hadn’t used it to go online – especially at this stage of the adoption curve,” observed Brilot.” Manufacturers need to understand what the USP of a Smart TV is, either understanding a current need or creating one – as Apple do so well – rather than bundling together different technologies without the necessary thought as to how they might be used together.”
YouGov suggests that Sony could well be overtaken by Samsung in the near future as the manufacturer of choice for Smart TV owners. Amongst Smart TV owners, over one third (36 per cent) have a Sony, followed by Samsung (33 per cent) then Panasonic (16 per cent). However, almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of people planning to purchase one in the next 12 months are considering Samsung followed by Sony (48 per cent) and Panasonic (40 per cent).
Over one quarter (26 per cent) say they plan to buy an Apple TV, even though the manufacturer has not yet launched one. Apple is also seen as the most stylish and innovative Smart TV brand; LG is seen as representing the best value for money while Hitachi is seen as the most outdated.
Brilot suggests that Sony is seen as the quality or premium brand favoured by the early tech adopters – late twenty- or thirty-something men – but Samsung is the brand working the hardest and most successfully to bring Smart TV to the masses through its advertising campaigns, as well as leading the way in the availability of apps on the sets. “Although nine in ten Smart TV owners are satisfied with them, one thing all manufacturers need to focus on is the user interface. This feature has the biggest disparity between importance and performance,” he notes.
With 14 per cent of UK households set to own one in the next year, Smart TVs are likely to have a big impact on traditional viewing habits, suggests YouGov. Just over one in three (35 per cent) Smart TV owners say they now spend more time watching TV through ‘on-demand’ services, such as BBC’s iPlayer, than they do watching traditional ‘linear’ TV. This behaviour is even more pronounced amongst 18-24 year olds with a Smart TV– 53 per cent of whom say the majority of TV they watch is ‘on-demand – as well as Smart TV owners with pre-school children (51 per cent).