Advanced Television

Viewers turned off by complex remote controls

March 16, 2016

Consumers living in multi-media homes are asking for the simplest form of remote control to control their growing number of devices, according to a study conducted by independent market research company Trendbox, on behalf of Universal Electronics.

The insightful research suggests that consumers are being overwhelmed by the number of household zappers and the complexity of the different remote controls. While consumers welcome the explosion in content and diversity of viewing options, consumers want to be able to control it in the simplest, most intuitive way. The vast majority of viewers (80 per cent) said they want a control device that is easy to use and easy to set up to access their content.

The survey, involving 1,812 participants in the UK, France and Germany, looked at the daily TV watching habits of viewers across the three European countries, including the way audiences control their TV’s. Results showed that the average number of TVs was two per home, and together with the multitude of other systems, the average number of remotes in each household was 3.3.

Menno Koopmans, senior VP subscription broadcasting, Universal Electronics says: “The surge in content and device options that has led to greater levels of complexity in people’s homes is being reflected in the number of remote controls that attempt to incorporate too many functions and options. Each zapper tends to be used to control a separate device and clearly what consumers are asking for is a remote that controls everything with absolute ease.”

The research showed that almost one quarter of the combined TV audiences has been attracted by the prospect of having a single multi-purpose zapper, and has used a universal remote in their homes. The motive for this choice is simple – with 32 per cent saying it is easier than using multiple remotes. Convenience, or the perception of it, is rated more important than price or practical motives.


As demand for advanced remote controls increases, one of the challenges for manufacturers is to avoid the temptation of multiplying the number of buttons on the device, as this seems to add to the confusion and complexity for users, 41% want remotes to have fewer buttons. Roughly one third (34 per cent) of all consumers in each country surveyed admit that they use only a few keys on their remote – with basic buttons in most common use – volume control (74%), on/off button (64%) and channel navigation buttons (63%).


Models that make use of voice, motion and touch pads have started to affect the way in which viewers navigate through content and find new entertainment choices. One in six consumers in each of the TV audiences has used or tried a remote control with the latest interactive functionalities. However, on average, these were not evaluated in the most positive light – on a scale of 1 (horrible) to 10 (fantastic) – consumers rated voice control 6.0 on average, motion control 6.0 and touch pad control 6.5.

“The overarching theme from the survey is that consumers want to do more with less. Despite viewers wanting advanced functionality, their demands are relatively straight forward. Control preferences include pointing to the TV to navigate and a remote that understands the devices in their living room and automatically programs and configures itself to operate all of them. People want their homes to be smart, but their control to be simple.” concludes Koopmans.

Categories: Articles, Consumer Behaviour, Equipment, Research