Measuring The Real Impact Of Smart TVs

Skype-For-TVSince the introduction of “Smart HDTVs” a couple of years ago I’ve been wondering just how much impact the built-in applications have on the purchase process, and the user experience. A new report from NPD Group sheds some much-needed insight into this area.

The headline of the report states very plainly that, “Internet Connected TVs Are Used To Watch TV, And That’s About All.” Beyond the traditional role of TV the leading role of the smart HDTV seems to be for using “Over-the-top” services like Netflix. Fully 60% of smart TV users report taking advantage of this feature.

The next most common use of the Smart TV is for listening to OTT music services, but that’s only reported as used by around 15% of the installed base. All other applications, including “video calling” services like Skype and Google Chat see use by less than 5% of users.

This certainly explains why I’ve simply never encountered anyone who makes use of Skype on their HDTV as a matter of routine. It also suggests that the availability of such services on the device is not a major factor in someone’s purchase decision process. Factors like 3D/stereoscopic capability carries far more weight.

Comcast-skype-on-xfinity

This also calls into question the viability of different approaches to similar capabilities. For example, it suggests that Comcast is not seeing much uptake of their optional Skype-On-Xfinity video calling add-on. Even if the device is free the $10/mo running cost of the service seems problematic to me.

In contrast, someone who makes the decision to buy a device like the TelyHD or Biscotti products probably has a specific use case in mind. They can justify the $150-250 outlay for the device given zero dollars running cost.

Looking to our own home we don’t have a smart HDTV. We do have a TivoHD connected to each of our HDTVs. The TivoHD units add some new capabilities to the TVs. We watch movies downloaded from Amazon Unboxed and streamed from Netflix. We also occasionally listen to Pandora in this manner.

What’s your experience? Do you own a smart HDTV? Have you used any of it’s built-in apps?