NPD DisplaySearch has released the quarterly Smart TV shipment and forecast report which tracks connected and smart TV shipments by brand, region, display technology and screen size. The report says that over one-quarter of TVs shipped during Q1’12 were equipped with internet connectivity.
The worldwide shipment of TV sets which had internet connectivity was approximately 27%. Japan led with 46% which had networking capability and followed by Western Europe with 36%. China, with 32%, followed Western Europe to set an example to show how internet entertainment is developing rapidly in emerging markets.
The NPD’s report analyzed TV sets by service type.
1. Basic connected TVs can access structured services from broadcasters such as Hbb.TV in Europe, BBC’s iPlayer in the UK, Hulu in the US and AcTVila in Japan. Netflix and YouTube also offer such services.
2. A smart TV can access a branded portal and service, not just publicly available platforms such as YouTube, or broadcaster services. Within this definition of smart TV, there are sub-categories that differ in the nature of the control of the service offering:
I. “Set maker controlled” sets can have unique services from a portal. No two brands are alike, and the services may be configurable as apps.
II. “Consumer controlled” sets can escape the constraints of a portal and allow the consumer to access the whole internet. These sets typically have a browser inside.
20% of all the TVs shipped worldwide were smart TVs, reported NPD. The report also specified that Japan with 36% led the smart TVs shipment followed by China with 30% and Western Europe with 29% of Q1’12. All regions were over one-in-ten, with North America at 18%.
“Connected TV is largely driven by content,” said Paul Gray, Director of TV Electronics Research for NPD DisplaySearch. “Where there are compelling things to watch, the internet becomes a major source of entertainment. We are now seeing a second stage of evolution as internet video relocates from a PC screen onto the TV screen. In particular, Chinese consumers have found plenty to watch on the internet, so internet connectivity follows.”
One of the more surprising findings from the report indicates that no region is being left behind. Developed regions can be expected to have high shipments, and areas with low broadband uptake such as the Middle East and Africa also show a strong interest in internet connectivity.
“It is an interesting trend,” added Gray. ”There are countries in emerging regions where mobile broadband far outnumbers fixed lines, so consumers are looking to share mobile content on a big screen.”
By region, China shipped almost 3.0 million smart TVs followed by Western Europe with 2.1 million units. North America was third with almost 1.4 million units shipped. Strong seasonality linked to the Lunar New Year holiday helped increase shipments in China. Western Europe showed weaker demand as consumers there tend to exhibit more caution toward smart TVs.
By region, the report finds that open internet access is dominant in China, as consumers have a shortage of structured services and want to look elsewhere for content to view. However, 2012 models from all major brands incorporate browsers, and this feature trend is likely to multiply outside of China.
Brands’ shipment mix of smart TVs reflects their regional positioning. Chinese TV brands score well due to high shipments in their home market.