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BRIC countries showing greater appetite for Smart TV

Large developing markets such as Brazil, India and China are more likely to fully exploit the capabilities of emerging connected TV platforms and services than their counterparts in developed Western markets such as the US, UK and Germany, which remain stuck in an ‘analogue’ mindset, according to a German research institute GfK.

The company’s latest study on the connected TV revolution also found that Social TV has yet to fully take off, with just 28% of respondents saying that they find programmes which they can interact with more interesting to watch. Barely a quarter of those polled said that tweeting and commenting on programmes enhances the viewing experience.

Richard Preedy, Research Director at GfK, said: “Our findings suggest that broadcasters need to integrate their social elements far more engagingly into the fabric of the programme, to encourage viewers to interact.”

Viewers in countries such as China, Brazil and India were found to be more motivated to interact with programmes than those in the UK, US and Germany, with GfK observing that emerging markets have seen a greater and more rapid uptake of enhanced TV capability, compared to consumers in the markets that are traditionally seen as more developed.

Emerging markets are also likely to use more of the functionality offered by the latest television sets, with three-quarters (75%) of Chinese Smart TV owners utilising its features in the past month, compared to half (or less) of those in the Western markets.

Significantly, the ability to connect to the Internet is trumped by price, screen size and display technology as decisive factors when buying a new TV. However, the disinterest in internet connectivity for TVs is significantly greater in the Western countries than it is in the emerging markets: only 26% of UK and 29% of US consumers say they look out for a net-enabled TV set, compared to 61% in India and 64% in China.

There is however hope on the horizon: GfK’s latest market data shows that demand for Smart TVs is gaining momentum in the West, with sales in the six biggest European countries increasing by 31% in the first half of 2012.

“We are seeing the developing countries such as India, Brazil and especially China viewing an increasing amount of content away from a television set, but also using TV in a more advanced way,” added Mr. Preedy. “They combine viewing a programme with increased levels of online activity – giving us a glimpse into how the West will start to move in the coming years.

“China, India and Brazil essentially are the early adopters at the moment. However, in the coming decade, critical mass will be reached in traditional TV markets such as the UK, US and Germany and the way we all watch programming will be changed forever – finally burying analogue for good.”

Content discovery is still believed to be more important to viewers than interaction: 33% more viewers search for information on the shows they are watching than use social networks to share the experience with friends.

GfK therefore argues that programme makers need to focus on viral campaigns and digital bonus content to enhance the viewers’ experience, rather than looking for viewers to enhance their own experience via interaction.

GfK’s findings also suggest intuitive control will be the next big growth area. They found that 67% are interested in touch and gesture TV control and 43% want to control their TV using something other than the traditional remote control.

With smartphones developing beyond the traditional boundaries of a mobile phone, it is likely that this technology holds an advantage over TV in having already defined its usability credentials in terms of touch and gesture control.

Preedy continues: “While TV does not show any signs of losing its position as the top content-viewing device, other technologies are starting to catch it. The growth of online catch-up and streaming services makes devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and games consoles far more accessible in terms of content delivery and therefore more appealing to viewers looking for content rather than a mechanism for consuming it.

“As a result of this the technology manufacturers and OS developers could hold the key to future content delivery with viewers looking towards the most convenient and intuitive method of consuming this content across their device ecosystem.”

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