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UK smart TV take-up at 7%, with lag in superfast broadband

Seven per cent of UK consumers had a smart TV at the end of the March 2013, and of those 77% have connected it to the internet, a report out today from regulator Ofcom reveals.
Ofcom’s 10th annual communications market report also reveals a lag in take-up of superfast broadband in the UK. Despite the fact that superfast broadband is now available in nearly three quarters of the UK, less than 20% of all fixed broadband connections were superfast by the end of March this year.

More than 50% of those who had switched to superfast broadband said they worked from home as a result. Seven in 10 said superfast had increased the amount of high-definition content they had streamed. Of all adults in the UK, 75% now have fixed and mobile broadband, with speeds averaging 12Mbps.

The report says that 97% of UK homes now have a digital TV. Although two thirds of homes have access to a catch-up service, 90% of all viewing in 2012 was still live.

Households increasingly only own one TV, with the number of children with TVs in their bedrooms falling. Ofcom suggests that this could be because people own more devices on which they can view content, meaning children are more likely to move around the home holding mobile devices.

Ofcom also reports that most people in the UK still watch TV shows in their living rooms, but more are using other devices at the same time. Nine in 10 UK adults tune in to their main TV once a week – but more than half (53%) now multi-task on second devices. One in four share opinions about shows as they watch them, either through texting or social media.

The report says that most people share using smartphones, but are increasingly using tablets. A quarter of the UK adult population now owns a tablet, and households now own more than three internet-enabled devices on average.

Ofcom also reports that total UK TV industry revenues rose marginally by 0.8% (£103m) in nominal terms to £12.3bn in 2012, in contrast to significantly higher growth rates in the previous two years, when revenues rose by 5.7% in 2010 and by 4.5% in 2011.

Commenting on smart TV take-up, Ofcom says: “Although the most popular reason for buying a smart TV is not the internet functionality, consumers are increasingly likely to take advantage of this.”

Ted Hall, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, commented: “The Ofcom report confirms TV’s rude health, and highlights some clear winners and losers in the battle for the living room. While tablets and smartphones are playing an increasingly prevalent role in TV viewing and interaction, smart TVs are struggling for relevance, with penetration at just 7% and only 18% of people buying them primarily for their video-streaming capabilities.

“Ofcom’s latest findings confirm Informa’s belief that connected set-top boxes and games consoles will be the key devices for delivering video services to living-room TV sets, leaving some of the major consumer-electronics manufacturers out in the cold.”

Read Ofcom’s 10th communications market report.

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