According to some recent survey results from consumer research group NPD, smart TVs aren’t doing so well in keeping their owners engaged. Well, outside of watching TV, that is. By and large, consumers aren’t really sure what to do with their large format displays, outside of getting the latest TV shows or movies.
Just under sixty percent of smart TV owners (which is itself a fraction of total HDTV owners) have used their smart TVs to view what the industry calls OTT or “Over-the-top” video content. OTT video is some sort of video content delivered by the Internet, instead of through cable, satellite or OTA. Services such as Netflix or Hulu fall into this category.
After this group, the only noticeable use was in the music sector, with fewer than one in six smart TV owners using some sort of Internet music app, such as Spotify or Pandora. Music has likely achieved what minimal success it has in the smart TV market thanks to the television’s general location and ability to push sound around, either through its own built-in speakers, or through some sort of surround sound system.
Some of this is due, no doubt, to the newness of televisions’ capability to be connected to the Internet – while one in six TVs are directly connected, nearly one in three are connected when one includes external devices such as an Apple TV or equivalent box. But a large degree of the issue seems to stem from the fact that the whole smart TV experience, outside of some video and music, is basically terrible.
The Samsung smart TV shown above is one of the whole concept’s better selling examples. And yet it provides a cluttered user interface that is largely frustrating to use, with multiple UI paradigms, advertisements, multiuser profiles, different sorting mechanisms, multiple ways of accomplishing similar tasks, etc.
In addition, other devices such as smartphones and tablets can often more quickly and easily accomplish some of the same tasks that these smart TV apps purport to offer – updating Facebook from your television set is nothing more than an exercise in frustration for many.
What manufacturers need to concentrate on is the sort of experiences and apps that a television set would excel at, such as displaying information on the actors and producers behind the show on display, showcasing weather forecasts, or other, as-yet-inconceived applications. In addition, of OEMs such as Samsung or LG seriously expect users to start using their smart TVs, they need to strip down the interfaces and make them simple for anyone to use, regardless of general tech level.