Connected TV Households Climb To 42 Million

The number of U.S. households with a TV connected to the Internet grew to 42 million in the first quarter, up almost 17% from a year ago.
The vast majority of that increase was driven by the rise in the number of homes with connected TVs or TVs linked online through a video-game console, Blu-ray disc player or a streaming media player, according to a new NPD report.
For the first time, there are now more U.S. homes with a streaming media player like Roku or Apple TV than Blu-ray disc players connected to the Internet. The streaming media audience now spans 15 million homes versus 13 million for an Internet-connected Blu-ray player.
Last month, Apple said it has sold 20 million units of its media-streaming media box to date, while Roku had sold 8 million of its streaming-video units as of early this year. These have been joined by newer devices like Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV.
“Consumers want devices that can deliver high-quality content to their TVs,” said John Buffone, executive director of NPD’s Connected Intelligence service. “The increase in Connected TV and streaming media player penetration is proof that consumers are investing in solutions that can provide app-related content in the simplest, most effective way.”
When it comes to accessing apps on TV, being able to connect devices wirelessly is the most important feature for viewers. Two-thirds (67%) of connected TV users said having a WiFi-compatible box influenced their decision regarding what device they preferred to use for apps on TV. Other top considerations included an easy-to-use remote and home screen, no buffering when watching, and availability of HD programming.
Waiting for programming to load -- the dreaded spinning wheel -- remains a sticking point for streaming media on TV. About four in 10 connected TV users say their not completely satisfied or somewhat satisfied when it comes to buffering for TV apps, according to NPD.
Consider this is five years after TV operators and networks began introducing TV Everywhere apps, and devices like Apple TV and Samsung Smart TV’s hit the market. Still, Buffone emphasized that companies can continue to improve their products, even if streaming itself can be balky.
“While device manufacturers cannot solve all of the challenges inherent in Internet content delivery, they can ensure viewers have an easy-to-use remote and home screen as well as facilitate content discovery,” he noted.
The NPD findings are based on its Connected Home report, surveying 5,000 U.S. adults in the first quarter. (The number of installed and Internet connected devices includes those that deliver broadband applications and must actually be connected to the Internet.) The results also draw on a separate NPD survey of 3,800 people asking about their awareness, usage and interest in connected TV apps.
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