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Internet connections to Smart TVs grow as streaming options increase

Daniella Genovese

Smart TVs are becoming more of a norm now than ever before as a younger generation of Americans continues to rely more on streaming services than traditional television, according to research from Parks Associates.

More than 70 percent of broadband households across the United States now own at least one streaming entertainment product and 50 percent own a smart TV, the firm found.

Roughly 77 percent of smart TVs owned by broadband households are now connected to the internet, an uptick from only 62 percent in 2014, according to the firm which conducted a survey of roughly 10,000 respondents in 2019.

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The findings were released during what has come to be known as "streaming wars" which is the rush by networks, movie studios and others to get platforms for their content to the market. Services like Apple TV+, Disney+ and the anticipated HBO Max have been seen to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, but the trend is also edging out broadcast television because their trove of content options is available on demand.

In some cases, these services have pushed households to "cut the cord" which is seen as a way to save money and watch more content on-demand.

"Manufacturers have invested in improvements to the app and user experience on their smart TVs and are being rewarded with higher connection rates, which keeps the user within their ecosystem," Parks Associates Senior Analyst Kristen Hanich said.

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The drive to buy smart TVs comes in part from the increased adoption of so-called over-the-top, or OTT, services, which are media services offered directly to viewers via the Internet such as HBO Now, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon, by millennials, the generation born between 1983-1998, and Generation Z, born after 1999 the oldest of whom would be in college or high school, according to the analysis.

In fact, the firm found that 72 percent of broadband households subscribe to at least one OTT streaming service.

The shift in preferences, however, provides challenges to TV makers, the analysis shows.

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"Overall television ownership is beginning to decline, even as smart TV adoption grows," Hanich said. "Millennials and Generation Z collectively represent the largest segment of TV buyers, but their unique demands on the TV are forcing manufacturers to rethink the role and form factor of the TV set."

The chance of owning a basic TV set increases with those born 1945 and earlier, according to the firm. To date, the analysis showed roughly 40 percent of broadband households have basic TVs.

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FOX Business' Matthew McNulty and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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