Smart TVs and our changing viewing habits

We like to keep on top of the latest technological trends here at Code, so in this blog, we’re going to take a look at smart TVs and our modern TV viewing habits.

If you’re not familiar, a smart TV connects to the internet to give you access to a range of extra services — you can stream rental films, watch catch up TV, use social media, and even browse the web, straight from your sofa.

This time last year, I went to the Manchester Digital ‘Emerging TV’ event where there was a lot of debate about whether consumers would actually want to replace their standard TV with smart TVs. Even now, there’s still some uncertainty about how well they’ll perform in the long term, especially as the Playstation 4 PS4 and other devices already allow you to hook up to the internet direct from your TV.

Still, Ofcom reports that 7% of UK households bought a smart TV in the first quarter of 2013 — a 2% increase on the previous year — and sales have seen a steady increase.

I recently bought a smart TV myself, and I’m already converted. I was surprised at that amount of apps you can download for free, and though you can tell that some of them are still in their infancy, you can see how they could develop in the future.

The fact is that people don’t watch TV like they used to. Very few people just turn on and then stick with whatever’s being broadcasted right then, or plan their evenings around the TV guide. Consumers now choose what they want to watch at a time that’s convenient to them; if we take a look at the stats surrounding ITV on demand services & BBC iPlayer, you can see that more and more people are watching TV ‘on demand’.

In addition, more and more people are also turning to their laptops to get their TV fix, although the lack of picture quality can be frustrating. I suppose that’s where the smart TV comes in — providing the accessibility of your laptop, but with higher definition results.

With more expensive TVs becoming cheaper and therefore more widely accessible, I think these newer technologies will soon become the norm as, instead of ‘second screening’ with their phone or mobile, consumers become used to being able to do it all through their TV.

But I think it’s interesting to consider that, even though viewers now have the option to watch their favourite programmes whenever they’d like, the desire to share and swap opinions on social media ‘as it happens’ means that the ‘TV event’ will probably always have a role to play too. And Smart TVs will make it even easier to take part in the conversation directly.

The future of TV’s shaping up to be interesting: everyone’s been talking about the recent CES conference and the new technology that’ll some be available, such as the 4K TVs that offer an extremely high resolution picture.

Definitely an interesting one to watch.