Smart TVs have gained traction over the past few years all over the world. With the change in technology, these TVs are becoming as suitable as personal computers when it comes to web browsing as well as Internet and video browsing.

Advanced technology has given a new dimension to the field of entertainment and has expanded beyond one’s imagination. Smart TV is one of these advanced technologies that have emerged with diverse features. It is the 21st century entertainment system that has given a versatile appearance to the world of entertainment behind the veil of technology.

New data from Nielsen reveals huge growth in the usage of smart TV. Despite the focus on mobile video in 2016, it is the smart TV that saw the greatest growth. The demand of the hour has brought smart TV in the market. Around 60 percent of the TVs sold these days are smart TVs. Technological advancement is the only key factor behind the success of the smart TV technology in the market. Depending on the current scenario of the global smart TV market revenue, high demand is expected over the next 5 years. 

Market Dynamics

Market forecasts are very optimistic. The total smart TV market is estimated at USD 265 billion in 2016, with unit shipment estimated at 153.2 million according to MarketsandMarkets.

One of the major trends is the rising acceptance of smart TVs in advertising, which aids advertisers in flourishing their customer base. Higher spending on electronic items by consumers is one of the major growth drivers which is anticipated to bolster the market till 2025. Potential growth for consumer’s preference for smart TV, rising investments for technological advancement by leading manufacturers, and entrance of major players are key growth factors, which will foster demand for smart TV market. Additionally, growing volume of Internet user across the globe will further aid in market penetration. Over the past few years, consumer’s preference has evolved with increasing preference for built-in smart functions as an essential feature for any device, which is also projected to boost the growth of the market. Rising demand for HDR and 4K resolution features for both content and hardware access will accelerate the smart TV market globally. The commercial sector is also experiencing higher growth in the global market. Smart TV platforms offer information and communication (IC) technology solutions to the end-user; this is also fueling the global smart TV market growth. Higher feasibility in the potential applications also led the global market to higher growth.

North America is a leading market for smart TV and is expected to witness a surging demand in the near future on account of rapid technological advancement and increasing adoption for techno-friendly features, such as Netflix and other services in the region. However, Asia-Pacific contributed the largest market share in the global smart TV market owing to acceptance of smart TVs in large quantities, the burgeoning population, and high disposable income in the region. In addition, the entrance of major players, growing demand for online content media services among consumers, and increasing investment to expand the vehicle market, especially in China and India, will further foster the market demand for smart TV among Asian populations.

Smart TV market in India is still in the nascent stage but is displaying a healthy growth rate. More than 50 percent of flat TVs in India are expected to be smart TVs by 2017. The market growth is expected to stem mostly from the increasing demand for web-enabled TVs from individual customers, encouraged by the increasing number of functions and features offered by the smart TV vendors. With a population of over a billion, India is one of the major developing countries with huge middle-class population base and rising per capita income. The Indian consumers have shown positive response to TVs with display size of 32-inch and above. Backed by favorable government policies and increasing number of DTH users, the demand for televisions, especially smart TVs, is expected to propel the growth of the country’s television market during 2016–2021. Over the period of time, the country’s television market has seen numerous technological advancements. Unlike growing demand for small versions of consumer electronic products, the television industry in the country has been registering a reverse trend. In India, consumers are opting for big screen televisions for better viewing experience. In order to cash in on the growing demand for big screen televisions, manufacturers in the country are introducing them with features such as smart at affordable prices.

Big Changes in Smart TV

The television sector all across the world is facing a deep restructuring. Smart TVs have gained traction over the past few years all over the world. Due to effectiveness and efficiency, smart TVs have gained various features and become affordable. Thus, change is in the wind for the smart TV market.

John Buffone

"With an ever-increasing number of connectable devices expected to be connected to the Internet, viewers will have the ability to choose their preferred option instead of using the only device they have attached to their TV. This shift will inevitably result in diminished usage for some devices. The integration of streaming media player operating systems into TVs points to the beginning of a consolidation of operating systems that app developers will need to focus on in order to reach their audience."

John Buffone
Executive Director-Industry Analyst,
NPD Connected Intelligence

Mandatory functionality, too costly for many. TV manufactures recognize smart TV functionality is now a mandatory feature for most TV shoppers. However, they have come to realize the costs to develop, maintain, promote, and extend their own platform cannot be offset against any uplift in revenue from the feature. Simply put, it is a checkbox item that no longer commands a premium price. A better strategy for TV OEMs, and their customers, is to hand the burdens of the smart TV portal to a company better positioned to support and monetize it. Many are now doing this.

Streaming media player providers step up. Streaming media player manufacturers have stepped into the breach to license their platforms to smart TV manufacturers. This makes a lot of sense for them. Their business models are supported by as broad a distribution as possible for the apps and channels they bring to their users. They also have teams in place to handle the development, maintenance, and support of a robust app delivery platform. Roku TV platform can be found on Hitachi, Insignia, TCL, Haier, Hisense, and Sharp televisions. Earlier this year, Amazon began licensing its Fire TV platform to Seiki, Westinghouse and Element Manufacturers for their higher-end TVs. The Fire TV edition includes Amazon’s Alexa intelligent assistant. Google is not licensing the Chromecast platform to manufacturers. It is, however, offering up its Android TV platform. Two OEMs, Sony and Sharp, have models in market leveraging the platform. Expect all but the very biggest TV manufacturers to abandon their own platforms this year and move to Roku TV, Fire TV, or Android TV in time for CES 2018.

The biggest manufacturers stay the course, maybe. No matter the traction streaming set-top boxes and dongles keep gaining, some TV manufacturers do not appear willing to abandon their own smart TV platforms, looking instead to add more to them. LG’s webOS version 3.5 adds some enhancements to bolster the existing feature set. Samsung will continue to develop and promote its own smart TV platform, Smart Hub.

The Future

Back then, they took the form of relatively dumb TVs with a few features added on top. It is a stretch to characterize these systems as operating systems similar to those employed in the mobile space. It is perhaps important to emphasize that smart features will be included in more TVs than ever before despite a renewed focus on HDR and picture quality in general. Combination of hardware and software drives development of products in the electronics industry, but the TV market has been dominated by manufacturers with core competencies in hardware. Most of the manufacturers have again and again fumbled trying to develop software for TVs, which is why most of them have either found a software partner or acquired a platform. Still, some insist that they have what it takes to create an operating system for TV. That is where US-based companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, and to some extent Amazon, shine. Software created by hardware companies most often end up being abandoned.

There are signs of change – Google wants to unite manufacturers under Android TV much like mobile; Apple is using the Apple TV box to lay the foundation for the tvOS operating system; Roku OS is now in 13 percent of new smart TV in USA; and Amazon’s Fire TV platform is implemented in streaming boxes and soon Fire TVs.

These standard interfaces mean TV makers can focus on the hardware development and leave the software to third parties, resulting in budget TVs that are still loaded with the connected features users want. It also means the constant battle between big-name smart TV platforms and the inconsistent availability of apps is effectively over. And even more importantly, few existing smart TVs will be updated with the new features.