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Smartphone Firms Storm Smart TV Market, Thanks To Low Data Tariffs

Leading smartphone brands such as Xiaomi, Micromax, Redmi (a sub-brand Xiaomi) and OnePlus are set to disrupt the smart television space, which has so far been dominated by electronics giants Sony, LG, Samsung and Panasonic. Internet-enabled smart TVs, which are a relatively new segment in India, are expected to see a major boost on the back of lower data tariffs, which have resulted in a massive uptick in online video consumption.

While Xiaomi is already present in this space, its sub-brand Redmi, whose smartphones are quite popular in India, is expected to launch smart TVs soon. Given the value it offers for its price point in the smartphone space, Mi TVs are also likely to be available at competitive prices.

This week, OnePlus, the maker of the hugely popular OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T handsets, too announced that it would come out with smart TVs in September. The Chinese phone-maker is expected to woo consumers with smart TVs that are as aggressively priced as its feature-rich phones.


“Over the past six years, we have achieved great success in India in large part because of our passionate and supportive community… The OnePlus TV is such an important product for all of us, and we can’t wait to see it in living rooms all over India,” OnePlus founder Pete Lau said in a blogpost on the company’s website.

OnePlus TV, the company’s first offering outside of smartphone and mobile accessory categories, will initially be available in India, followed by launches in international markets such as North America, Europe and China.

Experts tracking this space believe that the entry of smartphone brands into this segment will likely usher in a new sub-category of smart TV at highly attractive prices, resulting in stiff competition amongst the players. Xiaomi entered the smart TV space in February 2018 with the launch of Mi LED Smart TV 4 at a price of Rs 39,999. Since then, it has come out with lower-priced models, with the cheapest — a 32-inch LED TV — selling for as little as Rs 12,999. In May this year, Xiaomi said it had sold 2 million units of Mi TVs.

Micromax, which started selling smart TVs in 2016-17, recently announced its plans to launch a range of Android-powered smart televisions, starting at Rs 13,999. According to IDC, in the first quarter of 2019, Xiaomi had a 39 percent market share in smart TVs in volume, followed by LG at 15 percent and Sony at 14 percent. The entry of phone-makers into the smart TV segment comes at a time when over-the-top (OTT) video platforms such as Netflix, Hotstar, Zee5 and Amazon Prime Video are witnessing a strong growth in India.

According to a May report by Google, India’s online video audience is expected to touch 500 million by 2020, with an estimated 40 million Indians coming to the Internet every year.

With Reliance Jio’s launch of JioFiber home broadband, household video and content consumption is expected to rise even further. Jio, which has garnered over 300 million mobile subscribers in the three years since it went live, will offer its home broadband service for just Rs 700 a month.

Smart TVs have pre-installed OTT apps and other offerings which serve as a distribution channel for OTTs and earn revenues for the TV brands.

OnePlus, which partnered with Netflix to have the OTT app pre-installed in its new OnePlus 7 handset, is exploring similar partnerships for its TV offering, founder Lau added in the blog post.

The idea is to capture the screen-time of the average consumer, explains Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint Research. “TVs are now coming with computer-styled operating systems, which allow consumers to access a range of video apps, games and other services. And this is enhancing the stickiness of consumers towards smart televisions.”―Business Standard

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