GFK LogoPeople in markets such as China, Brazil and India are using connected TV more than those in the UK, US and Germany, according to research carried out across thirteen countries by GfK, a consumer research firm. The study found that western consumers are ‘stuck in an analogue mindset’, whereas viewers in emerging markets have shown more interest in making use of the digital capabilities of connected TV.

Unsurprisingly, GfK’s findings show that, in broad terms, ‘Social TV’ has yet to fully take-off. Only 28% of viewers said that they found programmes that they can interact with to be more interesting to watch, while just 25% thought that tweeting and commenting on programmes ‘enhances the viewing experience’.

Better Integration is Key

Richard Preedy, Research Director at GfK, said that GfK’s findings suggest that broadcasters need to “integrate their social elements far more engagingly into the fabric of the programme” to encourage viewers to interact socially. However, in countries such as China, Brazil and India, people are more motivated to interact with programmes than those in the UK, US and Germany. There has been a significantly higher uptake of connected TV in emerging in comparison to the Western markets that are traditionally seen as more developed. And the desire for connected TV crosses over to making use of the additional functionality. For example, three-quarters (75%) of Chinese smart TV owners used the connected functionality in the past month, compared to half, or less, those in the Western markets.

Price, Screen and Display Still Paramount

In all markets, web connectivity is still seen as less important than price, screen size and display technology when purchasing a new TV. However, the disinterest in internet connectivity for TVs is significantly greater in the Western countries, than in the emerging markets. Only 26% of UK and 29% of US consumers say they look out for a net enabled TV set, compared to 61% in India and 64% in China.

Western Demand Rising

In spite of the fact that web connectivity might not be uppermost in the minds of consumers when buying a television, sales in the six biggest European markets increased by 31% in the first half of 2012.

“We are seeing the developing countries such as India, Brazil and especially China viewing an increasing amount of content away from a television set, but also using TV in a more advanced way. They combine viewing a programme with increased levels of online activity – giving us a glimpse into how the West will start to move in the coming years. China, India and Brazil essentially are the early adopters at the moment. However, in the coming decade, critical mass will be reached in traditional TV markets such as the UK, US and Germany and the way we all watch programming will be changed forever – finally burying analogue for good,” added Richard Preedy.


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  • Magnus

    Do broadcasters really have to do more to integrate social services and interactivity, or is it just that consumers don’t want to use them?

    • Dave G.

      I see where you’re coming from in that some people will never want the additional interactivity, but at the same time I think it’s a good thing if we’re making it easier for those who do.

      It’s also about using social in the right contexts e.g. live TV or on shows that are designed to make people cringe like X Factor and The Apprentice, where I personally believe social can genuinely enhance the experience. But of course this isn’t just about the user experience either – it’s as much (if not more) about driving new viewers to the programme in question.