UK smart TV industry plagued by lack of awareness

Joseph O'Halloran ©RapidTVNews | 23-12-2011

Smart TV growth in the UK is being stymied by a lack of awareness as UK retailers fail to educate consumers of their benefits and provide even the most basic information regarding connected-TV features.
Moreover, even though says Informa Telecoms & Media just over a third (35%) of all TVs sold in 2011 could be categorised as “smart”, this will be as a result of Internet connectivity becoming a default technology in more and more TV sets as standard, rather than an increase in consumer demand.
“While some specialist and mass-market retailers are providing an increasingly interactive shopping experience for smartphones and tablets, connected TVs are yet to be held in the same regard,” explained Andrew Ladbrook, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media. “Store displays and sales assistants tend to focus on TV screen size and quality when making their recommendations to consumers. It seems that smart TV features are an afterthought, but with no internet connection in stores their advantages are quite literally not being seen or heard.”
What the researcher calls a “mystery shopper” survey conducted across the UK’s leading retail chains and pay-TV providers, claims to have revealed that many retailers are ill-equipped to sell connected TVs, with the majority of stores having no Internet connection, no dedicated in-store section and poorly trained sales staff.
Yet while the retail experience was generally negative, Informa found that manufacturers were a lot more adept, promoting connected TVs as a highly desirable product, in a dedicated environment and with more comprehensive websites, which offer links to retailers if not their own retail portals.
Informa raised the interesting comparison between connected TV and the pay-TV industry for which the analyst says that consumers are already strongly aware of what on-demand video services are available to them. It adds that service providers such as BT, Sky and Virgin Media offer dedicated, well-promoted information across more integrated channels. In addition, detailed lifestyle questions ensure consumers are provided with the most suitable products and services – and are open to upselling opportunities.
“Connected TVs can be lost amongst broader range of TVs jostling for consumers’ attention. Retailers have failed to grasp the opportunity that Smart TVs provide them. As long as this situation remains the status quo, pay-TV providers will continue to benefit and will be seen as the providers of on-demand and catch-up services to the TV,” Ladbrook warned.