Connected TVViewers in large part aren’t taking advantage of the “smart,” interactive and other features built into the latest generation Internet-connected HDTV sets, though they are using them to access over-the-top (OTT) video services in addition to traditional broadcast offerings, according to a new report from NPD.

Evidence illustrating how viewers are using connected HDTV sets to “provide access to a far wider variety of alternative sources of video content,” the latest NPD Connected Intelligence Application & Convergence report “highlights that nearly 6-in-10 consumers who own a connected HDTV are accessing OTT video services through the device,” according to an NPD press release.

However, NPD analysts also state that, “The Internet connected HDTV screen has so far failed to break beyond the bounds of its TV-centric heritage, with little use for the big screen beyond the obligatory video services.”

The lack of adoption has more to do with long-held, ingrained viewing habits and how they’ve become used to using various electronic devices—gaming consoles, Blu-ray Disc players, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks as well as HDTV sets–rather than “a want of application choice,” according to NPD.

“In general, these have failed to resonate with the audience, not least because there are better platforms, such as the PC, tablet, or smartphone, for such services. The one saving grace to-date has been music services, where the location of the TV and the availability of key music streaming apps such as Pandora has driven reasonable consumer uptake (roughly 15 percent),” NPD analysts note.

The results offer both good and bad news for TV manufacturers, they continue. On the plus side, the TV set continues to be consumers’ primary platform for TV and video viewing within the home, with “an expanded array of programming through OTT services that supplement Pay TV subscriptions.”

On the downside, that manufacturers’ efforts to make the TV more than just a TV aren’t gaining much traction. “Further, we are seeing attached devices also focus heavily on TV and video-centric apps, Microsoft’s upcoming launch of more than 40 additional television apps for the Xbox Live subscription service is one example,” they add.

Multiple OTT Devices
A surfeit of choice “is creating a complex user experience. There are six or more types of devices bringing the Internet to HDTVs: the TV itself, video game consoles, Blu-ray Disc players, streaming media set top boxes, TiVo, and a few audio/video receivers.

“While 15 percent of HDTV displays are connected directly to the Internet, that number increases to 29 percent of HDTVs screens due to these other devices. This is driving the availability of around two connected ecosystems on the same TV screen, leading to a confused user-experience as consumers have more than one way of accessing their favorite TV apps.”

The emergence of “content throwing” capabilities that enables viewers to transfer video content between screens and devices, along with the profusion of peripherals, adds another wrinkle to the equation, according to NPD.

“This is yet another challenge to the uniqueness of any one TV OEM’s device offering, especially as the throwing technology may also be driven by peripheral devices such as the Xbox. Indeed, the whole peripheral option, combined with emerging technology on specific OEM devices can lead to a host of complexities for consumers.”

Rather than concentrating on adding innovations, connected HDTV OEM manufacturers should zoom in on “simplification of the user experience and messaging if they want to drive additional, and new, behaviors on the TV,” they conclude.