smart_tvIn what may amount to a “tipping point” for Over The Top (OTT) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), just over half – 51% – of the U.S. population age 13 to 54 now watches TV programs or movies via streaming video, according to a new report from market researchers at GfK.

According to GfK’s,”How People Use Media: Over-the-Top TV 2013,” the weekly viewing audience for streaming TV and movies in the U.S. surpassed the 50% mark during the past year, having increased from 37% three years ago to 48% in 2012.

The proliferation of “smart,” Internet-connected devices – TVs, smartphones and tablets, videogame consoles, set-top boxes and the like – along with the rapid rise of streaming video service providers and widening penetration of broadband Internet access have come together to fuel growth in the viewing of streaming video, turning a “tecchie phenomenon into a mainstream entertainment source,” GfK states in a press release.

More Americans are using tablets and smartphones to watch streaming video: 5% of consumers use a tablet to do so while 4% use a smartphone, according to research results. Three in five of those who watch streaming video on one or the other said they watch streaming video using an app; 1/3 said they stream directly from a website.

Key factors for streaming video, smart TVs “may be poised to have an even greater impact,” according to GfK. Though 27% of U.S. households said they have a “streaming-capable HDTV,” only 1/5, or 5% of all households, said they’re using it to view streaming TV or movies on a weekly basis.

Research results also show “dramatic differences in streaming video use among different generations.” Nearly 2/3 of Gen Y consumers (13-33) stream TV or movies weekly. That falls to 46% for Gen X (34-47) and to 30% of Boomers (48-54).

“The synergies between consumers and their connected devices are radically transforming video entertainment,” said David Tice, Senior Vice President of GfK’s Media and Entertainment team. “Streaming video is giving consumers more and more control over their viewing – and forcing content providers to reinvent their business models. As broadband connections and mobile devices continue to improve, this trend is bound to accelerate, creating a host of opportunities for those who can think ahead of the next technology.”

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