smart_tvTelevision set manufacturers and retailers are facing an uphill struggle when it comes to selling smart, Internet-enabled TV sets. Nearly three quarters (73%) of U.S. consumers aren’t interested in buying one anytime in the next 12 months, according to new survey results from IHS’ TV Systems Intelligence Service.

The news for vendors isn’t all bad, however. Purchase intent “rises markedly when consumers are aware of what smart TVs are, showing that the product’s chances of market success can improve with just a little market education,” IHS states in a press release.

Smart TV purchase intent was just 7% among those unaware of the product. Among those who said they were aware of the product, 30% said they intend to purchase a smart TV in the next 12 months.

“The latest results of the IHS U.S. TV Consumer Survey show that TV makers have both a challenge and an opportunity when it comes to selling consumers smart TVs,” elaborated Veronica Thayer, IHS analyst for consumer electronics and technology.

“Few consumers at present want to buy smart TVs now. However, demand can be cultivated if television brands better explain to consumers what smart TVs are, what they do and why they should buy one.”

Those that do own smart TVs are making use of their distinguishing features, IHS found. Nearly 90% of respondents said they had connected their sets to the Internet while 80% said they had used them to access over-the-top (OTT) Internet TV services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon and Instant. “This shows that alternative video services are becoming more popular and relevant among U.S. consumers,” Thayer commented.

Furthermore, the percentage of smart TV owners who said they regularly access OTT services is similar to that for users that stream content from Roku and Apple TV, where 86% and 79% of owners of the respective set-top boxes (STBs) reportedly use their devices to watch Internet video.

Smart TV owners also tend to own smartphones and/or tablets, IHS found, “which creates an opportunity for secondary-screen applications, including content discovery, content sharing/mirroring and remote control.” Seventy-five percent of smart TV owners own a smartphone, while 65% have a tablet, according to IHS.

IHS market researchers also found that while U.S. consumers still love big screens, they’re more price-sensitive this year than they were in 2012. Price overtook screen size as the most important factor for TV purchases in IHS’ 2013 survey. In 2012, over 50% of survey respondents said that screen size was a factor in their purchase decision.

Light-emitting-diode (LED) backlighting technology rather than Internet connectivity or 3-D has been driving purchases of TV sets in the U.S. over the past two years, IHS notes.

Consumers are more interested in smart TVs as opposed to 3-D TVs, according to IHS. Two to three times more survey respondents said Internet connectivity was a factor in their TV purchases as compared to 3-D.

More than 25% of U.S. consumers bought a new TV set last year, while the number of respondents indicating they intended to purchase one next year declined. Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they had purchased a TV set within the past 12 months, while another 20% said they intend to do so within the next 12 months. That compares to respective survey results of 34% and 31% in 2012.

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