smart_tvHaving the ability to connect to the Internet and stream content is the most important factor among U.S. households considering the purchase of a new TV or video device, according to a new study carried out by GfK  for the Council for Research Excellence (CRE).

Smart TVs were chosen by the majority of 50 Chicago-area households participating in the 15-week study, which aimed to determine the key drivers motivating consumers’ future video-device purchases. Participants’ online and in-store purchases were monitored via self-reporting, behavior and usage surveys, as well as follow-up questions based on reported data.

Coming in second to smart TVs were over-the-top (OTT) set-top boxes (STBs), such as a Roku or Apple TV device, that enable viewers to stream, time-shift and/or “binge-watch” content. Casting from one device to another, as the Google Chromecast enables, also appealed to study participants.

OTT Device Preference
TV sets with OTT access became the most-used video devices and “generated increased group viewing” when introduced in participating households, CRE noted. Household members continued to spend more time using smart TVs or TVs outfitted with OTT STBs even when other devices were available in the same room.

Other initial key takeaways from the ongoing longitudinal study include:

  • Family and friends — especially children, teenagers and “boomerang” young adults who have returned to parents’ homes — often act as influencers and agents of change, influencing not only technology purchasing decisions but which content is consumed;
  • Consumers have moved from a single-source, single-device “mental model” to a multi-source, multi-device model;
  • A family is likely to watch together on a TV set on weeknights and then watch on laptops in their own rooms between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.; and
  • Where, when and how content is consumed often are determined by negotiation among multiple household members — although typically the father of the household plays the role of “manager” of the remote.

Commenting on the study’s initial results, CRE Digital Research Committee chair and Warner Bros. Media Research & Insights senior VP Bryon Schafer said, “We learned that consumers want to watch content on the best available screen — typically the screen known as the ‘TV’ most often found in the living room. We also learned that kids in many ways are the gatekeepers due to their ability to grasp and advocate new viewing technologies.”

Added research team leader and MEC director, analytics and insight Laura Cowan, “The term ‘watching TV’ has grown to mean the viewing of any long form content on any screen. The program grid is continuing to diminish in importance as consumers adopt technologies that allow them to design their ideal viewing time and place.”

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