Report: More Buyers Look for Smart TVs

Gaikai Samsung Smart TV - H 2012

Gaikai Samsung Smart TV - H 2012

Netflix, LoveFilm and connected web video players are behind the drive, according to a new survey.

LONDON –  The rise of smart TVs, second screen usage in homes and confusion over what is and isn't piracy provided food for thought for the industry in a report set to be published Wednesday.

Research findings of 2,500 consumers published by U.K. legal eagles Wiggin, whose clients include the British outposts of Hollywood studios, indicate that smart TVs – those connected to the internet – are being plugged in more and more.

According to the Wiggin's Digital Entertainment Survey 2013, Smart TVs offering apps and media content via an internet connection to the set are owned by 23 percent of those surveyed, up from 21 percent last year. And a further 37 percent "expressed interest in purchasing one in the near future," the report says.

Catch-up TV applications such as the BBC iPlayer, ITV player and online subscriber services such as Amazon's Lovefilm and Netflix are the main drivers for the thirst for such devices.

User-generated content applications such as YouTube follows closely behind, Wiggin suggested.

Presenting the research to 300 industry leaders at an invitation only event at the British Museum, Wiggin also noted the impact of the new TVs on more established content platforms such as Rupert Murdoch's satellite pay TV provider Sky and cable company Virgin Media "remains to be seen."

The report also noted a leap in the second screen habit, which sees a laptop, tablet, or smartphone used whilst watching TV.

According to the report 62 percent of viewers claim to use second screens at least once a month.

Second screen use is most popular amongst younger age groups – 88 percent of people aged 15-19 regularly use second screens but there is also a growing usage amongst older age groups - almost two in five people aged 55 to 64 regularly use second screens.

The issue of piracy also provided fuel for thought with the research indicated that consumers are still unsure which actions are lawful and unlawful.

The report said, despite it being illegal, 44 percent think they can lawfully upload (or don’t know whether it is lawful to upload) commercially produced media to a file-sharing website.

And more than a third believe they can lawfully copy (or don’t know whether it is lawful to copy) a film or TV show as a file from a friend?.

The percentage of pirates who regularly use engines such as Google to find unauthorized content stands at 65 with over a quarter using internet searches on a daily basis.

Film and TV remain the leading targets for pirated content with 24 percent of all content accessed by "pirates" being the visual formats.

Music accounts for 22 percent, software is 15 per cent and magazines  stand at 12 percent.

And there is some good news.

Most consumers agree that copyright is important and infringement should be prevented – 68 percent of those asked say that they agree that it is important to protect the creative industries from piracy, up from 55 percent in 2010.

And it appears the industry is playing its part with consumers increasingly confident that they can secure all the content that they need without using "pirate" websites.

Of those asked for the research 62 percent said they could find what they wanted legitimately.

Simon Baggs, partner and head of content protection at Wiggin, said: "The successful development of popular platforms for the legal consumption of media entertainment online is reflected in the changes in consumer attitudes identified in the survey.  With consumers ready for a market that can deliver their content requirements without the need to access pirate sites, effective enforcement now needs to be addressed."