NeTVs to Dominate by 2014

According to a report in the Media Daily News, a research study by Futurescape predicts that 54% of all flat panel televisions shipped worldwide in 2014 will have network connectivity so that they can access content from the Internet. The study also forecasts that by five years from now, 40% of all U.S. homes will have at least one television set connected to the Internet.

These numbers are not surprising to me. 100% of all televisions sold in the U.S. have tuners capable of getting signals over the air with an antenna. In spite of this, a small fraction are actually connected to an antenna. It adds little cost to include the tuner (and besides, it’s mandated by the federal government), so every set has one. In the same way, it really doesn’t add much cost to a set when you add network support. The controller of a typical HDTV is already a powerful computer, so the added connectivity is not that big a deal. In fact, Samsung predicts that 70% of all the televisions that they ship in 2014 will have network support.

The more difficult race to handicap at this point is how many of those sets will be connected to the Internet. Sales for devices that retrofit existing HDTVs with Internet capabilities are slower than some expected, so maybe there is not that much demand. On the other hand, Netflix points to all their subscribers who are taking advantage of their all-you-can-eat streaming video service.

My personal take is that streaming video over the Internet remains a mystery to the average American consumer, and they don’t really understand what these retrofit devices and NeTVs can do for them. Also, the quality of the content and the images are slowly improving, but still aren’t to the levels that some consumers demand. I see these factors as shifting steadily in favor of Internet streaming and access to other content on an HDTV. Consumers are going to catch on and the demand will certainly increase. As a result, I expect that a majority of those Internet-capable televisions will be connected by 2014.