Growing Demand for Web-Enhanced TVs

Parks Associates recently released a white paper about U.S. consumer interest in broadband services delivered to their TVs. Nearly 50% of the respondents expressed interest in getting premium services (for a fee) such as streaming movie rentals and video on demand using a set top box connected to their TVs. Interestingly, about 40% would like to have these features built right into their TVs without the need for an extra box.

I was also surprised to find that more than a third of U.S. broadband households are interested in having Internet-fed widgets on their TV screens. These are the little boxes that can report the news, weather, sports, or finanicial data.

Personally, I find that the screens these days are cluttered too much already, with network “bugs” that stay on through the entire show, to the animated extravaganzas that use the graphics equivalent of a ransom note to try to draw your attention away from the current programming to tell you about some upcoming show. (And you know that when you watch that show, it will be visually interrupted to tout some other show.) So I’m not so keen on the idea of widgets. A better solution is to get WiFi and an inexpensive netbook, and get all your widget information that way. And this will let you check your email or look up a Web site related to the show you’re watching without messing up the TV screen for other people who may also be watching with you. (I read about a study recently that reports that a surprising number of people use laptops while they’re watching TV.)

But for me, the idea of streaming all sorts of video and movies on demand over the Internet makes a great deal of sense. Now that half the market seems to agree, expect to see this market segment heat up rapidly.