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Connected Smart TVs Advance As Cloud Tech Grows Thicker

NEW YORK – Smart TVs are rapidly becoming a staple as the technology spreads deeper into manufacturers’ product lines, leaving suppliers of overthe- top (OTT) video services in even greater position for growth from Cloudsupported technology.

This year, the trend toward wireless streaming of video content in the home has become more pervasive than ever.

According to market research from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), smart TVs will account for 43 percent of display shipments this year, increasing to 74 percent by 2018. The association is now forecasting U.S. smart- TV unit shipments to reach 16.3 million in 2014, up 36 percent from 2013.

The CEA defines a smart TV as a TV with consumer-oriented apps loaded on the set that deliver Internet-based content through an Internet connection.

The CEA’s updated estimation of smart-TV penetration now stands at 24 percent of U.S. households. That’s expected to grow another 17 percent in 2015 to 21.5 million units.

With greater volume comes greater competition, which has continued to drive down smart-TV prices, while generating greater unit sales increases. The CE forecasts the average wholesale price for a smart TV to drop 1 percent this year to $799 from $805 in 2013. That’s expected to drop another 3 percent to $779 next year.

As a result, factory dollar volume is expected by the CEA to grow 35 percent to $13 billion this year and $14.9 billion in 2015.

Meanwhile, a recent study from market research firm Parks Associates Market Intelligence found 55 percent of U.S. broadband households subscribe to an OTT video service, opening up new opportunities for Cloud solutions.

“Over 50 percent of U.S. broadband households have at least one TV series that they never miss,” said Glenn Hower, Parks research analyst. “Offering multiple content options is increasingly important as more consumers turn to connected CE and mobile devices for their video, audio and other media needs.”

Parks forecasted growth for consumer interest in Cloud DVR technology, with 45 percent of U.S. broadband households, calling it “very appealing.”

Parks said television screens are still the preferred method for watching video among a majority of U.S. broadband households.

On average, consumers spend over 20 hours each week watching video on TV screens, compared with 1.3 hours on tablets and 1.6 hours on smartphones each week, Parks said.

Manufacturers addressing all segments of the market are stepping up smart-TV systems this year, most of which now integrate Wi-Fi connectivity.

Value-focused TV brands Hisense and TCL recently introduced the first Roku-integrated TVs to appeal to mass-market consumers, while JVC is offering lines of Roku-Streaming-Stickready LCD TVs.

At the high end, Samsung continues to expand its Smart Hub, Sony continues to build on its advanced smart-TV system, and LG has introduced its stepup smart TVs powered by webOS.

Other first-tier brands, such as Sharp, Panasonic and Toshiba, are also offering more processing power, and advanced menus with greater personalization and advanced program-search capabilities.