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Streaming Media Devices Rise, Connected TVs Lag

8 May, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. – About half of home entertainment devices in the U.S. are connected and being used online, but only 30 percent of connected TVs and 32 percent of Blu-ray players in U.S. homes are actually connected and used for online access, says a new study from NPD Group.

Streaming media players and video game consoles are connected and used the most, while connected TVs and Blu-ray disc players are the least likely to be tied to the web and used for their online features.

NPD, which surveyed more than 4,000 U.S. adults in first-quarter 2013 for the study, predicts that by next year streaming media players such as Apple TV and Roku will surpass the number of Blu-ray players installed and connected to the Internet, although it has not yet released figures in relation to that prediction. The overall number of Blu-ray players will still be higher than those of streaming devices in households.

John Buffone of NPD says streaming media devices are gaining ground in the over-the-top content market because their products are geared more toward online content delivery. He adds that while many Blu-ray players now come equipped with apps like Netflix, it’s a “relatively stagnant array of apps” that users can access, but a Roku device – for example – regularly gets new content.

Not to be outdone, Blu-ray manufacturers are trying to get more Web-savvy. Samsung says it will soon start shipping players powered by software that will offer video support for YouTube, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services. And Amazon is reportedly preparing to launch a new TV set-top box later this year to stream video into users’ living rooms.

Industry observers say Netflix stands to benefit from the rise in video streaming via TV. NPD says 40 percent of TVs connected to the Web, either through the TV itself or another device, are already watching Netflix. YouTube is a distant second, with 17 percent streaming the Google-owned video service, followed by Hulu Plus, at 11 percent.

Buffone says content usage remains dominated by Netflix and YouTube. He adds that Netflix offers access across any home entertainment device rather than selling its own dedicated player. Last week, Netflix reported having 28 million paid U.S. streaming subscribers at the end of March.

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