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TVs Are No. 1 Again -- For Watching Online Video
TVs Are No. 1 Again -- For Watching Online Video

By Barry Levine
September 27, 2012 1:58PM

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NPD found that 43 percent watched online video on TV through direct TV connections, 47 percent reported using Net-connected entertainment consoles to watch on TV, and 62 percent chose streaming-media players such as Roku, Boxee or Apple TV. Thirty-eight percent used computers with direct outputs to TV sets, and 21 percent employed Blu-ray players.

Think that video you've posted on the Web will be watched on someone's computer? You can't count on that. A new study reveals that more people are now watching online video on TVs than on computers.

In a report released Wednesday, entitled Digital Video Outlook, market researcher The NPD Group said that, over the past year, the number of consumers who said their TV was the primary screen for watching paid and free video from the Web had risen to 45 percent of respondents, from 33 percent a year ago.

'Dorm Room to Living Room'

The numbers were almost exactly reversed last year, when 48 percent viewed online videos primarily on their computers and only 33 percent on TVs. NPD noted that this growth tracks not only the increase in big screen TVs, but also the rapid adoption of Net-connected sets.

The 33 percent of computer-primary users breaks down as 17 percent who watch videos mostly on their laptop PC, 14 percent on their desktop PC, 1 percent on a laptop and 1 percent on a netbook. Twenty-two percent said they do not watch online video.

As of the second quarter of this year, 12 percent of the consumer TV sets in the U.S. had Net access, representing nearly 30 million devices. About 1 in 10 U.S. consumer households own at least one connected TV, and 43 percent of connected TV users are accessing online video, music, cloud services and other online entertainment from their TVs.

Russ Crupnick, NPD Group's senior vice president of industry analysis, said in a statement that, propelled by the growth in connected TVs, "streaming video has moved from the dorm room to the living room," a trend that NPD predicts will continue to grow.

Netflix Watch Instantly

Connected TVs, offering direct access to the Web via Web-to-TV apps, provide a convenient way of viewing online material on TV, but users can also choose to use Net connections built into Blu-ray players, Apple TVs, set-top boxes like Roku, and Microsoft Xbox 360 entertainment consoles.

While NPD found that 43 percent watched online video on TV through direct TV connections, 47 percent reported using Net-connected entertainment consoles to watch on TV sets, and 62 percent chose streaming-media players such as Roku, Boxee, or Apple TV. Thirty-eight percent used computers with direct outputs to TV sets, and 21 percent employed Blu-ray players.

The leading application for Web-to-TV video is Netflix Watch Instantly. Of those respondents who say they watch online video on their TV, 40 percent used that Netflix app, while 12 percent chose HuluPlus and 4 percent connected through Vudu.

The movement toward watching videos on TVs, if it continues, would appear to run counter to a recent growing trend by major online video content providers, such as HBO and Comcast, to provide access to TV programs and movies on a multiplicity of devices, most notably mobile ones. Mobile could turn out to be just an on-the-go alternative to the main device back home, King TV.

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