NPD: Only 50% of Homes in Continental U.S. Get True Broadband Access

A new “Broadband America” report from The NPD Group reveals that only 50% of homes in the continental U.S. have true broadband speed of 25Mbps download or higher despite the growing reliance on connected technology.

In fact, 34% of homes receive internet access at speeds of less than 5Mbps, including 15% that do not have any internet access, according to NPD.

Vermont, West Virginia, New Mexico and Mississippi are among the least-connected states, while New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maryland and California are among the most connected. In Vermont only 24% of homes receive broadband speeds, while in New Jersey 65% of homes do.

“The so-called digital divide is a result of many factors including availability of suitable internet services and the affordability of services that are available in more rural parts of America,” Eddie Hold, president of NPD Connected Intelligence, said in a statement. “But there is potential for this situation to improve relatively quickly, as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which are providing key subsidies for deploying faster internet services, as well as funding the Affordable Connectivity Program which provides subsidized internet service to lower-income homes.”

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According to the NPD’s “Rural America” report, more-rural and less-connected areas of the United States have far lower ownership levels of connected devices, as well as a higher level of price sensitivity for technology products ranging from TVs to streaming media players and beyond. In fact, while TV unit sales are roughly the same across rural and non-rural areas, the average price is 40% lower in rural areas. When looking at streaming media players, unit sales are nearly 60% lower in rural areas.

“The lack of higher-speed internet limits the opportunity for newer devices and services, as customers do not have the connectivity needed to generate a satisfactory experience,” Hold noted. “That has a ripple-on effect for consumer technology, limiting the need for larger, smarter TVs, streaming devices, or even tablets and newer PCs.”

NPD: U.S. Households Have More Than 1 Billion Connected Devices

Consumer technology sales have seen historic growth since the pandemic began as consumers purchased new products to meet their growing technology needs or upgraded existing devices. While the COVID-19 pandemic turned homes into places of work, school and entertainment, the number of media devices used grew and changed to accommodate the changing lifestyle. New data from The NPD Group found that by February 2021, U.S. households had more than 1 billion devices installed, connected and able to deliver digital content to a screen.

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According to NPD’s Device Ownership Trends & Profile Report, from February 2020 through February 2021 there was an increase of more than 100 million TV-connected and mobile devices installed in U.S. households. As of February 2021, U.S. internet homes have an average of 9.5 installed and connected devices, up from 8.5 in February 2020. These devices include connected TVs, streaming media players, Blu-ray disc players, video game consoles, laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones.

“Stay-at-home orders issued as a result of the pandemic played a part in the tremendous growth we saw in TV-connected and mobile devices last year as consumers looked for new or different ways to consume content while at home more often than they might otherwise be,” John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst with NPD, said in a statement. “This influx of newer hardware and the growing installed base will continue to facilitate the accelerated growth … during 2021 and beyond.”

Parks: 67% of U.S. Broadband Homes Use at Least One Streaming Video Device

It’s an over-the-top video world and, as expected, new data from Parks Associates finds 67% of domestic broadband households use at least one Internet-connected video device, either a smart TV, streaming media player, connected gaming console, Blu-ray Disc player — or smartphone.

“These platforms stand to win big as consumers increasingly sign up for OTT service through storefronts like Amazon Prime Video Channels, Apple TV Channels, or Roku Channel Premium Subscriptions,” senior analyst Kristen Hanich said in a statement.

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Parks’ “Connected Entertainment Ecosystems: Competition & Cooperation” report notes that while all of the aforementioned devices get plenty of use, they also have long replacement cycles, which is driving manufacturers to explore new strategies, including software and service offerings, exclusive hardware-content bundles, and open ecosystems.

“The increasing fragmentation in the content services market means there’s no single path to reach consumers,” Hanich said.

The report notes that in 2019 alone, 6.4 million U.S. consumers cut the pay-TV cord, transitioning to OTT streaming and/or broadcast television, both of which continue to rise in adoption and usage.

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Hanich said ongoing changes in accessing entertainment is pushing open ecosystems where consumers can access most streaming services on their device regardless of which platform they decide to use.

“The connected entertainment space is moving towards a smartphone model, in which a handful of platform players control the operating system … and consumer access to services and features,” she said.

Research: 71% of U.S. Broadband Households Own a Connected Entertainment Device

Nearly three-fourths of U.S. households (71%) own a connected entertainment device, according to new research from Parks Associates.

The research firm’s white paper, Changing Dynamics of the Smart Home: Opportunities for Service Providers, sponsored by Calix, also found that among consumers who own either a connected entertainment or smart home device, more than 60% have more than one.

“The average U.S. broadband household owns more than ten IoT devices, crossing entertainment, smart home and health use cases,” said Parks VP Denise Ernst in a statement. “These trends, combined with innovations in cloud technologies and service provision, create real opportunities for service providers to enter the smart home space with offerings that provide flexible support options and protections for a household’s data and privacy.”

The whitepaper details consumers’ concerns with data privacy and security, as well as their needs and demands for support services. Additional findings in the report were that 26% of U.S. broadband households own at least one device from a list of common smart home devices and that approximately one-third of connected entertainment device owners and one-half of smart home device owners who set up their devices themselves experience problems.

“In today’s connected lifestyle, consumers value flexibility in their choices,” Ernst said. “A service provider’s ability to address consumers’ problems in the method they prefer is a distinct advantage, particularly in today’s IoT environment.”

One Billion Internet-Connected TV Devices in Use Globally

It’s a streaming video world. There more than one billion connected TV devices now in use worldwide, according to new data from Strategy Analytics.

Connected TV devices – including Smart TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, video game consoles, streaming media devices – enable users to stream over-the-top video content to the TV.

Smart TVs have been consistently gaining market share and now represent nearly 60% of the total Internet-connected media device installed base.

“The popularity of connected TV, in particular Smart TVs and dedicated media streaming devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast, has grown dramatically over the last few years and has led to a fundamental shift in how consumers view and engage with content on the TV set,” David Watkins, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

Spearheaded by Roku, Strategy Analytics expects more than 55 million streaming media devices to ship globally this year – about a third of 150 million Smart TV market.

“Sony has long been the global leader in connected TV devices in terms of devices installed in homes thanks not only to its strength in TVs and Blu-ray players, but also as a result of its leading position in the global game console market,” added David Mercer, VP at Strategy Analytics.

The report said Samsung now equals Sony at the top of the rankings in terms of overall installed connected TV device units, and the South Korean company is poised to take the lead in the second half of 2018.

“As Smart TVs take an ever-growing share of the overall market, Samsung will replace Sony at the top of the device footprint rankings later this year thanks to its dominant position in the world’s Smart TV market,” said Mercer.

Global OTT Video Subs to Top 265 Million by 2022

Spearheaded by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, the number of global households with an over-the-top video service subscription will exceed 265 million by 2022, according to new data from Parks Associates.

The research firm contends OTT video use is being driven by increasing household adoption of connected media devices such as smart TVs, tablets and smart phones.

“Fifty-three percent of U.S. broadband households own a smart TV, and both smart TVs and streaming media players are continually improving the user experience to accommodate the shifting habits of consumers, including integration with voice-based digital assistant ecosystems,” Kristen Hanich, analyst at Parks, said in a statement. “The rise of these digital assistants is another key trend over the last few years, with Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Samsung Bixby, among others, now on the market. Both smart home and connected entertainment developers are working to integrate this functionality into their products.”

Parks contends consumers now own an average of 8.6 connected CE products in their home, an 87% growth in the average volume of devices since 2010. Additional research shows that more than 70% of U.S. broadband households have an Internet-connected entertainment device; 17% own both a smart home device and an internet-connected entertainment device.

Parks estimates over 265 million households worldwide will have a total of more than 400 million OTT video service subscriptions by the end of 2022. Much of it driven by household adoption Internet-connected appliances.

“Consumers prioritize general device interoperability over staying within a specific brand ecosystem when considering a purchase,” said Jennifer Kent, director, research quality & product development. “Three-fourths of consumers find it important to consider any smart home product brand that will work with other products in their home and 49% find this very important.”