Report: U.S. Digital Media Consumption Growth Slows

U.S. consumers are projected to spend about 8 hours and 14 minutes daily consuming digital media in 2022, up about 14 minutes (1.9%) from 2021, according to new data from eMarketer. The research firm said the gain is less than during the pandemic when housebound consumers worked from home using laptops and tablets, in addition to consuming entertainment.

The report found that increases in digital media consumption are driven by internet-connected devices such as smart TVs and video game consoles. In 2020 during the pandemic, use of internet-connected devices mushroomed 35.4% to 1 hour and 35 minutes per user. U.S. consumers are projected to spend 1 hour and 47 minutes internet-connected devices this year.

On the flipside, with the pandemic waning, use of desktops and laptops in the home will decline, with the typical user spending six minutes less in 2022 than they did in 2020. The eMarketer report also found that tablet usage will give way to increases in smartphone and smart TV use.

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The report’s author, Sara Lebow, contends that digital distribution will account for an increasing share of time spent with media, totaling 8 hours and 28 minutes in 2024, or 64.9% of time spent with media.

“Digital’s growth is driven by increasing time spent with smartphones and other connected devices, which are making up for losses in the desktop/laptop and tablet categories,” Lebow wrote.

Parks Survey: Consumer Purchases of Sony Smart-TVs Grow

Out of the top five brands, Sony showed clear growth among smart TVs purchased or received in the previous six months compared to 2020, pushing it past Vizio and into the top three for reported purchases in Q3 2021.

That’s according to Parks Associates’ latest update of its Consumer Insights Dashboard, an ongoing service that tracks adoption of consumer electronic devices and services through its quarterly surveys of 10,000 U.S. internet households.

“Samsung continues to lead smart TV adoption, and it currently comprises over one-fourth of all consumers’ primary smart-TVs in the U.S.,” Paul Erickson, director of research for Parks Associates, said in a statement. “While smart-TV adoption is at all-time highs, there may be short-term saturation and conservatism in effect while consumer smart-TV purchasing settles following dramatic increases in 2020. Sony still managed to grow in purchasing — despite downturns for the traditional top three brands — which may be related to its first-mover release of new Google TV Bravia models over 2021.”

Heightened entertainment consumption has driven sustained high purchase intent for connected entertainment devices, according to Parks. Smart-TVs have not only become the most-adopted streaming video device but also the most favored for video consumption. Among survey respondents, 56% own a smart-TV; 73% own a home network router; 39% own a gaming console; and 57% own a desktop computer.

Smart-TVs, along with smart speakers/displays and desktop PCs, experienced growth during the pandemic due to an increase in consumers’ perceived value of these devices, according to Parks. Smart-TVs and smart speakers/displays have shown durability in sustaining growth and are expected to maintain elevated adoption in years to come.

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“This is notable given that the aggregate trend across categories has been a very gradual decline in overall usage since 2017,” Erickson said in a statement. “Smart-TVs have become the most-important media centerpiece for the home, and their prominence offers the industry numerous integration opportunities for smart home and connected health ecosystems.”

Hub Research: Smart-TV Ownership, Usage for Streaming Continues to Grow

Smart-TV ownership continues to climb, with three-quarters (76%) of TV households saying they own a smart-TV, up from 70% a year ago, according to Hub Entertainment Research’s fourth annual “Connected Home” study.

The majority (57%) of all TV sets are now smart sets, a proportion a quarter higher than in 2020 (45%), according to the study.

Consumers are also using the capabilities of smart TVs more, according to the study. In the past, many smart TVs were operated as “dumb” sets — owners plugged them into cable boxes or external streaming devices, bypassing their built-in smart capabilities. But in 2022, more than four in five (86%) smart TV homes reported they regularly stream shows through a smart TV’s built-in capability, according to the survey. That’s a significant increase from 2020 (75%), but it still shows that a notable share (14%, or 1 in 7) of smart TV homes aren’t yet using those sets to stream TV shows or movies.

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Meanwhile, adoption of other smart devices lags. About half of all households now own other smart devices, with 52% of all homes owning a smart speaker (Amazon Echo, Google Nest, etc.) and 48% owning at least one smart home device such as a smart thermostat, smart doorbell, smart lightbulb, etc.

“Growth in smart-TV viewing over the past few years has been supercharged not just by more smart-TVs, but greatly increased use of smart TV apps for streaming,” David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “It has been a long road to get a large majority of smart-TV owners to use those sets for streaming. This is a theme for smart tech overall. It’s not just getting devices into homes, but how can stakeholders get consumers to use the full capabilities of smart devices?”

Hub’s “Connected Home 2022” report is based on a survey of 5,204 U.S. consumers conducted in February 2022.

Chicken Soup for the Soul AVOD Streaming App Added to Vizio Service

The Chicken Soup for the Soul AVOD streaming service application has been added to the Vizio service, Crackle Plus, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, announced.

The streaming service will offer three thousand hours of at launch, including exclusive programming from Chicken Soup for the Soul original series such as “Smart Home Nation.”

“Vizio is pleased to launch the Chicken Soup for the Soul app and offer our audience titles from such a beloved brand,” Katherine Pond, VP of business development for Vizio, said in a statement. “Bringing the feel-good content that Chicken Soup for the Soul is known for to Vizio audiences is another way that we can deliver on our promise to offer entertainment that viewers know and love.”

“We are excited to bring the Chicken Soup for the Soul AVOD service to millions of Vizio viewers,” Philippe Guelton, president of Crackle Plus, said in a statement. “We plan to provide a unique blend of entertainment from content and distribution partners who share our vision.”

The Chicken Soup for the Soul streaming service will provide entertainment stories that range from mysteries to miracles, comedy to true crime, the royal family to romcoms in the form of lifestyle programming, original scripted movies, Hollywood blockbusters and classic TV series, according to a Crackle Plus release.

Also now available on Chicken Soup for the Soul is programming from Kin, which has celebrity-driven lifestyle programming. It includes 18 exclusive episodes of “Tia Mowry’s Quick Fix,” and 12 episodes of “All Things Adrienne” (Adrienne Houghton) as well as other series with more fresh content arriving in the coming months.

Chicken Soup for the Soul originals and AVOD exclusives available at launch include:

  • “Smart Home Nation” (original), produced by Efran Films in association with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment and Parkside Entertainment, and hosted by Tanya Memme, explores smart houses on planet Earth. From ‘A’-list mansions with security systems that can recognize your face from down the block to heated backyards that allow you to swim outside while it’s snowing, the series highlights experimental tech havens that would look right at home in “The Jetsons.”
  • Senior Moment (exclusive), a romantic comedy-drama film directed by Giorgio Serafini and starring William Shatner, Jean Smart and Christopher Lloyd. The film follows Victor Martin (Shatner), a retired NASA test pilot, after he loses his license from drag racing his vintage convertible around Palm Springs. Forced to take public transportation, he meets Caroline (Smart) and learns to navigate love and life again.
  • “Vacation Rental Potential” (original) follows designer and real estate expert Holly Baker as she explores beautiful vacation rental properties across the United States, helping clients maximize their earning potential.
  • Off the Rails (exclusive) is Kelly Preston’s final film, with Jenny Seagrove, Sally Philipps, Andrea Corr and Judi Dench about a group of 50-something women on a European vacation who have a change of itinerary when a teenager (Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips) joins their plans.
  • Hope Gap (exclusive), starring Annette Benning, Bill Nighy, and Josh O’Connor, follows two parents’ visit with their son that takes a dramatic turn when dad reveals he’s leaving his wife.
  • Thanks for the Memories (exclusive), a romantic comedy two-part limited series with Tamzin Merchant, Tom Wlaschiha, and Bekka Bowling, tells the tale of a woman (Merchant) who, after receiving a blood transfusion, finds she now has memories that aren’t her own.

 

“For years Chicken Soup for the Soul has been the go-to destination for those looking to find comfort, enlightenment, humor and inspiration,” Amy Newmark, author, editor-in-chief and publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul self-help book series, said in a statement. “With our new AVOD streaming service we are thrilled to now have a home for the exciting video content that we have been creating for years. We look forward to producing new series that will help us better serve our audience and change the world one story at a time.”

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The VOD app launch on Vizio follows Chicken Soup for the Soul’s recent FAST channel launches on Vizio’s free streaming service, WatchFree+, as well as Plex, FreeCast, Redbox, LG Channels, Stirr and Xumo.

Crackle Plus streaming services are currently distributed through 60 touch points in the United States, including Amazon FireTV, RokuTV, Apple TV, smart TVs (Samsung, LG, Vizio), gaming consoles (PS4 and XBoxOne), Plex, iOS and Android mobile devices, and on desktops at Crackle.com. Crackle is also available in approximately 500,000 hotel rooms in the Marriott Bonvoy chain.

‘Antiques Roadshow’ U.K. Channel Available on Samsung TV Plus in U.S.

A BBC “Antiques Roadshow” U.K. channel is now available in the United States on Samsung TV Plus, Samsung’s free, ad-supported streaming service, available on Samsung Smart TVs.

The series, in its 44th season, follows host Fiona Bruce and her team of antiquarian experts as they tour the United Kingdom’s most sumptuous and unusual locations to uncover artifacts, search for hidden treasures, and reveal the remarkable stories of unique and incredible items.

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The “Antiques Roadshow” U.K. channel, preloaded and accessible from the home screen, joins more than 200 premium channels already available on Samsung TV Plus across the United States on millions of Samsung Smart TVs and galaxy devices and on the Web.

LG Electronics Unveils New TVs, Services at CES 2022

LG Electronics unveiled its new TV lineup for CES 2022, headlined by the company’s 2022 OLED TVs.

In a CES eve virtual media event introduced by singer John Legend, Jinnie Kim, LG Electronics USA director of home entertainment marketing, said, “Our 2022 lineup of LG TVs consists of the most expansive range of screen sizes and the brightest and finest picture quality ever.”

A CES Innovation Award honoree for eight consecutive years, LG OLED TVs employ self-lighting pixels that can be turned on and off individually to deliver perfect blacks, natural colors and better contrast, according to the company. 

The OLED evo technology featured in both G2 and select C2 series delivers higher brightness for ultra-realistic images, according to the company. Powered by LG’s new α (Alpha) 9 Gen 5 intelligent processor, the company’s “Brightness Booster” technology enables G2 series TVs to deliver even more brightness through improved heat dissipation and a more advanced algorithm, according to LG.

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LG’s 2022 G2 series, with a flush-to-the-wall “Gallery Design,” introduces a new 83-inch model and the world’s first 97-inch OLED model to complement the 55-, 65- and 77-inch TVs already in the lineup. LG’s C2 series offers a diverse selection of screen sizes with a total of six for 2022: the 42-inch OLED TV, ideal for console and PC gaming, in addition to 48-, 55-, 65-, 77- and 83-inch models.

The latest version of LG’s  Smart TV platform features webOS 22 that introduces personal profiles for a more customized viewing experience. Under each profile, users can set up fast access to their favorite streaming services, get tailored content recommendations based on viewing history and receive real-time alerts to keep up with favorite sports teams, according to LG. Logging into profiles can be performed either from the TV browser or from a smartphone with “NFC Magic Tap.”

“NFC Magic Tap” can also be used to mirror a mobile device screen to an LG TV. Viewers can also mirror content from one TV to another in the home using “Room to Room Share,” which enables the viewing of cable or satellite content on another TV via Wi-Fi without an additional set-top-box. Also new for 2022, “Always Ready” turns an LG TV into a media display when not in use. It is activated with a press of the power button on the LG remote to transform the screen into a digital canvas for showcasing artwork, keeping track of time or playing music.

Upgraded ThinQ AI allows LG’s 2022 TVs to offer voice control and compatibility with other ThinQ-powered devices. ThinQ AI offers support for “Matter,” a new industry standard for a more secure and seamlessly connected smart home, which will allow LG TVs to work as a controller for connected devices, according to LG.

The panels in the 2022 OLED lineups have been certified by global product testing agency Intertek for 100% color fidelity and 100% color volume, according to LG. LG TVs also “make it easier for customers to see movies as their creators intended as they were the first in 2021 to offer auto switching to Filmmaker Mode when enjoying Amazon Prime Video content,” according to the company.

New for 2022, LG customers can easily select and switch between game-specific features and display presets directly from the TV’s Game Optimizer menu. The Game Optimizer menu provides quick access to the new “Dark Room Mode,” which adjusts screen brightness for a better gaming experience when the lights are off, according to LG. A new sports mode joins presets for first-person shooter, role-playing and real-time strategy games.

LG is also unveiling an expanded QNED TV lineup for 2022 with LG’s Quantum Dot NanoCell technology. LG QNED Mini LED TV is capable of “amazing contrast” with LG’s Precision Dimming Technology, according to the company.

LG is also adding new services to its smart TVs. The LIVENow app offers access to online live concerts, shows, sports and other live events. The 1M HomeDance app, created in collaboration with 1MILLION Dance Studio, one of K-Pop’s choreography teams, provides a selection of dance tutorials and allows users to check their form with “Camera Mode” while dancing along with 1MILLION’s professional choreographers, as well as watch their favorite dance clips.

LG is also introducing its first health platform, LG Fitness. According to the company, it helps users find the ideal workout plan based on the system’s recommendations or create their own by choosing from a variety of options such as fast-paced HIIT, full-body stretching or guided meditation, among others, keeping track of their activity and progress on the app’s dashboard.

With Independa, the first tele-healthcare service supported on LG TVs, LG’s TVs can help users care for family members remotely or assist seniors to be more independent, according to LG. Independa makes it easy for users to initiate a video chat with a caregiver or access a menu of relevant professional services, according to LG. Pop-up notifications inform when someone is calling and personal alerts can be set up for more reminders. Professional services available on Independa include Dentulu (online dental consultation), Capital Rx (discount pharmacy platform), Coverdell (dental insurance benefits), WebMD (medical grade educational videos) and Sprio100 (fitness programs for seniors), among others.

CTA at CES 2022: Consumers Are Leveling Up Their Tech

The pandemic has accelerated technology adoption, especially in the home, said Steve Koenig, VP of research at the Consumer Technology Association.

“Consumers have been leveling up their tech,” he said during the CES 2022 Tech Trends to Watch presentation Jan. 3.

4K Ultra HD TV penetration has grown from 36% of U.S. households in 2020 to 52% in 2021, according to CTA data. Smart TVs have expanded to 71% of U.S. households from 65%.

Services are also in the spotlight, he said. Spending on video streaming services is expected to reach $47 billion in 2022, up 7% over 2021, according to CTA research.

“Services have become really important to the industry, but I would say important in all caps to the consumer,” Koenig said.

Citing the millions of subscribers who have flocked to Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV+, he said, “Consumers’ zeal and enthusiasm for these services is illustrated by some of these global numbers.”

He cited research that found the average consumer is subscribed to eight services.

As for the overall technology market, demand remains strong around the world, he said.

In the United States, the CTA forecasts that the tech industry will grow to $505 billion, up 2.8% from $491 billion in 2021. U.S. software/services spending grew 11.4% in 2021 and is projected to grow 6% in 2022. Hardware spending grew 9% in 2021 and is projected to grow 1.8% in 2022.

Some of the key trends being showcased as CES 2022 include artificial intelligence and 5G, which is “gonna provide the connective tissue for a lot of innovation in this decade,” he said.

As for the buzzword in tech at the moment, “the metaverse,” he said, “The metaverse is closer than you think.”

He said all the components are available.

“It’s really just assembling them,” he said. This next-generation, immersive version of the internet will become “inextricably linked with our physical reality,” he said.

Attendees will see the “first steps of the metaverse” at CES 2022, he said.

“It’s one of these trends that we’ll be talking about for the next 20 years,” he said.

Roku Says Its Smart TV Operating System No. 1 Seller in 2021

Roku Jan. 3 announced that for the second year in a row, its branded operating system was the No. 1 smart-TV OS sold in the U.S., according to NPD’s Weekly Retail Tracking Service, based on available data from Jan. 3 through Dec. 4.

Additionally, Roku announced a partnership with Sharp to bring Sharp Roku TV models to customers in the U.S. Sharp is leveraging the Roku TV hardware reference design and OS to market a series of HD and 4K UHD TV models in 2022.

Sharp Roku TV models will come integrated with a customizable home screen, compatibility with the three major voice ecosystems and access to thousands of channels, including more than 200 live-TV channels.

“Sharp, like Roku, is an award-winning, household known brand and we look forward to a productive partnership together in the US,” Mustafa Ozgen, GM and SVP of account acquisitions for Roku, said in a statement. “We both firmly believe that the power and ease of use of Roku TV, combined with the Sharp brand promise of ‘simply better living’ makes an appealing combination for customers looking for a great TV experience.”

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Separately, the Roku TV licensing program in Mexico will expand to include a total of 10 brands, with the addition of Aiwa and HKPRO starting in early 2022. The Roku TV licensing program offers OEMs and TV brands a cost-effective way to make smart TVs.

Parks: U.S. Consumer Adoption of Smart-TVs Reached 56% in 2021

The use of internet-connected televisions in the home continues to grow, with 56% of U.S. broadband homes now using smart-TVs, according to new data from Parks Associates. Smart speakers/display penetration reached 53%.

Dallas-based Parks found that 82% of domestic broadband households subscribe to at least one over-the-top video service, up 6%, while 58% of households subscribe to a traditional pay-TV service, down 4% year-over-year.

“2021 has been a challenging year for consumers and businesses. While supply chain issues continue to be a concern, there is slow but steady growth in the smart home industry,” Elizabeth Parks said in a statement.

Parks said the percentage of domestic broadband households with standalone broadband service increased from 33% in Q1 2018 to 41% in Q1 2021, following the declining popularity of pay-TV bundles. Consumers pay $64 per month on average for standalone broadband service, up from $39 per broadband household in 2011, a 64% growth rate.

“Traditional and disruptive players continue to introduce new products, grow partnerships, and add features to expand offerings,” Parks said. “Privacy issues continue to be in the forefront of consumers’ minds as well as the ability of products to work together and with a unified app.”

Comcast to Launch Branded ‘XClass TV’ Models Made by China’s Hisense

Comcast is getting into the television business. The media giant has quietly began laying the groundwork for the rollout of a line of broadband branded high-definition televisions manufactured by China’s Hisense.

Dubbed “XClass TV,” the initial units come in 43-inch and 50-inch screen sizes powered by the cable giant’s X1 operating system with ultra high-definition (UHD) picture resolution — relatively small in today’s mega-screen market — according to the device’s landing page.

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“XClass TV smart TV that brings all your favorite apps, live channels, and On Demand movies and shows together in one place. XClass TV works gives you thousands of free movies, shows, music and more,” reads the the page.

While there has been no official announcement, Comcast is following in the footsteps of Roku, which was the first U.S. streaming media company to partner with Chinese manufacturers launching branded televisions. Amazon just announced the launch of its own line of branded self-manufactured TVs.

Previous media reports say Comcast would market the XClass TVs through Walmart. Regardless, the move is noteworthy considering the TVs would be marketed to consumers outside Comcast’s pay-TV.

“We’re looking at smart TVs on a global basis, and we’re wondering: Can we bring our tech stack, or certain capabilities in aggregation, to consumers who are relying more and more on smart TVs?,” Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts told an investor group in 2020.

Indeed, in addition to a free year subscription to Peacock, the televisions come equipped with myriad third-party apps (Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Showtime and Paramount+) preloaded, plus free movies through NBCUniversal-owned Vudu, and ad-free FAST platforms Xumo, Pluto TV and Tubi.

The TVs will also have access to music, playlists, and podcasts from Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, in addition to live broadcasts from iHeart Radio.

The XClass TV will include access to Premier League soccer from the U.K. on Peacock and Spain’s La Liga, and the PGA Tour on Xumo. Plus, access to highlight reels and must-watch moments on YouTube.