High Street Gets Low Marks for Smart TV Sales

U.K. retailers are not being smart about promoting Smart TV's, impacting manufacturers and consumers alike.

That is according to new research from Informa Telecoms & Media, which found that consumers were not being educated about the most basic features of 'net-connected TV's.

Informa estimates that 35% of all TV's sold in the U.K. are "smart," but that is because it is becoming a default technology, not because consumers are seeking them out.

According to a "mystery shopper" survey of "leading retail chains and pay-TV providers," most stores don't have internet connections so they can demonstrate the sets functions. They also don't have dedicated in-store sections and or well-trained sales staffs.

"While some specialist and mass-market retailers are providing an increasingly interactive shopping experience for smart phones and tablets, connected TVs are yet to be held in the same regard," says Andrew Ladbrook, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, in announcing the results. "Store displays and sales assistants tend to focus on TV screen size and quality when making their recommendations to consumers. It seems that Smart TV features are an afterthought, but with no internet connection in stores their advantages are quite literally not being seen or heard."

Both brick-and-mortar and online sites were studied, and Amazon U.K. got the highest marks or offering the "closest thing to a comprehensive shopping experience for connected TVs."

Informa says by contrast, Pay TV providers offer dedicated, well-promoted information to consumers "already strongly aware of what on-demand video services are available to them."

The survey was of leading high street retailers and pay providers BT, Sky and Virgin, with the shopper looking for a connected TV, 32-40-inch screen size. The stores and providers were judged on various factors including "products range and relevance, technical explanations, staff expertise, store experience, website -- where applicable -- and the overall experience."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.