Smart TVs won't dominate the connected TV future, study says

More than half of U.S. consumers will be watching TV through electronic devices connected to the Internet by 2017, according to research by eMarketer, but most of those devices won't be smart TVs.

The company's study, obtained by Light Reading, predicts that over the next three years, regular connected TV usage--"regular" defined as once a month--will increase to 54 percent of Americans from the current level of about 36 percent.

Notably, eMarketer predicts third-party connected devices like Roku, Google Chromecast (NASDAQ: GOOG), Apple TV (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Amazon Fire TV (NASDAQ: AMZN) will drive this growth in usage more than smart TVs.

It's forecast that the number of smart TV users will jump modestly by 2018, from a current level of 50 million to almost 80 million, as prices in the category drop. But third-party devices will remain the dominant connected TV portal, with the percentage of connected TV users not using a smart TV rising to almost 60 percent by 2018.

The eMarketer numbers jibe with the connected TV growth trends projected by other research reports. However, other recent studies on the topic predict that smart TV market infiltration will be a primary driver.

Earlier this month, for example, Business Insider's BI Intelligence predicted that smart TV usage will surpass third-party connected device usage by next year.

Even those steeped in the smart TV business don't seem to buy this notion. Speaking on a connected TV panel several weeks ago in Santa Clara, Calif., former Samsung TV innovation executive Richard Bullwinkle said the smart TV category is being stifled by a lack of available programming apps, with devices like Roku offering a much broader selection.

"I can tell you the percentage of [smart TVs] that have a Roku box or Apple TV box connected to them is very high," he said. 

For more:
- see this Light Reading story

Related links:
Bullwinkle departs as Samsung U.S. TV innovation chief
Samsung facility fire temporarily dumbs down smart TVs
Roku's Rosenberg: MVPDs threatened by connected TV devices