Smart Sets Break 100 Million Mark

48.5% of all TV sets shipped in Q4’15 – 34.2 million units – were smart models, says IHS, leading to smart TV shipments breaking the 100 million mark for the first time last year. IHS expects shipments to reach 109 million this year and 134 million in 2020.

“Consumers increasingly regard smart functions as essential,” said Paul Gray, principal analyst at IHS. “The market dynamic has shifted from seeding the market to self-sustaining demand for built-in internet streaming functions.”

China saw very high levels of penetration in 2015: 75% of TVs shipped in the country were smart sets. Demand surged in the USA, as well, from a 36% share in 2014 to a 48% last year. The popularity of services such as Netflix is bolstering demand.

Other regions saw a mixed result. LATAM continued to increase smart TV shipments, despite a depressed TV market overall. Penetration was diluted by the influx of basic TV sets introduced to subsidise Mexico’s digital switchover – although, if such sets were excluded, more than half of TVs shipped in LATAM in Q4 were smart. Japan and Europe appear to have reached a plateau, with minor declines seen in smart TV shipments last year. This was largely due to the end of aggressive price promotions and a shortage of high-quality local content.

Gray predicted a “more gradual” growth rate for smart TV going forward. Most mature markets, and China, are at or approaching saturation. Emerging regions, meanwhile, are stymied by a lack of broadband penetration.