Many People With Smart TVs Don’t Use Them Properly

Study finds only half of 4K TVs are utilized to watch 4K content

Smart TVs aren't being used to their full capability by homes that have them, according to a new study. Getty Images, Netflix

The number of homes that own a new connected TV device is increasing, but they aren’t being used to their full potential, according to a new study from Hub Entertainment Research, a measurement research company.

Half of U.S. homes now have a 4K set, according to the study, but only 55% of those homes with a 4K TV said they’ve used it to watch UHD (ultra high definition) content. The other 4K sets were just used to watch HD-quality TV.

Just because consumers have a 4K device doesn't mean they'll watch 4k content.

“With 8K TV sets and ‘Next Gen TV’ broadcast TV sets soon to debut, manufacturers must be careful that their technological ambitions don’t outstrip the ability of content creators and distributors to serve new platforms–otherwise consumers will tune innovation out,” said David Tice, co-author of the study, in a statement.

Nearly 70% of homes now have a smart TV, or one that can connect to the internet, according to the study, but 14% of those who had one said it wasn’t connected to the internet.

Those who do have it connected stream pretty regularly on the device. Specifically, 69% said they use their smart TV to stream content at least weekly, 23% stream through the smart TV only occasionally and 8% never do.

In addition, the study found that those who plan to buy a 4K/UHD/HDR set in the next year want to research the sets in person at a retailer. Of those, 42% said they intend to buy a set in person at a retailer.

“People still want to see and touch before they buy, even though they often don’t intend to use new features,” said Jon Giegengack, one of the co-authors, in a statement. “This suggests retail partnerships, like the one between Amazon and Best Buy on TV sets, might be a real opportunity for content providers to drive adoption and content.”

The study surveyed 5,131 consumers in the U.S. in April. Read the full study here.

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.