Nielsen's annual Australian Connected Consumers report reveals that a third of Australian households have a TV that can access the Internet - slightly more than the number of homes with access to an Internet-enabled tablet.
The report's co-author, Lillian Zrim, said that many Australians were using their Internet-connected TVs to watch streaming TV shows and movies: "Almost half of the Australian online population watched TV content via internet services and sources, and the NBN rollout will facilitate a surge in the demand for streamed TV and movie content in Australia in coming years."
Nielsen's statistics point to "significant growth" in the Internet-connected TV market this year, both on store shelves and in consumers' homes.
In 2012, the 'Smart TV' market was flooded with Internet-ready models from Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony and other manufacturers. Over 60 per cent of LG's 2012 TVs included Smart TV features, with two thirds of those TVs able to connect to the Internet through built-in Wi-Fi for easier connectivity. 70 per cent of Samsung 2012 TVs were Smart, and two thirds of those had built-in Wi-Fi.
Most of these 2012-model TVs are still available, with a yearly model refresh usually announced during April with 2013-model TVs released onto store shelves between May and October. The amount of TVs sold that are able to be connected to the Internet will only increase with this year's refresh.
The steep decline in TV prices over the last few years has plateaued at a level where a fully-featured, Internet-capable, Wi-Fi-enabled TV like the 55-inch LG LM6410, or the 55-inch Samsung Series 6, can be bought for as little as $1300. Only a few years ago, buying a Wi-Fi-enabled TV of the same size would have cost over $4000.
It's not clear exactly how many of the Internet-ready TVs in Australian homes are actually connected to a home network and the Internet, or whether the Smart TV features are regularly used, but the potential is there.
Another interesting statistic shared by Nielsen points to the ubiquity of always-on Internet connections and mobile devices in Australia. Almost three quarters of consumers surveyed by Nielsen simultaneously used a tablet, smartphone or notebook to 'dual screen' - to browse the Internet or interact on social media while watching TV.
Over a third of these viewers actively posted on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking services while watching. This isn't surprising - look at Twitter on a Monday night and it's impossible to avoid #qanda, while #MKR hits the top of the trending list most evenings that the show runs.
According to Nielsen, Australians spend almost an entire day online every week, with an average consumer accessing the Internet in some form or another on an Internet-connected device for a total of 23 hours and 18 minutes out of every 168 (per week). The declining price of consumer technology and the increasing availability of high-speed Internet access means this number is likely to rise year-on-year.
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