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Holiday Season Could Mark Shift in 4K TV Consumer Base

Growing consumer interest in 4K UHD TVs and streaming media players indicates impending shift from early adopter to mass market audience.

4K is already a buzzword in the pro market, but those watching consumers to see when (and if) they’ll catch up have their eyes on the holiday season. TV sales usually surge over the holidays and this year experts are predicting a shift in the 4K consumer base, from early adopter to mass market audience.

According to the NPD Group Connected Intelligence Home Entertainment Report, 2016 has seen steadily growing consumer interest in 4K. And as adoption of 4K technology expands, the industry is preparing for the impending demand of 4K content. 

That includes live TV infrastructure development to support sports broadcast in 4K, to streaming giants offering an array of 4K content. 

Streaming 4K Is the Future

The data is there. In the Home Entertainment Report, 38 percent of people surveyed said they are very, or somewhat, likely to use a 4K TV in the future, an increase of five percentage points since Q1 of this year.

Streaming media player ownership is also on the rise. As of Q3, 87 percent of installed 4K TVs had active internet connections, demonstrating that these consumers are among those most eager to stream content.

Related: Can 4K Signal Distribution’s ‘Black Hole’ Be Solved?

Recent 4K capable device launches from Amazon, Roku and Google further signal the transition to streaming 4K video resolution.

A reported 32 percent of U.S. homes had at least one installed streaming media player, an increase of seven million homes over the past year, fueled by the growing number of streaming TV services.

Millennials Leading the Charge

While not many streaming media player owners have used a 4K streamer, findings show growth in awareness and usage driven by Millennials.

The report indicates that a little over 30 percent of consumers are aware of 4K streaming media player availablility. When you look at Millennials alone, this number jumps to 52 percent. 

Millennials are also the most eager to use 4K streaming products. 39 percent stated they have interest in future usage.

“While younger consumers are watching more video on their smartphones, they are also driving consumer interest in 4K streaming on TV, as these behaviors are not mutually exclusive,” says John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence.

“As consumers make the shift to 4K capable hardware, content providers will be working to distribute 4K content, and in-home broadband speeds will become an important consideration for viewers to ensure a smooth 4K streaming experience,” Buffone continues.

Nothing Without the Network

It probably goes without saying — in order to stream 4K content, consumers must have the hardware and appropriate broadband speed to do it. NPD Group and Connected Intelligence recommends an Internet connection speed of approximately 25Mbps or higher to stream 4K video. 

According to the report, only about five million U.S. households have both the hardware and broadband speed required.

Furthermore, the average home also has eight connected devices, which can put a strain on the network’s ability to transmit a 4K video stream. So even though the number of households with 25Mbps connection speed or higher is increasing, as the number of devices increases as well, consumers could be left with a faulty Internet connection. 

Read: Become an Expert in 4K HDR Before Clients Demand It

“Content distributors with an infrastructure prepared to offer 4K UHD video streaming are poised to take advantage of the pending inflection point in the display and TV programming industries, as viewers who stream video will be the first to expect their movies and TV shows delivered in 4K resolution,” says Buffone.

CE pros are in a good position to offer consumers a more robust network in order to keep 4K streaming as seamless as possible.

What Will Drive More TV Sales: 4K or HDR?

4K might be enticing consumers right now, but at a recent CE Pro Summit panel, Dave Pedigo, vice president of emerging technologies at CEDIA, called HDR “the most visceral experience I have ever had watching TV.”

The business model based on equipment margin is not going anywhere, Pedigo affirmed, starting with TV sales. Overall television sales may be decreasing but the growth potential for these new technologies could make up for it.

Pedigo argued that HDR, not 4K, will be the driver for consumers to buy more TVs, primarily because 4K is not really noticeable to the untrained eye unless the viewer is sitting really close to the screen, while HDR is noticeable wherever you sit.

“I am incredibly bullish that dealers will be able to sell HDR TVs at higher price points going forward,” said Pedigo. Read more from the summit panel.

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