Internet Surpasses TV as 'Most Essential' Medium
For the first time, the Internet has surpassed TV as the “most essential” medium for Americans, according to a new survey conducted by Arbitron and Edison Research.
When asked which they would choose if they must, never again watching television or never again accessing the Internet, just over 49 percent of respondents chose to eliminate TV, compared to 48 percent who said they would get rid of the Internet, with the balance undecided.
While today's numbers indicate TV and the Internet run neck and neck with viewers, the split represents an enormous shift in consumer preferences over the past decade. When the same question was asked in 2001, 72 percent of respondents said they would do without the Internet, while only 26 percent said they would eliminate television.
But TV manufacturers have anticipated the shift bringing Internet connected TVs to market in increasingly greater numbers. TV industry analyst firm Display Search forecasts that almost 100 million connected TVs will be shipped in 2013, up 546% from nearly 15 million in 2009.
"Incorporating USB connectors in TVs is fast becoming as important as HDMI, and is enabling all kinds of new functionality," said Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research.
"Skype is moving into the living room with video calling, and a surge of new connected sets are soon to reach the market in China. Also, Walmart’s purchase of [the streaming television service] Vudu could transform TV features if the retailer decides that any set they sell has to be capable of accessing it."
Vudu is similar to Netflix and allows viewers to stream movies over the Internet on Web-equipped TVs.
These services may be built into TVs as small software programs, or "widgets," and require TVs to be connected to the Internet either through a USB connection or wirelessly. The widget technology allows users to forego a set top box for viewing movies, effectively circumventing on demand services provided by cable and satellite companies.
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