Smart TVs are making their way into living rooms, but fewer than half of them are actually connecting to the Internet, according to a recent study by Analysys Mason.

The consumer survey, which included five European companies and the United States, found that more than a third of the respondents were interested in buying a smart TV, but consumer electronics companies need to help consumers understand the benefits and functionality of the smart TVs to increase usage.

smart TVs

“We believe that actual ownership levels for smart-TV sets may be higher than that reported in our survey, because some people may own a smart TV without even realizing it, having purchased the TV for other features such as picture quality or the attractive form factor,” wrote Analysys Mason senior analyst Cesar Bachelet. “Of the respondents who owned a TV (smart or otherwise), 7 percent had an Internet-connected DVD or Blu-ray player connected to the TV set, which represents an alternative, and cheaper, route into the world of smart TV for those who do not wish to buy a new TV set, bringing the total penetration of smart TVs and associated peripheral devices to more than a quarter of respondents.

“On the other hand, streaming media devices, such as Apple TV or Roku Internet set-top boxes, which typically are single-purpose devices offering access to a more limited range of content than smart TVs, were owned by just 1 in 20 of our respondents.”

Bachelet wrote that a lack of compelling content and applications, as well as limited differentiation, needed to be addressed by consumer electronic companies. One avenue for increased smart TV use included forming partnerships with local content owners, which could include pay-TV operators.

 User interfaces was another area that needed to be addressed for the widespread adoption and use of smart TVs.

“Perhaps more importantly than content issues, the ‘smart’ functionality of these sets is generally not integrated with linear viewing, which still remains the main purpose of the smart TV set,” according to Bachelet “The ‘smart’ experience is delivered through a range of disjointed apps, making interaction difficult. Some CE manufacturers, such as Samsung, are beginning to address this through features such as content recommendation, voice and motion control.

“By creating an intuitive experience that seamlessly combines the efficiency of traditional broadcasting with the diversity of the Internet, CE manufacturers can drive consumers to effortlessly embrace the ‘smart’ functionality within their TV sets. Only then will smart TVs truly be successful.”

On a positive note for consumer electronic manufacturers, more than a third of the respondents that didn’t own a smart TV were in interested in buying one.

The annual survey covered the telecoms and media usage and preferences of 6,600 consumers in France, Germany, Poland, Spain, the UK and the United States. 

Time Warner Cable and Comcast have both previously announced that they're working on apps for Samsung's smart TV platform.