SBJ/June 11-17, 2012/Media

Study: U.S. fans slow to use connected TV

Adoption of Internet-connected TV remains slow, despite significant interest in the technology by many properties, networks and manufacturers, according to a new study of the overall U.S. sports market by digital sports outlet Perform.

The study, commissioned by Perform and developed with the aid of European sports and entertainment outlets KantarSport and TV Sports Markets, found that only 5 percent of American consumers use Internet-connected TVs to consume sports content.

Yet, fans polled still believe the emerging technology will have the single greatest impact of any technological advance upon overall sports consumption in the next two years.

“We were, frankly, surprised at the [current consumption] number. We thought going in it would be at least 10 percent or so,” said Juan Delgado, Perform Americas managing director. “What this means is that there still is a bit of a way to go in terms of making content easy to access through the Internet-connected sets. It’s still a bit of a hurdle.

“But when you look at what’s now happening for sports on YouTube, on Facebook, what many of the leagues are doing, there’s clearly a lot of upside. It’s just a matter of bridging that access gap and making people realize that streaming content doesn’t have to be viewed on a tablet or laptop or phone but can be seen on a big, beautiful flat screen.”

The study, being distributed to Perform’s clients and business partners, is in part a branding effort for the U.K.-based operation. The company’s U.S. partners include Silver Chalice New Media, a wide range of domestic newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, and Sporting News, an affiliated publication of SportsBusiness Journal.

Of the more than two dozen countries where Perform operates, the U.S. provides its single largest slice of revenue, but Perform is still seeking further American traction.

“It’s certainly in part a branding play. But it’s also about trying to better understand what is a very large and important territory,” Delgado said.

Among the other findings in the study: The average U.S. sports fan spends about eight hours a week on average consuming sports, higher than many other countries. Just 4 percent of users polled have watched sports on 3-D TV, lending further support to other claims of weak consumer support for the technology.

And predictably, use of mobile and social platforms to consume sports content has surged, with 34 percent of users polled saying they use mobile platforms for sports, and 26 percent using social networking platforms. Both figures are up by more than 10 percentage points from how those same users said they followed sports during 2011.

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