The estimated global penetration of smart TVs at the end of 2020 stood at 665 million households (or 34% of households around the world), according to a new study from market research firm Strategy Analytics.

The study released last week further forecasts the penetration number to rise to 54% (or 1.1 billon households) by 2026 as more and more homes replace older televisions with new models affording built-in streaming platforms.

Sales of Smart TVs grew by 7.4% in 2020 to reach 186 million units, accounting for 79% of all Flat Panel TVs sold, the report found.

By global regions, North America enjoyed the greatest smart TV penetration and in the last year, unit sales growth, thanks in part to government stimulus payments to American residents who were forced to shelter at home during the pandemic. That served to increase demand for home entertainment devices, especially televisions.

The research indicates that Samsung continued to be the world’s leading Smart TV manufacturer in terms of annual sales units for the ninth straight year in 2020. But Chinese TV maker TCL leapfrogged LG to take second place among smart TV brands for the first time in 2020.

Regarding the most populas smart TV operating systems, Strategy Analytis pointed out that a handful of platforms divide the global smart TV base. Samsung’s proprietary Tizen OS leads the market, followed by a significantly growing group of major third-party software platforms led by Android TV and Roku TV OS.

The top four Smart TV operating systems accounted for over 50% of total smart TV unit sales in 2020, up from 33% five years earlier.

The full report available for purchase, breaks out details for 88 markets between 2011-2026.

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“Smart TV is a standard fit feature of most flat panel TVs sold today and so smart TV household penetration will inevitably continue to grow as consumers replace old sets with new modern smart-enabled versions,” said Edouard Bouffenie, Strategy Analytics senior analyst for connected home devices. “As smart functionality is no longer a point of differentiation but has become a check box necessity, smart TV manufacturers have had to make a choice between maintaining their own software and application ecosystems or licensing a software platform from a third-party partner. While many have decided to partner with the likes of Google’s Android TV and Roku in order to avoid the ongoing costs of maintaining their own platform, several brands including Samsung, Vizio and LG are going it alone and are looking to capitalize on the fast growing Connected TV advertising business.”

“Smart TV usage is growing and is on a path towards becoming the preferred platform for accessing online video content,” added David Watkins, media and intelligent home practice VP. “However, the current Connected TV landscape in the home is incredibly complex and consumers may have multiple devices in multiple configurations to choose from. Factor in different viewing habits amongst different members of the household and it’s clear that TV streaming platform providers face a significant challenge in driving engagement and ensuring that TV viewers remain on their platform and do not switch to another source. Smart TV OS providers must look to influence the TV viewer’s journey through improved content discovery capabilities, advanced analytics and advertising platforms and the development of an intuitive and user-friendly UI.”

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By Greg Tarr

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