November 18, 2019

Shoppers Connect With Christmas Early, Via Smart TVs

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc. 

A shortened, Black Friday-to-Christmas shopping season already has spawned big TV deals and the accompanying advertising — two to three weeks ahead of Thanksgiving.

WalMart, for example, started advertising last week a 50-inch Class 4K Roku Smart TV for $148, a price tag that will be available on Black Friday as well as Thanksgiving Day.

But what’s adding even more to the holiday cheer for TV manufacturers and advertisers alike this year is the rising tide of American homes that harbor a connected or “smart” TV. By varying estimates, that number will rise from nearly 70 million households currently to almost 120 million homes that will cut the cord from traditional television by the end of 2023.

The seemingly reasonable prices for smart TVs this holiday season surely have even more Americans in the cord-cutting mood — an assessment with which Consumer Reports agrees.

“This year we’re seeing more 4K UHD TVs offered at low prices, plus deals on larger screen sizes,” Consumer Reports says. “In the past, Black Friday TV deals always involved super-low-priced doorbusters, often on lesser-known brands. But now we’re also seeing a lot of major-brand sets, especially from LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio.”

In addition to finding a set that will connect to the internet, a major feature that smart-TV shoppers should seek when buying a new set is to make sure it offers “4K” capability. (Yes, it seems as though it was just yesterday that “3K” was all the rage).

“Don’t buy a TV with less than 4K resolution,” warns Tom’s Guide, another consumer watchdog of sorts that advises buyers about new technology. “4K is the standard these days, so unless you see a very cheap 1080p set, stick with 4K.””

Tom’s Guide offers these further useful tips on buying a new TV:

• Don’t buy a TV without ‘smart’ capabilities. “This makes it easy to stream content from apps like Roku, Hulu, and Prime Video.”

• Look for HDR compatible sets. “They offer more realistic colors and better contrast. There are 5 HDR formats, but the main ones you want are HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, and Dolby Vision.”

• Avoid paying for extended warranties. “You should get at least a 1-year warranty and your credit card company usually provides additional protection.”

• Stay away from refurbished TVs, “unless the savings are massive.”

“The problem with refurbished TVs is that if your TV has more dents and scratches than you anticipated, return shipping is usually on you, and shipping a large TV can get expensive very quickly.”

The Connected Cheer Spreads to Advertising, Too

That big bump in smart-TV ownership is spreading to world of targeted advertising and marketing as well, with U.S. advertisers this year expected to invest some $7 billion on connected-TV advertising.

“Advertiser interest in connected TV is high as the number of cord-cutters and cord-nevers climbs each year and fewer people watch traditional linear TV,” eMarketer said recently in releasing the $7-billion estimate.

As for traditional TV’s share of the ad-spending pie? It’s expected to drop in 2019 by 2.9%, to a total of $70.30 billion, eMarketer says. That will result in its share of total ad spending falling below 30% for the first time ever.

Cord-cutting and smart TVs get much of the blame for the decline.“The number of US cord-cutter households will climb more than 19% this year to 21.9 million,” eMarketer notes, “reducing the number of pay TV households to 86.5 million.”

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