As consumers stream more OTT content than ever before, it’s important to understand which devices are serving as the key drivers within the category. By understanding this, you can identify everything from viewing behaviors to brand preferences to consumption trends in the streaming space.
With an abundance of devices currently available in the market, viewers have a vast number of choices on how they watch their favorite TV programs and streaming services. Amid this fast-changing TV landscape, smart TVs continue to maintain their position at the top of the CTV viewership list over streaming sticks, gaming consoles, and set-top boxes and are currently the fastest-growing segment in the CTV market.
In this blog, we explore smart TV’s continued dominance in the CTV industry, how this segment compares to rival streaming devices in terms of engagement and usage, and the key players driving the surge in smart TV adoption. Then going beyond the growth of smart TV devices, we share how CTV is reshaping the advertising arena and how it represents a powerful medium for connecting with valuable audiences.
CTV vs. OTT: What’s the Difference?
Before we dive into smart TV viewership data, it's important to understand the difference between OTT and CTV. CTV (short for connected TV) refers to any device that connects to or is embedded in a television set to support the streaming of video content. Smart TVs, gaming consoles (when used to stream video content), Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV are all examples of CTV.
On the other hand, over-the-top (OTT), according to the MRC (Media Rating Council), is streaming content consumed on a desktop, mobile device, or CTV device. This can include streamed audio content, CTV content, or any streamed digital video. If you're looking for more clarity on the meaning of CTV vs. OTT, check out our new video “What even is...CTV?”
Smart TV Viewing Surpasses Other Devices
The explosion in popularity of smart TVs is linked to many factors. Smart TVs have become much more affordable in recent years, have vastly improved interfaces, and come with many popular streaming services pre-installed. It’s the optimal viewing device that serves as the centerpiece of entertainment for most households.
In fact, more people are watching their favorite programs on smart TVs than on any other streaming device as shown in the chart below*. As of February 2022, smart TVs saw nearly double the number of CTV viewing households of either Amazon Fire TV or Roku. The rapid growth of smart TVs over the past few years helps explain why Comcast and Amazon have launched their own lines of smart TVs.
Growth like this is a clear indicator of an emerging wave of advertising technology. As the popularity of smart TVs and other CTV devices continues to rise, it’s important for brands and advertisers to use this growing channel to connect with everyone from cord-cutters to younger generations who have never had a cable subscription.
Smart TV Penetration Continues to Rise
Penetration of smart TV devices among CTV households continues to gain momentum, hitting 59% in February 2022 for an increase of 4% over February 2021 and 9% over February 2020. We expect that number to only increase in the months ahead as more households replace their older TV sets and upgrade to smart TVs.
Smart TVs Show Highest Y-o-Y Growth in CTV Landscape
Smart TVs remain the fastest-growing CTV device type in terms of both total viewing households and viewing hours. While streaming boxes/sticks like Roku and Amazon Fire TV are still the largest segment of CTV devices, the total number of households watching CTV content on smart TVs has grown 17% from February 2021 to February 2022. In comparison, streaming sticks grew 5% in the last year, with gaming consoles like Xbox One and Playstation 4 increasing by 4% in the same time frame.
To be clear, the numbers below only show the total households and total viewing hours related to OTT streaming activity for these devices. The number of households that own gaming consoles or spend time playing video games on these devices is most likely much higher.
Smart TV Behemoths Face Increasing Competition
When examining the device brands that make up smart TVs in connected home households, we see that big brands like Samsung, Alcatel/TCL, Vizio, and LG continue to lead the smart TV market. However, other companies are increasingly vying for a slice of the pie. Already, Amazon and Comcast have introduced their own lines of smart TVs, indicating a major shift in how people consume TV content and where the market is headed.
Looking at year-over-year market share for smart TV manufacturers, the same five brands have dominated the market over the past two years. While Samsung remains the most popular smart TV brand, its market share dropped by 7% from February 2020 to February 2022, most likely due to increased competition. In comparison, the market share of other leaders in the market remained relatively stable.
As more competitors throw down the gauntlet and make a play in the industry, it will be interesting to see how these changes continue to shake up the CTV market. With the market set to become even more fragmented, this will create more complexities for advertisers looking to target audiences across a swelling number of streaming services, apps, and branded devices.
CTV Disrupting the Advertising Space
With roughly 82 million households streaming content on televisions, CTV has become a mainstream media behavior in the U.S. Even as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and people began to venture outside of the home more, CTV consumption rates were still higher than pre-pandemic levels.
For marketers, this presents a massive opportunity as CTV continues to reshape the advertising space and brings the digital targeting capabilities of programmatic and online advertising into the television realm. Gone are the days when advertising opportunities were limited to a specific time slot and show. The rapid surge of CTV has ushered in a new era of precise targeting at the audience level.
With CTV advertising, data from websites and other digital channels can be used to deliver personalized ads to highly targeted audiences based on their behaviors, viewing habits, and demographics. This is powerful as it ensures marketers are targeting the right audiences and provides more control and transparency around measurement across streaming services and devices.
As CTV platforms continue to evolve and produce more content, the options for advertising formats are expanding. Marketers can now extend their reach and serve ad content on everything from smart TVs to game consoles to streaming devices/sticks and set-top boxes.
Smart TVs are by far the dominant CTV player due to key brands driving adoption and pandemic-fueled streaming leading to increased demand. While linear TV still dominates TV advertising in terms of ad spend, viewers and advertisers continually flock to streaming content in droves. That means it's crucial for agencies and brands to strike now and add CTV to their marketing arsenal to reach new, growing, and increasingly diverse audiences.
To learn more and stay connected with everything CTV, check out the Comscore CTV Solutions page.
*Set-top box data only includes WiFi-connected devices and not set-top boxes connected via a coaxial cable.