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Americans adopt digital apps for Netflix

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NEW DELHI: A growing number of American households are relying on dedicated set-top/plug-in devices (otherwise known as Digital Media Players) to watch Netflix on a TV set, according to a GfK study, Over-the-Top TV 2014.

By contrast, video game systems – while still the most common hardware for Netflix viewing on a TV screen – are used much less than they were three years ago

The report shows that 28 per cent of those who stream Netflix on a TV used a digital media player (such as Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast) to do so; this is nearly double the 2013 level (15 per cent) and roughly five times the 2011 figure (6 per cent). The surge comes as ownership of the players among all homes has increased tenfold – from 2 per cent to 21 per cent – since 2010.

Streaming capabilities built into today’s higher-end TV sets have also become popular, with use of built-in streaming reported by 28 per cent of those who watch Netflix on TV – up from 20 per cent a year ago and 13 per cent in 2011.

On the other hand, reports of watching Netflix on TV through a videogame system have dropped to 43 per cent – down 5 percentage points from 2013, and almost 20 per cent below the 2011 level which was 62 per cent.

The new report also indicates wide generational differences in how people access Netflix. Generations X and Y are twice as likely as Baby Boomers to use a videogame system to watch Netflix on TV. Capabilities built into TV sets are highly favoured by Gen Y Netflix viewers, and both Generations X and Y show strong use of digital media players.

“The wide variations in devices used – and in preferred device by age – speak to a need for Netflix and other SVoD providers to optimise the user experience for each situation,” said GfK Senior Vice President and author of the report David Tice.

“Not only do the device interface and remote control need to be user-friendly, but things like on-screen font size and menus need to be age-appropriate. With a quarter of Netflix users also being Amazon Prime or Hulu viewers, there is a potential battle in user experience as well as in variety and exclusivity of content,” he added.

Meanwhile, Belgian telco Belgacom which has adopted a new identity as Proximus also plans to add entertainment streaming service Netflix to its Proximus TV offering.

Confirming the news, Belgacom Chief Consumer Market Officer Phillip Vandervoort said that Netflix was without doubt a very eagerly-awaited new player. “I’m proud to announce this partnership which reflects the dynamics of our new brand and enables us to offer an amazing experience to our customers on Proximus TV.” 

Netflix started offering its service in Belgium on 19 September, giving people access to a wide variety of TV shows, films, documentaries and other programming, according to Advanced Television.

Installation of the Netflix application on the new-generation decoders will begin at the end of 2014. ‘Ultimately all Proximus TV customers will be able to access Netflix on their TV sets,’ added the telco.

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