Analysts have warned that smart TV could well overwhelm broadband infrastructure as the popularity of internet-connected HDTVs and other home entertainment equipment grows. DisplaySearch estimates that 21-percent of TV shipments worldwide in 2010 were of internet-connected models, with numbers expected to climb to over 122 million in 2014. “The looming risk now,” DisplaySearch director Paul Gray suggests, “is what happens if every connected TV gets used.”
Smart TV manufacturers, he believes, are too used to the broadcast model of traditional media distribution – which readily scales to support large numbers of users – to see that IPTV and similar services are not necessarily ready for an explosion in usage. “With Netflix accounting for 20-percent of peak internet traffic in the US, it’s reasonable to ask if the infrastructure can cope” Gray suggests. “Set makers need to understand that broadband access does not scale endlessly like broadcast reception.”
The issue is only likely to become more pressing, as companies switch to streaming technologies – as with Netflix – versus one-time downloads. The revised Apple TV, for instances shifted Apple’s focus solely to streaming content whereas the first-gen model downloaded video instead; purchased and rented content is stored in the cloud and streamed on-demand.