Over a quarter of televisions shipped during the first quarter of 2012 had internet connectivity, reports NPD DisplaySearch. Over a third of sets shipped in Western Europe had an internet connection. A fifth of all sets shipped worldwide, and 29% in Western Europe, were smart televisions, defined as those that can access a branded portal, not just open access services such as YouTube. While still a relatively small proportion of the total television population, smart televisions represent a growing share of sets shipping worldwide and there are indications of growing consumer purchasing intent.

China led shipments of smart televisions, with almost 3.0 million in the first three months of 2012, ahead of Western Europe with 2.1 million and North America with 1.4 million.

Around half of all Sony models shipped worldwide were smart televisions, compared to 27% of those from Samsung, the market leader by value, and 12% from LG.

Research from the United States also suggests that there is consumer interest in connecting television to the internet. A study by Magid Associates found that 21% of consumers connect to the internet via their TVs in comparison to 16% last year. That includes the use of games consoles, which were still the primary means of connecting television to the internet, followed by smart televisions and Blu-ray players.

The study also found that 30% of consumers who do not currently access internet services through their television say they are interested in doing so.

Meanwhile, research from the United Kingdom, found that 13.5% of respondents already own a connected television, a quarter of them purchased within the previous year. A further 8% said they planned to buy one within 12 months, compared to 4% who said so the previous year. The same survey also found that 66% of smart televisions are actually connected to the internet, compared with 56% in 2011.

Speaking at a MediaTel event in London, Nigel Walley of Decipher said that people were generally looking to buy the biggest screen that would fit in their room and were not necessarily concerned with connected capabilities. While the user experience from previous products was rather poor, he said the latest smart televisions models were easier to connect and worth connecting. He warned that earlier products may be sold at a discount but may not be such a bargain if they are not upgradable to the latest technology.

The next revolution in television is explored in Connected Television Revealed, a forthcoming report from informitv. The Quarterly Smart TV Shipment and Forecast Report is published by NPD DisplaySearch. The Magid Media Futures 2012 report is published by Frank N Magid Associates. The MediaTel Connected TV Tracker is based on a YouGov online survey. The latest wave was conducted in May 2012 with a sample of more than 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom.