Viewers in China, Brazil or India are more likely to take advantage of the opportunities of web-connected television than those in the United States, United Kingdom or Germany. A study conducted by the consumer research group GfK across 13 countries found that western consumers are apparently stuck in an “analogue” mindset, whereas viewers in emerging markets are more likely to exploit the digital capabilities of connected television.

Viewers in countries such as China, Brazil and India appear more motivated to interact with programmes than those in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany. They are also likely to use more of the functions offered by the latest television sets. Three quarters of smart television owners in China reported using such features in the previous month, compared to half or less of those in the Western markets.

When buying a new television the ability to connect to the internet is seen as less important than price, screen size and display technology, across all the markets surveyed. However, 64% of those in China and 61% in India said they were looking out for a net-enabled set, compared to just 29% in the United States and 26% in the United Kingdom.

Nonetheless, sales of smart televisions grew by over 30% in the first half of 2012 across the six biggest European countries.

While advanced functionality is more likely to be adopted as penetration increases, it is clear that this is not yet a base on which to build a marketing strategy.

“We are seeing the developing countries such as India, Brazil and especially China viewing an increasing amount of content away from a television set, but also using TV in a more advanced way,” suggested Richard Preedy, the research director at GfK. “They combine viewing a programme with increased levels of online activity — giving us a glimpse into how the West will start to move in the coming years.”

Discovery appears to be more important to viewers than interaction. The study suggests that 33% more viewers search for information on the shows they are watching than use social networks to share the experience with friends.

Globally, only a quarter of those surveyed thought that tweeting and commenting on programmes “enhances the viewing experience” while 28% said they found programmes that they can interact with to be more interesting to watch.

The GFK findings also suggest that intuitive control is important. The study found that 67% of respondents are interested in using something other than the traditional remote control. Smartphones, with touch and gesture control may have an advantage in this respect. The report suggests that devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and games consoles may be more appealing to viewers looking for media rather than a means of viewing.

The GfK research is discussed in the second issue of the TechTalk magazine published by GfK. The GfK research covered over 6,000 consumers in 13 markets and was conducted online in June and July 2012.