Consumer awareness of smart televisions and what they can do remains relatively low. While 13% of homes in the United Kingdom now have a smart television, up 2% since Christmas, only half of them use one as the main way of accessing online services on their television. Recent research from YouGov suggests that people are still more likely to use a computer or set-top box to connect their television to the internet.

Results from the latest YouGov Connected TV Tracker show that half of consumers like the idea of accessing online content through their televisions. Although 13% of the homes in the United Kingdom had a smart television in the first quarter of 2013, there is a lack of “conscious desire” to use the sets to connect to the internet, with only 6% currently using one as their primary means of accessing online media.

Instead, consumers are connecting their televisions through devices that are traditionally used to go online, with laptops and desktop computers being the most popular, at 24% and 12% respectively. The research shows that 23% of homes now use set top boxes as their main way of accessing the internet on their televisions. 12% generally use a Sky+ box to connect their television to the internet, followed by Virgin Media at 6%, Freeview at 3% and BT Vision at 2%.

The Connected TV Tracker shows that set-top boxes remain popular when it comes to watching catch-up television via a television set. Amongst on-demand viewers, 37% watch through a set-top box, while only 7% do so through a smart television.

The main challenge for television manufacturers is that connected functions are not currently the main motivation of purchase. Just over half of smart television sales are down to the buyer wanting an up-to-date television and a quarter of them to replace a broken set. Only 22% bought a smart television specifically because they wanted to connect to the internet through a television. Of those with a smart television, only 47% currently use it to go online on a weekly basis.

Dan Brilot, who is the media consulting director at YouGov, said: “People increasingly want to go view on-demand and other internet-delivered services on the big screen. However, this trend has yet to be harnessed by the Smart TV manufacturers as consumers show no real conscious desire to use their sets to connect to the web as regularly as they do on other devices. At the moment, consumers see getting online through their televisions either as a job for their TV provider or as an extension of their existing online devices.”

“Given sales of Smart TVs are increasing at a healthy rate, there is a real opportunity for manufacturers with regard to selling additional services such as apps that would provide them with increased revenue. Many people who buy Smart TVs seem to be largely unaware of the capabilities and opportunities offered by the devices. For TV manufacturers to gain traction in this area they need to showcase what their devices are capable of and offer them up as offering something distinct from both set-top boxes and other pieces of internet-connected kit.”

Smart TV is the latest quarterly report from YouGov on attitudes towards smart and connected televisions. The UK research is based on a nationally representative same of 2,000 people, plus a further 1,000 people with smart televisions. Survey fieldwork was conducted in February 2013.