In 2013, 23.97 million Internet-connected TV sets were sold in China, according to the latest report released by Chinese research firm iResearch. The Internet-connected TV sets include both smart TVs installed with an operating system and traditional TVs that can get connected to Internet-enabled devices and display the contents from those devices.
There have been a many content providers of online videos, games and other apps, and smart TVs and other devices such as set-top box in China. iResearch estimates that Internet-enabled TVs as a percentage will continue to grow as the household broadband penetration rate is increasing and device makers are heavily promoting their products.
The competition in smart TV market has been driving down prices. LeTV, currently the leading smart TV and online video provider, now sells a smart TV model at a price as low as less than 1000 yuan (about $160).
However, it’s not that Chinese users can enjoy whatever available on their PCs or other connected devices on their smart TVs or through set-top boxes. SARFT, the Chinese state administration for film, television and other content only allows seven enterprises to provide videos for set-top boxes or smart TVs. None of the seven is as popular as video sites such as Youku-tudou, iQiyi and LeTV.
Last week the SARFT issued a notice asking set-top boxes such as Alibaba’s Tmall Box to stop providing those popular video services. A couple of days later the SARFT launched an operating system for smart TV. It’s unknown whether it will require all the smart TV makers to adopt it. It is believed the operating system cannot be so well developed as those by experienced Internet companies such as Xiaomi and LeTV.