By Woo Jae-yeon
SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Electronics Co. is accelerating its move to stay ahead of the rapid changes of the way people consume news and entertainment on TV by enhancing content and services available exclusively on its smart devices, a senior executive has said.
As the world's biggest TV and smartphone maker, Samsung is in a dominant position to provide "end-to-end holistic experiences," said Kim Sang-yoon, senior vice president and head of product management at Samsung Electronics America, during a briefing at the company's research center in San Francisco on Saturday (local time).
"I thought there would be so many things we could do on our TVs as the No. 1 device manufacturer to help consumers in many ways," Kim recalled back in 2013 when he joined the company.
The way people discover the world and seek news and entertainment is rapidly changing, he said, adding Samsung has been working to develop innovative ways to deliver content and enhance user experiences.
While hardware is key to deliver content, software from cloud gaming to TV programming is just as important, if not more, he added.
In 2015, Samsung launched Samsung TV Plus, an ad-supported free video streaming service exclusively on Samsung TV and mobile devices. Since 2022, it has been available on the company's Family Hub fridge to make a kitchen the center of family activities at home.
"While we are offering content for free, we have created business opportunities not only for us but also for our partners," he said.
Samsung TV Plus is available on 465 million Samsung devices in 24 countries, with more than 1,800 channels globally, according to the company. Total hours streamed had reached 3 billion hours globally last year, doubling the number from 2021.
The fast growth reflects changing media consumption behaviors, he said, such as a drop in traditional TV viewing via cable or satellite at home to 56 percent in 2021 from 76 percent in 2015, and a fast rise in streaming service subscription.
Gaming is another pillar of Samsung's smart TV business, with physical games being gradually replaced with digital ones like mobile and streaming games.
"We think physical games using devices such as a console will soon be long gone," he said.
Samsung's gaming business is particularly important in the U.S. market, he said, where around 66 percent of adult Americans play video games, and time spent on gaming a week rose to 13 hours last year from 12 hours in 2021.
In June last year, Samsung launched Gaming Hub to enable gaming directly on select TVs to tap into the huge market. The hub supports Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, Nvidia's GeForce NOW and Amazon's cloud gaming service Luna, among others, and up to 2,500 streaming games will be available by the end of this year.
"The limitations of a console will be gone and all you need is a TV and a controller, so we've been extensively preparing for (gaming) market changes that will bring changes in our business model," Lee said.
Digital art takes up yet another important part of Samsung's smart TV business, he said, amid a change of art consumption at home.
While digital art is still a small market compare with analog artworks on canvas, "demand for digital art is growing as digitization democratizes art access," he said.
With online art sales and interest in digital art rising over the past few years, Samsung Art Store, an art curation service launched in 2017, offers more than 2,000 artworks by 700 artists in partnership with more than 50 museums, including the Louvre, art galleries and individual artists around the world, according to the company.
"Why should the biggest screen at home remain black? Time for change has come and a beautiful art piece should be on display while the TV is off," he said.
"I am sure the business will take off, not because we want it to succeed, but consumers will ultimately want to put the Art Store on their wall."
Art Store subscriptions have grown at an annual rate of more than 150 percent since the launch, the company said.
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