Smart TV app support gap

New Which? research reveals that manufacturers are abandoning support for smart TVs once they are a few years old, potentially leaving people with obsolete TVs.

We found:

  • Manufacturers pay licences to host apps such as BBC iPlayer or Netflix, so they may choose to only cover app licences for their newer products, and not their older ones.
  • Keeping apps such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix available on smart TVs requires agreement between the manufacturers and the third-party app providers. If they can’t agree, or either party changes their technology or software, consumers can lose services that they use and love.
  • In some cases, manufacturers refuse to guarantee the availability of apps on their smart TVs, acknowledging that they may be removed without notice.
  • To watch Netflix, ITV Player or 4 On Demand on your smart TV that’s a few years old, the apps would have to have been around when you first bought the set. For example if you wanted to enjoy the Netflix app on your 2011 smart TV, you could end up having to buy extra equipment or even a new TV.
  • We’re supporting the government’s Consumer Rights Bill which will give consumers clearer rights on digital content and products. In the mean time you may have a case under the Sale of Goods Act if your smart TV doesn’t live up to its claim.

Which? editor, Richard Headland, said:
“Consumers have every right to a reasonable lifespan for the products they buy, and this should extend to support for the services these products are marketed with in the first place. It’s good to see the Consumer Rights Bill bringing the law into the 21st century and making consumers’ rights clearer on digital content.”

Notes to editors
1. We looked at four of the largest TV brands (LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony) to see how apps on their smart TVs compared:

Smart TVs

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