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Streaming goes mainstream: TV tops PC as most popular way to watch online video

When you watch video streamed from the web you're probably sitting in front of your computer, right? Actually, more people now watch online video content from their television set, according to new data from the NPD Group.

The market research firm found that 45 per cent of consumers use their TV to view streaming video from the Internet, up from 33 per cent last year. Meanwhile, just 31 per cent primarily watch online video from a PC, compared to 48 per cent a year ago. NPD collected its data from two separate surveys of 11,200 respondents.

The shift is a sign that consumers prefer watching TV and movies on big screen TVs, according to NPD. It was likely driven by the "rapid adoption" of Internet-connected "smart TVs", which offer direct access to online services like Netflix through TV apps.

"The growth in connected TVs is another sign that online video is maturing," Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis for The NPD Group, said in a statement. "Streaming video has moved from the dorm room to the living room; and, as more households obtain and connect TVs to the web, we predict increased trial and engagement for video distribution services."

Netflix - which recently surpassed the 1 million subscriber milestone in the UK and Ireland - was cited as the most popular app for web-to-TV video, with 40 per cent of those who view online video on their TV streaming from Netflix.

According to the study, purchasing a connected TV gives some users a reason to ditch their streaming media players, video game consoles, and Blu-ray disc players. Nearly one in five connected TV installations resulted in consumers no longer using these peripheral devices.