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Billions of net-ready boxes in homes by 2016

Will anyone still watch broadcast TV?

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Punters may not be turning to internet-connected smart TVs in their droves, but the near future looks set to be a bumper time for gadgets that bridge the gap between the net and ordinary HD TVs.

US market watcher NPD In-Stat reckons that there were some 256.8m devices - among them set-top boxes, games consoles, Blu-ray Disc players, and IPTV boxes like the Apple TV and Boxee Box - in folks' homes around the world.

By 2016, that total will have jumped to 1.34 billion gadgets, a compound annual growth rate of 52.6 per cent.

The good news for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo is that their offerings, current and future, are the devices consumers are most likely to use to get internet content onto their tellies. There will be some 36.7m net-connectable consoles in homes come 2016, In-Stat reckons.

UK pollster YouGov reported this week that games console ownership "saw a big uplift" over the Christmas period. All of the current consoles can access one or more net TV services.

There's an interesting corollary to all this. With so many net-connectable gadgets out there, all capable of picking up content from an every wider variety of online streaming and download services, will anyone be watching broadcast TV by then?

If not, shouldn't we consider it time to abolish the UK's telly tax, aka the TV Licence? ®

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