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Martin Dew

HTF News Editor
HW Reviewer
Nov 1, 2017
United Kingdom
Real Name
Martin Dew
Martin Dew

Are you watching your TV or is it watching you?

According to research commissioned by ExpressVPN, one of the world's largest providers of VPN services, 25 Percent of Americans worry that their conversations are being monitored through their Smart TVs. New data released by the organization also reveals how much Americans spend each month to watch TV shows and that many use VPNs to watch foreign TV programming.

The results of the new survey revealed that Americans have a complicated relationship with their smart TVs. It also looked at how much Americans spend on cable and streaming services each month, what devices they prefer for their TV watching, and when and how they most use virtual private networks (VPNs).

The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults age 18+ was conducted online by Propeller Insights on behalf of ExpressVPN in April 2018. Americans invest a substantial amount of money in different cable TV and online subscription television services each month: more than half (55 percent) spend at least $50 and almost a quarter (24 percent) spend more than $100. What’s more, older Americans are spending more; while 44 percent of millennials (ages 18-34) are spending $50 or less, 40 percent of seniors (ages 75+) are spending $100+.

The most popular of the streaming services by far is Netflix, and more than half of American adults (54 percent) pay for a monthly subscription to this service. This is followed by: Amazon Prime at 39 percent, Hulu at 23 percent, HBO at 19 percent and Showtime at 11 percent. Americans love Netflix, but cable is by no means dead. 55 percent of Americans will be watching their favorite shows by cable or satellite TV this year. Another 31 percent will be using a media streaming device, like Amazon Fire TV or Roku, and 26 percent will use a smart TV.

While smart TV adoption is on the rise, there is also a cause for concern about privacy; 25 percent of Americans worry that their conversations are being monitored through smart TVs. With interesting breakdowns by political, age and sex demographics, those most worried about this issue include 30 percent of Republicans (compared to 23 percent of Democrats),
27 percent of millennials and Gen Xers, ages 35-54 (compared to 20 percent for Seniors), and 27 percent of men (compared to 23 percent of women).

"Americans aren't just watching Black Mirror, they're afraid some of its plotlines are playing out in real life, thanks to constant news about surveillance and privacy breaches,” said Harold Li, vice president, ExpressVPN. “People are really waking up to the need to take their privacy and security into their own hands.”

Furthermore, more than two-thirds of VPN users (71 percent) use VPNs to find TV programming or sports broadcasts from different countries and/or in different languages, amounting to 45 percent on a daily or weekly basis. About 1 in 5 Americans (19 percent) are currently using VPNs to protect their privacy, most often on their laptops (60 percent) and smartphones (54 percent), but 26 percent also use them with their media streaming devices.

A majority (53 percent) would consider using a VPN while traveling, in order to protect their privacy and security when using public Wi-Fi (35 percent), hide their location (21 percent), shop online for better travel deals (16 percent), or stay up-to-date on US TV shows while traveling (15 percent).

“Traveling safely isn’t just about staying on the lookout for pickpockets anymore. Making sure you can connect back home securely is paramount, particularly when you’re on easily targeted public Wi-Fi networks at hotels, airports, and coffee shops.” added Li. “VPNs help ensure that your internet data and activity is always protected by encryption and that you can connect to the content you want, wherever you are in the world..”

How many of our members here get just slight pangs of paranoia when they're conversing with their TVs or home-based tech? Please add your comments...
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