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Worldwide Smart TV demand continues to grow

Shipments broke the 100 million mark for the first time in 2015, according to IHS, led by demand in China and North America.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Nearly half of all worldwide TV shipments in the fourth quarter of 2015 were smart TVs, according to analysis by research firm IHS.

Web-connected smart TVs that give you direct access to streaming services such as Netflix and other features made up 48.5 percent of all TV shipments during the period. In total, 34.2 million smart TV were shipped in the final three months of 2015, said IHS. The research firm expects smart TV shipments to hit 109 million this year, growing to 134 million in 2020.

Smart functions are increasingly considered essential, said IHS analyst Paul Gray in a statement Thursday, which has created a shift to a self-sustaining demand for built-in Internet streaming capabilities.

Most of the demand was in China, where more 75 percent of televisions shipped last year were Web connected. Popularity in North America also increased from 36 to 48 percent. Demand throughout the rest of the world was mixed, plateauing in Japan and Europe, but increasing in Latin America.