A quarter of all TV sets shipped globally in 2011 were Internet-connected, a figure that is predicted to rise to almost 70% by 2016, according to a new report by market research and consultancy firm IMS Research.

Internet connectivity on TVs is growing in popularity, as it allows a more interactive experience, allowing viewers to receive over-the-top (OTT) content. The Connected TV Sets – World – 2012 report is the third IMS Research study in two years to cover connected TV sets, and builds on unit shipment data from its TV Set Database. The report seeks to quantify and forecast total global connected TV shipments and revenues in seventy countries, further aggregated into five broader regions, as well as to provide in-depth analysis for connected TV unit shipments segmented by functionality, connectivity, operating system, and user interface.

It’s thought that the growing shift towards connected TVs will result in more than $117bn in revenues, and we’re starting to see more middle-of-the-range sets shipping with Internet connectivity included. “Internet connectivity is becoming a standard on high-end TV sets, and it’s increasingly being added to mid-end televisions,” says Veronica Thayer, market analyst, IMS Research, and author of the Connected TV Sets – World – 2012 report. “TV set manufacturers’ product launch plans are expected to drive the majority of the growth for connected TV sets during the forecast period.”

Android & WiFi on the rise?

Whilst proprietary operating systems will chiefly be used by manufacturers in the next five years, the study found that Android will start gaining presence and it’s expected to reach a “significant” share of the market by 2014. Moreover, during 2016, IMS forecasts that more than 80% of connected TV sets shipped globally will be WiFi-enabled, and around 30% will have advanced user interface features such as motion, gesture or voice.

“Connected TV sets will help boost sales of flat panel TVs as the awareness and the demand for Smart TV features increases,” adds Thayer. “However, the impact that Internet-connectivity will have on total TV set growth will be diminished by the availability of other Internet-connected devices such as Apple TV, Roku and game consoles.”

Indeed, we’ve seen a big rise in connected set-top boxes, with the likes of Boxee, Western Digital and Xbox all offering Internet-enabled alternatives to consumers wishing to avoid upgrading to a fully-fledged connected TV. Without these, it would seem likely that the escalation from simple flat-panels would happen a lot sooner than is currently predicted.

Meanwhile, Thayer is scheduled to deliver a keynote presentation Market Drivers and Inhibitors for Connected TV at the Connected TV World Summit 2012 in London today.