Santa Clara, Calif. — The latest report on global Ultra HD TV shipments from NPD’s DisplaySearch offered both good and bad news for retailers looking for some relief to the underperforming television market.
The good news is that, thanks to a dramatic end-of-year surge, global 4K LCD TV shipments reached 1.6 million units in 2013, with nearly 1 million units alone shipped in the fourth quarter.
DisplaySearch said the growth was significantly driven by China, although shipments from other countries more than doubled in the fourth quarter as well.
The bad news is that the rapidly accelerating demand for the technology is driving 4K LCD panel and TV prices down at a fast pace, meaning the window for profit taking is narrowing.
According to the latest NPD DisplaySearch “Quarterly Global TV Shipment and Forecast Report,” Chinese brands comprised 84 percent of global 4K TV shipments in 2013 and 80 percent of 4K TV shipments in the fourth quarter.
“4K TV remains on an aggressive growth trajectory, but the expectations of the supply chain are extremely high, relative to observed market performance and current retail pricing levels so far,” said Paul Gagnon, NPD DisplaySearch global TV research director. “With panel price premiums falling rapidly, and a growing chorus of non-Chinese brands pushing 4K, it is possible for retail set prices to fall quickly to improve volume, but at the expense of profits.”
Gagnon said the Chinese market and brands continue to be a rapidly growing part of unit shipments of LCD TVs overall and the driving force for 4K TVs in particular.
The majority of 4K TV volume in China was primarily concentrated in the 39-, 50- and 55-inch screen sizes. Outside of China, 4K TV sizes were heavily focused on the 55-inch and 65-inch models sold by Sony, Samsung and other global brands.
“4K is a very important strategy for most brands, but particularly those targeting the high-end TV market,” Gagnon said. “In fact, while Chinese brand Skyworth held the top overall 4K TV shipment share worldwide in 2013, Sony maintained the top shipment share of 4K TVs outside of China, which is a position they have held since the second quarter of 2013, but one which will be challenged significantly this year by low-cost competitors from China and elsewhere.”
According to DisplaySearch, the trend toward 4K is an important one for the TV industry, as global shipments of TVs fell 3 percent in 2013 and even high-growth categories like LCD TV only rose 2 percent after a 1 percent decline in 2012.
Gagnon said that “for TV manufacturers, the focus on profitable and growing market segments, like 4K, larger screen sizes and smart TVs, is critical in the absence of global market growth.”
The report is available with greater detail from DisplaySearch.com.