El Segundo, Calif. — Although ultra-high-definition televisions (UHD TVs) continue to make gains, their share of the overall flat-panel market remains low, likely due to their high pricing, which can be several times the cost of LCD TVs, according to a new report from IHS Technology. The other obstacles are the price of the UHD panels and a lack of available content, said the market research firm.
The market share of UHD TV shipments among the top 13 LCD TV brands globally reached five percent in May, up from four percent in April, three percent in March and two percent in February, according to the “TV Systems Databases: Monthly TV Shipments – June 2014” report. However, growth hasn’t increased by much since September 2013 when the market was already at the two percent level, said IHS. The top 13 brands account for more than 75 percent of total LCD TV shipments, and more than 90 percent of overall UHD LCD TV shipments.
UHD TV shipments are forecast to grow to 14.5 million units in 2014, up from 2.0 million in 2013. “Growth in this year’s global UHD TV market is a reflection of plans among TV makers, especially the Chinese, to increase sales. And expansion in UHD TV volume is mostly scheduled for the second half this year,” said Jusy Hong, principal analyst for consumer devices, IHS, in a statement. “In China, for instance, the share of UHD TVs continues to stay below 10 percent despite vigorous promotion by brands because high UHD TV pricing acts as a barrier for wider acceptance.”
Among UHD TV makers in May, the Chinese had the largest share of UHD TV shipments in relation to total LCD TVs, at nine percent; followed by the South Koreans at five percent and by Japan at two percent. However, the South Koreans shipped more UHD TVs thanks to Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, which accounted for 46 percent of total UHD TV shipments in May, compared to a combined total of 45 percent for the six Chinese manufacturers—Changhong, Haier, Hisense, Konka, Skyworth and TCL.
Overall flat-panel televisions totaled 18.1 million units in May, down 6.4 percent from April but up seven percent from the same time a year ago. Of the total, LCD TVs including UHD sets accounted for 17.4 million units. The remaining 708,000 units are PDP TVs.
In March, UHD TV panel shipments exceeded 1 million units for the first time driven by the three largest makers of high-end panels – Innolux, Samsung Display and LG Display, according to the IHS “LCD Shipment Database April 2014” report. Innolux’s 50-inch panel shipments in March totaled about 210,000 units, making up 47 percent of the company’s total UHD TV panel deliveries. Samsung followed with a 160 percent increase in 55-inch panel shipments, and also mass-produced 40- and 48-inch UHD TV panels for the first time, according to IHS. LG Display had its biggest month-to-month growth of 395 percent, shipping 42-inch UHD panels for the first time and doubling shipments for its 49-, 55-, and 65-inch panels.
The key driver this year in UHD panel growth will be the expansion of South Korean makers because of their new lower cost panels, according to IHS. Shipments of UHD panels are expected to grow faster than the total TV panel market, reaching 68.4 million units by 2018, up 350 percent from 2014, compared to TV panel shipment growth of 12 percent.
UHD set-top-box (STB) shipments also are expected to grow significantly despite a relatively flat three-year period in the global STB market, according to IHS. Pay-TV operators are forecast to buy 13 million UHD STBs in 2018.
“UHD STBs will be strategically important to operators in all territories,” said Daniel Simmons, director for Connected Home research at IHS, in a statement. “Beyond enabling an additional premium-content tier, HEVC use will result in more efficient Internet Protocol (IP) video distribution, allowing operators to offer superior OTT services. Pay TV is nearing saturation across the world, and under such conditions, operators will be increasingly reliant on the technology-based differentiation enabled by STBs to compete for subscribers.”
“Set-top boxes proved to be critical to the strategies of pay-TV operators in 2013,” Simmons added. “Far from being pushed out of the living room by Internet-enabled consumer electronics, STBs are being repositioned as the hub of the connected home. STBs increasingly are being transformed into multimedia home gateways (MHG), which combine support for pay-TV services with Internet access, residential gateway services, Wi-Fi and other advanced features.”