The global market for flat-panel televisions exceeded 20 million units in shipments for the first time this year in September, even though that volume was down from the same time last year, according to a new TV Intelligence report from IHS Inc.
Total flat-panel shipments worldwide reached 21.3 million units in September, up a bracing 19 percent from the August level. The bulk of shipments came in the form of liquid-crystal display televisions (LCD TV) at 20.5 million, up 20 percent on the month. Meanwhile, even the stolid plasma display panel (PDP) segment-normally on the decline-had a banner month with an increase of 10 percent, rising to 884,000 units.
Shipments increased in September on traditionally strong demand unfolding at this time of the year. The top TV brands in South Korea, China and Japan have been enjoying double-digit grown on average so far, approximating the expansion rate of the market as a whole seen in September.
The 20-million mark is a first for this year, even though in years past during the boom days of the flat-panel TV craze, shipments regularly crested beyond what now seems like a huge number. And the sterling result in September comes with an asterisk: growth is still down from last year.
LCD TV shipments, for instance, retreated 3 percent compared to September 2011 shipments, and the PDP segment was down a steep 34 percent. Overall, the flat-panel TV market worldwide contracted nearly 5 percent, from 22.4 million units one year ago in September.
UHD on the rise, even if just marginally
Shipments of ultra-high-definition (UHD) TVs continued to climb. In September, global UHD TV shipments exceeded 1 percent of overall LCD TV sets for the first time. The market for UHD televisions, which sport four times the resolution of so-called Full HD 1080p sets, debuted with great fanfare at the beginning of the year, but growth has been slower than expected.
At present top-tier TV brands like Samsung, LG and Sony are concentrating on the high end of the spectrum. Meanwhile, less well-known makers such as Taiwan's Innolux have chosen to develop UHD TVs for the low-end of the market, focused on making technology affordable when the sets sell in retail.
China sales prove disappointing
While the National Day celebrations in China every October can be relied upon to spur TV sales in the country, demand was weak this year.
Traditionally this is the hottest shopping season for televisions in China, coinciding with the weeklong festivities beginning on Oct. 1 to celebrate the founding of the People's Republic. In the lead-up to National Day, TV brands in China usually unleash an onslaught of aggressive marketing strategies, introducing new models to whet consumer appetite, offering discounts and launching a wide range of promotions.
This year, however, was different. All of the six best-selling brands in China-Changhong, Haier, Hisense, Konka, Skyworth and TCL-refrained from overly assertive marketing after profitability deteriorated, caused by intense price competition.
In general people were unmoved to buy new TVs this time, especially after the recent end in May of the government's year-long subsidy program for consumer electronics that included televisions. As a result, total LCD TV sales during the National Day holidays fell this year to 6.1 million units, down 2 percent from year-ago levels.
Read more >> IHS TV Systems Intelligence service