Stung by plunging sales in Japan and declining demand in North America and Western Europe, global television shipments fell in 2012, marking a major inflection point that will have a lasting impact on the market, according to an IHS iSuppli Worldwide Television Market Tracker Report from the IHS TV Systems Intelligence Service at information and analytics provider IHS.
Global shipments of all kinds of televisions in 2012 amounted to 238.5 million units, down 6.3 percent from 254.6 million in 2011. Shipments aren't expected to rise back to the 2011 level until 2015, when they will amount to 253.1 million units.
Television shipments in 2012 declined for the first time for more than a decade, sounding the coda for the flat-panel replacement wave that deluged the business throughout the 2000s. This event marked a fundamental change in the growth trajectory of the market, with flat or minimal increases in shipments expected in the coming years-a sharp contrast to the double-digit increases seen prior to 2010.
While some specific events contributed to the downturn of 2012, such as the fall of sales to the Japanese market, the decline reflects a fundamental slowdown in the television market, with liquid-crystal display television (LCD TV) shipments falling for the first time ever. Although television shipments will stabilize in 2013 and growth will return in 2014, developed markets have become saturated with flat-panel televisions.
Television market hits a wall in 2012
The TV market had been undergoing a slowdown prior to 2012, with shipments rising by 11.6 percent in 2010 and decelerating to 1 percent in 2011. By the beginning of this decade, most consumers in developed regions already had replaced their old cathode-ray tube (CRT) sets with flat-panel models, and many buyers in emerging economies had also made the switch. Combined with economic factors, and with issues related to government subsidies and the analog transition, the slowdown of the flat-panel replacement trend contributed to the major downturn in 2012.
North America and Western Europe in 2012 both experienced significant shipment declines. Meanwhile, growth stalled in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region. Eastern Europe and China were the only regions to continue to enjoy rising shipments
The biggest reduction occurred in Japan, where shipments fell by 13.5 million units in 2012, accounting for the vast majority of the global decline of 16.0 million.
The decline in Japan was due to the end of the country's "eco-points" subsidy program. Starting in mid-2009, the program gave consumers points for buying energy-efficient products-such as light-emitting diode (LED)-backlit LCD TVs. These points could then be redeemed to buy other items.
Between 2009 and 2011, eco-points generated an additional 25 million television sets sold in the Japanese market. With the revocation of this artificial stimulus, demand declined in 2012, and the Japanese TV market will continue to be severely affected for the next five years.
The decline in Western Europe was predominantly due to the economic situation, combined with the analog switch-off. Markets such as France, Italy and Spain have experienced severe declines following analog broadcast switch-offs in 2010 and 2011. At the same time, there were declines in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Greece because of financial challenges.
There was, however, some growth generated by the more prosperous Central European nations, with Germany in particular still continuing to show impressive growth.
In North America, the decline was caused by a mixture of economic factors and by the fact that consumers had increased their demand in 2010 and 2011. By 2012, however, buyers had expended their disposable income for television purchases.
Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific market stalled because of lower growth than expected in India, together with declining sales in established markets such as Australia.
The Middle East and Africa continued their overall growth, but strife in certain countries-particularly Syria-had a negative impact on television shipments.
Television market rebounds in 2014
In 2013 the global TV market will stabilize, with shipments remaining flat compared to 2012, as economic conditions even out. Shipments will rise by a scant 0.3 percent for the year.
However, shipments will return to growth in 2014 with a 2.8 percent increase. The Football World Cup, to be held in Brazil, will boost Latin America sales, while China is expected to continue to prosper.
By 2017 global television shipments will grow to 270.5 million units for a number of reasons-as Chinese manufacturers flood the Asia-Pacific markets with new models; as Japan, North America and Western Europe continue to recover; and as ultra-high-definition (UHD) and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV uptake becomes more affordable.
LCDs fall for first time
The LCD TV market fell for the first time ever on an annual basis in 2012, with shipments declining to 209.8 million units, down slightly from 211.3 million in 2011. However, shipments are expected to return to growth and continue expanding through 2017 as new technologies like Smart TV and UHD increases.
Plasma TV shipments fell to 13.1 million units in 2012, down from 17.9 million 2011. This is partly due to Panasonic significantly reducing its supply of plasma televisions, and partly due to large-sized LCD displays becoming increasingly cost effective. North America continues to be a stronghold for plasma, as does China, but all regions experienced an annual decline in shipments. By 2017 it is anticipated that plasma will be a niche product, and that the market will have almost completely transitioned to LCD TV and to OLED.
CRT TV shipments slid to 15.5 million units, down nearly 40 percent from 25.2 million in 2011. Global CRT TV shipments will cease by 2016, IHS expects.