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Global TV Shipments Decline

20 Jun, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Industry stalwart LCD falls in Q1 for the first time in history, while 3D units continue to increase slowly

Worldwide shipments of televisions in the first quarter of the year dropped 8% to 51.2 million units, compared with 55.6 million units shipped during the same period last year — the steepest rate of decline since the second quarter of 2009, according to new data from NPD DisplaySearch.

The biggest contributor to this decline was a slowdown in shipments of LCD TVs, which fell year-over-year for the first time in the history of the category, declining just more than 3% to 43 million units.

LCD TV shipments fell slightly from the fourth quarter in 2011, due to a seasonal shift to emerging markets where demand is higher, but is up four percentage points from a year ago, to 84.2% market share from 80.2%. LCD TV is capturing market share at 40” and larger screen sizes because of a sharp decline in plasma TV demand.

The average LCD TV screen size increased 5% year-over-year in Q1 2012, passing 35” for the first time, with gains in both emerging and developed markets. The share of LCD TVs with LED backlights also rose sharply, from 51% in Q4 2011 to almost 56% in Q1 2012, 20 percentage points higher than a year ago because more affordable direct-type LED-backlit sets began shipping in Q1 2012.

NPD said 3D shipments continued to grow, albeit more slowly in recent quarters, rising to just over 14% of total TV shipments and 16% of flat panel TV shipments. Demand for 3D in emerging regions is actually higher than in developed regions, with 16% of flat panel TV units shipped to emerging markets in Q1 2012, compared with 15% among developed regions.

Meanwhile, plasma TV unit shipments continued to decline, falling 18% year-over-year in Q1 2012, after an 8% decline in Q4 2011. The popularity of plasma TV among consumers is waning, and a large majority of the recent shipment volume remains centered on low-priced 2D HD models, indicating consumers are buying on price when shopping for plasma.

Finally, Samsung remained the top-selling TV brand, with 26% market share, up 9% from the same period last year. Other brands, LG, Sony, Sharp and Panasonic dropped from 7% to 23% in year-over-year growth.

Despite the weak results on a unit basis, demand for larger sizes continues to grow. The market share for 40-inch and larger TVs increased from just below 31% a year ago to more than 37% in Q1 2012, with total unit shipments for 40-inch and larger TVs rising 12% year-over-year. Larger sizes have become much more affordable with 40-inch to 44-inch LCD TV average prices below $600 and new 50-inch LCD TVs selling for less than $1,000, joining 50-inch-class plasma TVs that have been selling for less than $700 for several quarters now.

“Soft demand and cautious expectations about the upcoming year in many parts of the TV supply chain have led to a slowdown in shipments,” noted Paul Gagnon, director of North America TV research with NPD DisplaySearch. “Key component prices, such as LCD panels, are not expected to decline much in 2012, and many brands are concentrating on improving their bottom line. Both of these trends will contribute to slowing unit volume among a price-conscious consumer market.”


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