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Ultra-HD TV Shipments Top 1 Million Units Globally

15 May, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Global shipments of ultra-high-definition (UHD) TVs topped 1 million units for the first time in March — up from 380,000 units shipped in February, according to new data from IHS.

Indeed, just 150,000 UHD TV units shipped in March 2013, underscoring the renewed focus major TV manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony and LG have put on the format.

UHD TV panels feature four times the resolution of full high-definition 1080p panels, featuring higher contrast ratios and extremely lifelike images, according to IHS. Underscoring the surge of shipments in March, four of the market’s six panel makers enjoyed shipment growth rates exceeding 100% compared with February levels.

Renewed interest in UHD could be in response to Netflix streaming select programming (“House of Cards,” “Breaking Bad,” Sons of Anarchy”) in 4K resolution, which requires an UHD TV. The streaming pioneer at CES announced a partnership with LG to imbed 4K streaming apps in 12 of its UHD TVs.

IHS contends UHD pre-stocking orders for China’s Labor Day holiday at the beginning of May, and the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in June, are driving UHD shipments. Holidays in China are often a high point of anticipation for panel makers as Chinese consumers shop more, while global sports events such as the World Cup trigger higher sales than usual for large-sized or higher-technology television sets.

Also driving UHD TV market expansion is the fact South Korean TV manufacturers have upped production in lower-cost units — with a catch. Many of the new less-expensive UHD TVs include so-called “green” display panels, which are cheaper because they use fewer display driver-integrated circuits and a different pixel pattern resulting in only three-quarters of true 3180 x 2160 UHD resolution.

“Demand for these cutting-edge displays has been slow in growing, mainly because the televisions using the panels have proved prohibitively expensive,” Linda Lin, senior analyst for large displays at IHS, said in a statement. “But with the technology becoming more pervasive, coupled with increasingly aggressive marketing from panel manufacturers, UHD TV panels are starting to take off.”

Indeed, by year-end, UHD shipments are forecast to reach 15.2 million units, up from 3.1 million units in 2013, accounting for 6% of the total LCD TV panel market this year. Panels 60-inches or larger will be the sales drivers, expected to take 27% of the total UHD panel space.


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