According to a WitsView global television shipment study, approximately 219 million television units shipped world wide during 2018, up 4.1% from a year ago.

The WitsView study, which was reported Wednesday by international media news site, found that much of the growth for the year came from replacement purchases in emerging markets including Latin America, where coverage of the popular World Cup soccer tournaments was a key sales driver. More locally, a generally more stable economy in North America, also helped to improve TV shipments.

For full year 2019, the firm forecasts global TV shipments to climb 1.6% to 223 million units, with a greater percentage of models having generally larger screen sizes as OLED and LCD panel manufacturers ramp up capacity at new 8.6 Gen, 10.5 Gen, and 11 Gen panel plants in 2019.

Another factor contributing to the growth of TV shipments in 2018 was better availability of TV panels than the year before. This helped to drive down component prices, which in turn encouraged set manufacturers to offer price promotions more aggressively on finished goods, according to the report.

At the same time, the market for 4K Ultra HDTVs as grown significantly, with projections for market share surpassing 50% of all television sales in 2019. Meanwhile, unit shipments of the burgeoning 8K Ultra HDTV segment are only forecast to reach about 0.2% of the overall global market in 2019, as 8K panel prices remain high and pricing on finished 8K TV units is more than double that of comparable 4K Ultra HD ones, the WitsView study said.

The reports said it is too soon to predict that 8K TV models will follow the same rapid adoption path as 4K ones due to the absence of native 8K content, broadcasts, supporting source devices, and the need for numerous standards and formats.

Meanwhile, WitsView’s analysis pointed out that compared to 8K, TV manufacturers might have an easier time stepping people up to 4K models with better performance and feature specs, like the use of Mini LED back lighting and dual-cell LED-LCD television technology that achieves greater brightness, contrast, color and high dynamic range (HDR) levels by sandwich together two open LCD cells — one full color 4K cell and one Full HD monochrome cell.

Among the new LCD panel plants coming online this year are China Star Optoelectronics Technology’s Gen 11 facility, HKC’s Gen 8.6 facility, and Sharp’s Gen 10.5 facility in Guangzhou. The added capacity from these large-size panel plants are expected to ratchet up supplies while forcing pricing lower, enabling finished goods manufacturers to lower prices on larger screen 4K and even 8K TV sets.

WitsView believes that with large-size panel capacities achieving higher and higher levels, TV makers will be forced to compete more directly on improvements in picture and sound quality specs to generate brand value and win the point of sale.

TV sets measuring 32-inches and under will become even more heavily positioned at the entry end of manufacturers’ line assortments, as they will afford less room for feature and spec differentiation, and provide the weakest profit margins, WitsView reportedly stated.

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As a result, more and more development and marketing emphasis will be placed on larger-screen sizes and better added-value product performance, as 32-inch and under screen sizes are squeezed further to less than 30% of the mix in 2019.

Meanwhile, TVs with screen sizes of 55-inches and or larger will contine to climb, with WitsView predicting 65-inch and above models rising from 8.8% of the global mix in 2018 to 11.7% in 2019.

Here in North America, WitsView said some 2018 promotionally priced 65-inch TVs were positioned between $399 and $699, while virtually all 75-inch models were priced above $1,500. The report forecasts the favorable supply conditions ahead could lead to some 75-inch TV prices falling as low as $799 in the peak promotional periods from the second half of the year.

With such activity, the report warns that increased sales of larger screen size TVs won’t necessarily assure greater profitability in the years ahead as more and more TV manufacturers, including those with price-aggressive brands, will get into large-screen sizes, putting greater pressure on top-tier brands.

As a consequence, pricing on high-end technologies like quantum dot color filters for top-level LED-LCD TVs (aka QLED TVs) relative to competing 4K OLED televisions, will be driven farther down. WitsView predicted that Samsung’s high-end QLED TVs in the 55- and 65-inch screen sizes could see prices in the $1,000–$1,500 range during the holiday promotional season, while the prices of similarly sized 4K OLED TVs will remain above $1,500.

OLED display panels generally offer lower yield rates and therefore are more limited in production volume than QLED TVs. This affords less room for price compression.


By Greg Tarr


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