The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) this week issued its mid-year 2020 U.S. Consumer Technology Sales & Forecasts showing that after an initial sales spike for TVs and video devices in the first half of the year, activity is expected to settle back and even decline as the overall population continues to feel the effects of the corona-virus-interrupted economy.

The CTA forecasters now expect “cash-strapped consumers to pull back on big ticket items like televisions, smartphones and laptops. Those who follow through with purchases will likely seek out deals at lower price points, which will also contribute to drops in hardware revenues.”

Among the categories impacted the hardest will be video products, digital imaging products and televisions, the later of which were among the big winners at the start of the pandemic.

“But early 2020 purchases likely represent sales pulled forward from the 2020 holiday season,” CTA now says it believes.”Consumers are expected to veer away from premium sets and will opt for discounted products this year, which will result in a 16% revenue decline for LCD TVs.”

The video technology category — which includes TVs, Blu-ray, Set-Top Boxes, Cameras — will be one of the worst impacted markets in 2020, and will see a 13% decline in shipment revenues, the CTA said.

While TV sales have been a relatively strong in the first half of 2020, CTA expects weaker sales in the second half of the year — leading to a 6% decline in total shipments of TVs. Looking ahead to the second half of 2020, TV sales will be challenged by lower-end demand, given that the health crisis activated so many buyers earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, with the lack of events, social gatherings, limited travel and mandatory stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, the category of digital imaging has experienced lower demand and shipments during 2020.

CTA said the biggest stories of the year in the video and display sectors have been set top-boxes in 2020: the continuation of cord cutting, and the affect of COVID-19 has had on streaming media player sales. The outlook for traditional set-top boxes looks weak, CTA said, both in the near term and long term.

“Lower prices may keep boxes moving but will significantly impact revenue for the category, which we expect to drop 14% in 2020 to $21.1 million,” the CTA report states.

Alternatively, the outlook for streaming media players looks quite strong for 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders.

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There was no other category impacted more by COVID-19 than video and display technology. As such, CTA estimates that devices in this category will drop with only a few products providing bright spots.

Among them: OLED TVs and streaming media players. Among video players, an estimated 59% of the category in 2020 is expected to be Blu-ray players. Standard DVD players will represent 30% of the mix and the remaining 11% will be the newer 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player category, which are mostly higher ticket items, comparatively.

Overall U.S. factory revenue from video components is expected to decline 17% to $272 million, CTA predicts.

By product units, U.S. UHD Blu-ray player shipments hit 571,000 in 2019, CTA said, and is estimated to be declining to 421,000 in 2020, and 455,000 units in 2021.

Comparatively, standard HD Blu-ray Disc players accounted for 2,989 million U.S. unit shipments in 2019 and should end 2020 with 2,989 million unit shipments. For 2021, CTA forecasts the category in the U.S. to drop to 2.39 million units.

Meanwhile, U.S. factory shipments of DVD players tallied 1.746 million units in 2019, dropping to a forecast 1.332 million in 2020 and a projected 1.072 million factory shipments in 2021.

As for factory shipments to the U.S. of TV units, the CTA said 38,672 U.S. factory TV display unit shipments are estimated for 2020, down 6% from 41,157 million units in 2019. The category should rebound somewhat in 2021 to 40,122 U.S. factory units, CTA said.

While TV sales have been relatively strong in the first half of 2020, CTA expects weaker sales in the second half of the year — leading to a 14% decline in total revenue of TVs. 2021 should see positive growth, but the long-term growth outlook for the category is dim, the CTA warns.

Still, the report said, “deep discounting on premium sets (e.g., 8K UHD, OLED) could lure some buyers into the market.”

4K UHD sets will account for better than 60% of TV unit shipments in 2020, the CTA estimates. In 2019, for the first time ever, the number of TVs shipped with 4K screens (55%) was more than non-4K screens, according to the industry group. CTA expects that growth to accelerate and reach almost 65% by the end of 2020, and 68% in 2021.

U.S. 4K UHD television factory unit shipments, reached 22,462 units in 2019, the CTA said. This will rise to 24,728 by the end of this year, and to 27,426 units by the end of 2021.

By display technology type, LED-LCD TVs of all resolution levels reached 39.593 million units shipped in 2019, declining to 36,768 factory unit shipments by the end of 2020 and 37.737 units in 2021.

OLED TVs will be among the winners, accounting for 27% expected revenue growth this year. For a three-year perspective U.S. OLED TVs shipped some 1.105 million U.S. factory units in 2019, rising to 1.403 million units in 2020 and 1.895 in 2021.

Another growth segment is smart TVs, which saw U.S. factory unit shipments of 33.806 million in 2019, rising to 34.821 million in 2020 and 36.213 units in 2021.

Video front projectors also continue to suffer with the popularity of larger and larger flat-panel TVs, the CTA finds. In 2019, U.S. factory unit shipments of home theater video projectors was 531,000. This is expected to decline to 501,000 units by the end of 2020 and 491,000 units by the end of 2021.

In the digital imaging segment, CTA said 7.1 million digital imaging products will be shipped in 2020. “The digital imaging market is holding strong thanks to enthusiasts and professionals,” the report states.

Nevertheless, digital imaging revenue an 11% factory revenue decrease is expected in 2020 due to the tough market and underlining economic factors, the CTA said adding: “We believe the total revenue for digital cameras will be just under $2.5 billion.”

At the same time a relatively steady -1% decline is forecast for average unit price (ASP) as consumers continue to leave the dedicated camera market.

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By Greg Tarr

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