A combination of factors including LCD panel supply shortages and a slowdown in the typical deflation rate of retail selling prices, led to a drop-off in overall sales of digital television sets in North America during 2017, according to data gathered by market research firm IHS Markit.

The research showed TV unit shipments of all resolution types and sizes to North America dropped 5% to 41.1 million for the full year, with the bulk of the drop-off impacting mostly mid- and small-screen sets with HD and Full HD resolution levels. This is forecast to reverse slightly in 2018 with overall shipments climbing 2% to 42.6 million units – still below 2016 levels.

Fortunately, the impact of 4K Ultra HDTV continues to bring new growth opportunities to the largely mature television business, with 4K unit shipments of 18.7 million in North America for full year 2017, up a whopping 56% from the approximately 12 million 4K units shipped in 2016, according to the market research firm.

This gave 4K 45% share of the North American TV market last year.

In fact, 4K Ultra HDTV is in for another good year in 2018, with North American shipments slated to rise 33% to a predicted 24.8 million units, which would be good for 58% share of the overall market if the predictions hold up.

Of course, the overwhelming majority of those television models will feature 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD panel technology. This is because LCD has been around a long time and is the most cost-efficient to produce in large quantities. And despite the better picture quality across the board, price remains the No. 1 purchase consideration of most consumers shopping for television sales.

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According to the IHS numbers, 4K Ultra HD LED-LCD TVs represented 98.4% of television shipments in North America in 2017, down from 99.1% in 2016. But 4K OLED TVs continue to make gains in the premium segment of the television business, with both LG Electronics and Sony selling OLED models during the past year.

IHS said North American 4K OLED TV shipments hit 456,000 units in 2017, up 113% from the year prior. The display technology is expected to climb 57% to 718,000 units in North America during 2018.

As for television sales by screen size in North America, 50-59 inches (typically 50 and 55 inches) was the top selling segment with nearly 12 million units shipped to North America in 2017; 30-39 inches (typically 32-inch models) ranked a close second at nearly 11 million units followed by 40-49 inches (typically 42 and 49 inches) at 10.5 million units.

The 50-59 inch segment is expected to see the biggest jump in 2018 to 13.3 million units.

Interestingly, 2017 was the first year that HD (720p) resolution disappeared entirely from televisions with screen sizes measuring 40-inches and larger and only 31.5% of Full HD models were represented in the large-screen segment. This will fall farther, to 24% in 2018, IHS predicts, as 4K gobbles up 76% of that big-screen market segment.


By Greg Tarr


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