Shipments of television sets continued to defy expectations for the COVID-19 pandemic in the third quarter of 2020, with overall global unit volume up 15% from the same period a year ago to 62.9 million, according to recently released Global TV market data.

A recently released report from Omdia senior market researcher Paul Gray, said the volume marked “the highest-ever third quarter result.”

Omdia data indicated the robust demand for television sets registered the highest results in developed regions, as countermeasures for the virus increased the demand for home entertainment devices, while consumers staying at home reduced spending on dining out, vacations and commuting.

With extra cash on hand, many households upgraded their A/V entertainment equipment, particularly in North America, which “saw its best quarter ever, moving 16.4 million into the marketplace, Omdia data shows.

Gray’s report said this was “partly due to refilling a depleted pipeline,” but also indicated demonstrated new enthusiasm for the TV category.

Activity in emerging markets also fared surprisingly well, he said with COVID-19 hitting them somewhat later.

For total TV volume for the year to date at the end of Q3, total shipments continued to under perform 2019 in emerging markets, while activity in developed regions have seen growth from the first three quarters of 2019, he said.

Elsewhere in the world, Omdia said TV unit volume activity in China saw a quiet quarter as the result of “sharp rises in LCD panel costs caused by extremely tight capacity in panel fabs. With price increases in LCD panels of up to 60% this year, consumers are seeing rising TV prices and reduced promotional activity,” the report stated.

Omdia data also favored unit shipments of Ultra HDTVs (4K and 8K), which enjoyed strong shipments to make up ground lost in the early 2020 period, when shipments of small sub-4K sets registered strong take up.

“It was the second-best quarter ever, behind only the seasonally-strong 4Q’19,” Gray said. “UHD resolutions accounted for 58.6% of all TVs shipped.”

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Global penetration of 4K UHD TVs now stands at some 557 million addressable sets, Omdia said.

As for 8K TVs, Omdia said shipments outperformed forecasts, but still only accounted for 82,500 unit shipments.

“They have not yet reached breakthrough levels as a significant part of the TV market. Shipment share was flat at 0.22% of all UHD and 0.13% of all TV shipments,” he said.

OLED TV shipments also tallied growth, fortified by LG Display’s new OLED panel fab in China, which added to the supply, as rising LCD panel prices somewhat reduce the cost pressure on OLED TVs.

The penetration of Smart TVs in the period also continued to grow, reaching a record 85.9% of all TVs shipped, up from 79.2% a year ago, Omdia said.

“The results for 3Q 2020 are stunning. For North America shipments of 16.4 million units are the highest ever in any quarter since we have been tracking the market (the next highest were in 4Q 2011 and 4Q 2018, both around 15.1 million). The next-largest third quarter result was 12.6 million in 2016,” said Gray.

For Western Europe, shipments volumes stayed close to forecasts at 7.6 million unit, achieving the best third quarter since 2011.

Japan TV shipments also reached the best third quarter numbers since 2011, despite postponement of the Olympics.

As for TV manufacturers, Samsung has been the clear winner in all of the activity, moving nearly 15 million units globally in the period, Omdia data shows. LG Electronics was a distant second with more than 7 million units shipped, followed by China-based brands TCL and Hisense.

As for the outlook in 2021 and beyond, Gray said at a recent UHD Summit in Spain that it looks to be a tremendous year coming up for the take up of 4K, behind the return of major televised sports events, including the rescheduled Olympics, and Euro 2020 soccer tournaments, among other 4K televised events.

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By Greg Tarr

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