Shipments to North American of flat-panel TV sets declined 3% in 2019 to 42.5 million units, according to year-end numbers compiled by Omdia (the new name of display tech research firm IHS Markit).

The firm further forecasts a 0.9% decline for the category (combined LCD and OLED) unit shipments in the region to 42.1 million in 2020. However, the impact of the coronavirus in China is taking its toll on display panel production and if not fully resumed by early next month, those forecasts could change. That means supply can be constrained for a period, and the impact on pricing is uncertain.

On a positive note, suppliers and retailers are ordering early and more heavily as a hedge, the research firm said, and the North American TV category is still seeing growth in more profitable segments, including very large screen sizes and new display technologies – like OLED.

Before we go further, many of our regular readers are well familiar with IHS Markit data and research, which we eagerly report and have long relied on for market perspective and detail accuracy. Last August it was announced that Informa Tech had acquired IHS and several other firms, all of which have been combined under the new umbrella brand Omdia. Those other research firms in the Informa Tech/Omdia family include: Ovum, Tractica and Heavy Reading.

“Omdia combines Informa Tech’s market leading analyst houses, OvumHeavy ReadingTractica, and the majority of IHS Markit’s TMT research, to create a powerhouse capable of meeting this challenge,” according to the company’s launch statement.“..Omdia helps Enterprises make better technology choices: saving money, saving time and managing their technology risk.”

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Paul Gagnon, Omdia executive director, consumer electronics research and analysis, technology research products and solutions, said his business group just published results for Q4’19.

Among the key data and forecasts are the following:

  • Worldwide OLED TV shipment growth in 2019 slowed to 19%, from 58% in 2018, as dramatic price drops in very large LCD ramped up competitive pressure. World wide LCD TV shipments were up just 0.5% in 2019, compared to 2.5% growth in 2018. Gagnon said “demand in China had already been falling in 2019, well before any demand impact from the coronavirus, which is having a serious negative impact in February in China.”
  • Shipments of 60-inch and larger TVs in 2019 jumped from 16% to more than 22% in North America, “which isn’t surprising considering the widespread availability of 65-inch TVs at or below $500,” Gagnon said. For comparison, the share of 60-inch+ only increased by 2 percentage points from 2017 to 2018.
  • 8K shipments totaled less than 120,000 units worldwide (almost all were by Samsung), which is well below expectations from earlier in the year. “Chinese brands stepping back from initial plans was the biggest cause for the lower sales volume, in combination of the huge price erosion for 4K LCD,” Gagnon said.
  • 4K TVs comprised 70% of North American TV shipments in 2019 and are forecast to reach 78% of unit shipments in 2020.
  • Shipments to North America of 30-39-inch TV models tumbled 34% in 2019 to 7.4 million units and are forecast to drop another 28% to 5.3 million in 2020 as consumers continue to gravitate to lower-priced bigger-screen models.
  • The largest moving screen size segment for North America in 2019 was the 50-59 inch category, which saw unit volume growth of 11.7% to 14.8 million and is forecast to grow another 10% in 2020 to 16.4 million units.

Regarding the possible impact of the coronavirus in China on TV production and global supply, Gagnon told us: “We’ve been publishing analysis of the coronavirus (COVID-19) impact on consumer electronics (TVs, smartphones, signage) and the supply chains for these products. The biggest takeaway is that while uncertainty is high, there is a definite impact to production, which could be severe if the factories can’t get back to full production by the beginning of March. LCD panel prices have been rising, both because supply is impacted from factories in China, but also TV makers booking more orders in case there is a prolonged negative impact, which serves to tighten the supply/demand situation.”

Gagnon reported that new models for 2020 are launching now, “so securing the production capacity is critical. The effect of the slowdown is felt most on basic commodities like packaging materials, which usually aren’t kept in inventory, and logistics for delivering materials and finished products.”

Stay tuned for further developments.

By Greg Tarr

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