Some data on the state of the TV market
I've often suggested here that the world may see a lot fewer TVs sold in the future. In the present, however, things may well be stable coming off the depths of the Great Recession.
1) Last year, according to WitsView, TV sales crept up a bit from 2015, reaching 219 million.
2) That's a 1.6% increase from the year before, so it's possible sales were flat to down. But it's also possible they grew 4% (though unlikely, no one reported gangbuster sales volumes)
3) The firm is optimistic that 2% growth is happening this year (I'm not, but hey, it could happen thanks to China)
4) Despite what AVSers believe, only 30% of TVs sold this year will be 50 inches or larger. That's more than a decade since they've been available and at least 5 years when they've been affordable. Yes, TV size is averaging higher. No, it's not doing what you think.
5) 4K is growing so quickly as a feature, it's going to be in more TVs than there are 50 inches. You may be confused by this because you are certain that TVs below 50 inches don't have 4K. Again, look mostly to China. But also understand that mid-40s-sized TVs will see 4K proliferation. (Combine this with news Amazon and Netflix are going to keep pushing for more 4K and that's good for resolution junkies.
6) In the broader market for TV-sized panels -- which includes all sort of industrial screens that aren't included in the above totals, e.g. some airport displays, factory-floor dashboards, etc. -- the same analyst firm see sales actually declining to 255 million panels. It's a small decline but still.
7) Looking at that category, which is nearly 20% bigger than "just TVs" so it doesn't map perfectly, reveals fascinating data about screen sizes (pay attention LG OLED fans!) n.b. These numbers don't include those OLEDs but it's a good proxy. And since LG shipped significantly less than 0.5% of the volume of LCD, adding them in won't change anything anyway.
* TV panels (not just TVs, because again... other uses + inventory shipments) greater than 60 inches (i.e. not including 60s) will be 5.2% of all shipments this year or a total of 13 million-ish. That's up sharply from last year when it was only 3.6%, perhaps 9 million. That's for the world. TV totals are lower.
* 75 inch? The forecast is 1.5 million, up from the paltry 0.7 million of a year ago. That's barely more than one half of one percent this year. It was about 1/3 of a percentage point last year.
* 65 inch? Expected to grow from 7.6 --> 11 million. That's a huge 45% jump and points out how popular the size is getting. Still, it means it's moving from 3% to 4%. When you add in the 70-inch shipments, you can now understand that even in the "jumbo segment" it's 80% @ 65, ~14% @ 70, ~5% @ 75. And an infinitesimal set of shipments at other sizes.
* The average panel will be 45.5 inches, up from 43.5. Interesting, if you look at the two categories of size 40-45 and 46-50 they are essentially flat as a portion of the total. The smaller one is shrinking (a bit), the larger one growing (a bit). Together they will be about 41% of all TV-sized panels, down from about 42%.
* 51-60, on the other hand, will grow about 20% in terms of share, reaching about 1 in 6 panels sold.
* While 31-35 remains a very robust size (dominated by 32) and has a forecast of 28% of the market (down a bit), there are essentially zero 36-39 inch panels. And TVs 26-30 and <20 are also mostly gone. 20-25 is about 4% of TV panels. <20, 26-30, 36-39 all together don't add up to 4%.
8) Think TVs are getting bigger? You'd be right. In fact, about 5% on average diagonally. That's actually a lot but still likely means the average TV won't be 50 inches or larger for another 3 years at current trends. (and those could break, but cannot realistically accelerate)
9) Think 4K is catching on? Heck yes, it will be >50% of all LCD shipments (and OLED) by the end of the decade.
10) Think >60-inch TVs are catching on? Sure, the growth is strong. But overall this remains a segment that is -- as a percentage of all sales -- smaller than luxury car sales are to car sales. (If you add Audi/BMW/M-B/Jaguar/Porsche/Lexus/Infiniti/Cadillac, they are a bigger share of all cars sold than TVs 65-and-up are of TVs sold.)
11) Sony weirdly is still in the top 5 in TVs. They make no meaningful parts of TVs and make no money selling them, but they sit behind Samsung, LG, Hisense and TCL. It seems inevitable they sell the brand to one of the two Chinese firms and just be done with it. Yet they haven't yet.
12) Apple sold 260 million video players last year: iPads and iPhones. That's more than the TV industry sold of TVs, no matter how you add it up. If you use the "all TV panel" figure, which is wrong, Apple is still bigger in volume. Throw in the other 1.5 billion smartphones and well, yeah.
13) I still tend to believe TV sales will erode below 200 million within a few years and that the bottom is closer to 150 million than many would think. While resolutions will rise again, I see no catalyst that will ever create a growth spurt like HD did. That doesn't mean sales never rise again, it just means they are cyclical from here and will not see any technical fix. 3D failed to catalyze sales, 4K is popular as a feature and should thrive but has not catalyzed sales either. The future of cool "screens" is AR/VR. It isn't living room panels.
14) TV sales are about 12-13% off their peak. That's bad but not PC-sales bad, which is >25%. If, however, I'm correct and TV sales are now permanently cyclical and in a secular decline around which the cycle flows, it's all-but guaranteed they'll fall below 200 million. The difference between current sales and a 25% drop off the peak? The equivalent of all the TVs sold by LG! There will be blood in other words.
There's a saying about "everything in moderation". If only it was applied to well, you know...