Michelle Clancy | 25-07-2013
While ultra high definition (Ultra HD) sets will be relegated to a small share of total television shipments for the next few years, recent moves by panel-makers and brands to reduce costs and increase the availability of content have bolstered the long-term shipment outlook, with nearly five million expected to ship in the United States in 2018, according to IHS.
Starting from a mere 200,000 units this year, shipments of Ultra HD LCD TVs in the US will rise by a factor of 23 to reach 4.6 million units in 2018, the firm said. The category will grow to account for 13% of total US LCD television shipments in 2018. In comparison, it will represent only a small share of the market in the near term, at 1% of the US LCD TV market in 2013, 3% in 2014 and 5% in 2015.
While IHS had previously forecast global Ultra HD shipments to amount to only 2.1 million units in 2017, that now has been raised to 3.6 million in the US alone, reflecting the rapidly improving outlook for the market.
"Pricing for [Ultra HD] sets is expected to come down dramatically in 2013 and the following years, making them much more affordable for consumers on average," said Veronica Thayer, analyst for consumer electronics & technology at IHS. "Just as importantly, Ultra HD television brands are striving to avoid repeating the mistakes they made with 3-D TV — namely, attempting to charge a major price premium for a feature that lacked sufficient content to generate consumer interest. Recent developments indicate the TV-makers have learned key lessons from the 3D debacle that will boost the long-term outlook for Ultra HD shipments."
The average Ultra HD TV will cost four times as much as the average for all LCD TVs in the United States in 2013. However, by 2018, that cost multiple will narrow to 2.6. In 2018, the average shipping price of an Ultra HD TV will fall to slightly less than $1,200, down from $3,128 in 2013.
Top panel suppliers such as Samsung, LG Display, AUO and Innolux are all introducing Ultra HD LCD TV panels, with TV brands like Sony, Sharp, Samsung, LG Electronics and many Chinese names are launching or planning to introduce their own offerings later this year. With the panel representing the most expensive portion of the set, this flood of products at various price points and sizes will help drive down pricing.
And many TV brands are actively working to provide Ultra HD content, either through upscaling or through the creation of proprietary Ultra HD content, IHS noted. Already, Japan has plans to begin Ultra HD broadcasting as soon as 2014, two years earlier than originally planned. Also, 4K cameras and camcorders are now on the market, enabling creation of Ultra HD content. Movies in Ultra HD likewise are starting to show up.
The increased focus on Ultra HD LCD TVs comes in part from delays in commercialisation for OLED TVs, an advanced technology that has encountered various challenges in manufacturing. OLED's fumble has led to opportunity for Ultra HD LCD TVs, allowing them to claim the high-end position in the global television market, the researchers concluded.