Sales of Ultra HD (4k) TV sets have risen dramatically against a background of increasing screen sizes and falling prices.

Nigel Catlow, business group director, consumer electronics, told the SES Ultra HD Conference in London that in 2014 the UK market was 200,000 pieces.

“What we’ve had in the TV market is an explosion of flat screens. We’ve seen sales of 70 million sets into 26 million homes.” Catlow explained this was a replacement market that made it tough for manufacturers and retailers to expand the market. “When people replace they then want to replace with better, leaving much room for innovation.” Catlow told delegates there had been a massive increase in screen size but a reduction in footprint as sets have got smaller.

In 1994 the average set boasted a 19 inch screen. Over time the average screen size sold had moved up by an inch a year to head close to 40 inches. At the same time the average price has reduced the cost per inch from £16 in 1994 to £10 in 2014.

50 inch TVs now represent one third of market value, which Catlow described as being an ‘enormous potential’. A side effect has been a growth in the Soundbar market.

With prices for a 4k set now well below £1,500 there has been a rapid rise in monthly volumes. By December 2014 the average price was below £1,000, and half the market volume is now below that price.

Internationally, Catlow said France, Germany and the UK all sold around 200,000 units in 2014, 60,000 in December.

Catlow said a rapid decline in price was to be expected. This was currently at £175 on average screen sizes, leading to greater take up.

GfK is currently forecasting a market of 2 million pieces within three years.

However, Catlow said Freeview HD, which had a greater amount of content available at the same point in its growth, was also ahead on sales.