Surprise, Surprise: Flat Panel TV Growth Slowing

This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's taken a peak at the economy. While there's some growth, the flat panel TV markets are slowing, according to the latest report from DisplaySearch. Even though the economy tanked in the middle of Q3, the sales of TVs overall did okay. This is probably due to consumers gearing up for the digital switch in February.

LCD and plasma shipments rose 21% and 20% respectively, and rear projection sets fell almost 50%. Yikes! Thin is in.

Keep reading to see a summary of the study results.

From DisplaySearch:

  • North America LCD TV shipments rose 21% Y/Y to almost 8M units, a gain of about 6% Q/Q. 32” LCD TV shipments were again the most popular screen size, and saw pricing below $500 by some brands towards the end of the quarter, rising 15% Q/Q to 2.4M units. In fact, smaller LCD sizes saw better Q/Q growth than larger sizes with <40” growing 7% Q/Q and 40”+ rising just 3%, partially due to increased competition from plasma at 40”+ sizes. However, 40”+ sizes continued to demonstrate the strongest growth on a Y/Y basis, rising 31%.
  • Plasma TV shipments had surged in Q2’08 due to the re-introduction of 32” sizes and new model shipments by several brands, and the growth continued in Q3’08. Plasma TV shipments in North America rose 20% Y/Y to just over 1M units for two reasons: sub-$1000 pricing became widespread for 42” HD models, and 50” HD plasma TV prices approached $1000.
  • When looking at combined flat panel TV shipments (plasma and LCD), it is clear that growth is slowing down. During the previous six quarters, growth was at least 41% Y/Y on a unit basis and only one quarter had less than 50% growth. However, combined flat panel TV shipments in North America were up only 21% Y/Y, as cracks began to appear in discretionary consumer spending and competition from ultra-low priced CRT sets at the smallest sizes ate into LCD sales growth. Across all TV technologies, <40” saw the second straight quarter of Y/Y growth after declines the previous five quarters. 40”+ slowed to its lowest growth rate in over two years as consumers saved money by shifting their purchase from larger to smaller screen sizes in greater numbers.
  • Samsung had the #1 overall TV rank at 19.3% of units with a #1 rank in LCD and rear projection TV, #2 rank in plasma TV and #3 rank in CRT TV. In combined flat panel TV rank, Samsung was #1 at 19.4% unit share and had the strongest growth among the top five at 99% Y/Y. Samsung’s LCD TV unit share was up to nearly 19% on 111% Y/Y growth, while they regained the #2 plasma TV share position with at 24.0%. Samsung also held the honor of being the top ranked LCD TV brand in 40”+ sizes for the second quarter in a row, as well as maintaining the top unit volume in sub-40” screen sizes.
  • Sony was #2 in combined flat panel TV share at 12.3%, a 2 point share gain from Q2 on 73% Y/Y growth, the second highest Y/Y growth rate among the top five on new model introductions during the quarter. Sony sells only LCD TVs in the consumer space, so their combined flat panel TV share is only LCD TVs. Sony, along with Samsung, were the only brands to ship more than a million units during the quarter.
  • Sharp had the strongest Q/Q growth among the top five flat panel TV brands at 41%, and picked up more than 2 points of unit share to 9.0%, placing them in an effective tie with Vizio as the #3 flat panel TV brand. Sharp also saw a strong Q/Q surge during 2007 ahead of the holiday season. Like Sony, Sharp is an LCD-only brand, while Vizio participates in both the LCD and plasma TV segments. Vizio was also #3 in plasma TV.

My TV just started to act up last night. No matter what the economy is doing, I'm going to have to buy a new set, and it's going to be HD and it's going to be thin. That's just how I roll. —Leslie Shapiro