The changing face of the global TV landscape

Things are changing in the global TV market, with LED backlighting making a move on the conventional CCFL technology in the LCD TV sector, and plasma TV sales putting in a late surge in the closing months of 2009.

And brand shares are altering, too: in 2009 LG increased sales to give it 2% more market share, putting it on a par with Sony, which fell 2.9%. Both companies now hold 12.4% of the global flat-panel TV market, while Samsung is way out in the lead with a 23.3% share.

However, when it comes to revenue share, the two Korean companies did much better last year than their Japanese rivals, Samsung showing 13% growth and LG coming up even faster with 20% year on year improvement.

The big Japanese companies were down, however, Sharp by 23%, Sony 18% and Panasonic by 3%. That's despite all three showing an upturn in revenue share in the last quarter of the year, boosted by traditional holiday period offers and sales, and incentive programs such as the eco incentive points scheme running in Japan.

For the first time, the amount of the worldwide market 'owned' by flatscreen TVs broke 75%, with a 50% growth in shipments of LCD TVs, and plasmas up 7% year on year.

However, OLED TV, once much trumpeted as the next generation of TV technology, saw its market share eroded by 33% in 2009, as sales of Sony's XEL-1 slowed, while sales of CRT TVs fell by 37%, and rear projection TV shipments were more than halved.

Over 50m LCD TVs were shipped in the last three months of 2009, along with 4.7m plasma sets. And while CRT TV may be in decline, that didn't stop over 12m sets being shipped.

400 OLED TVs were sold in the same period.

Much of the growth of world flatscreen TV sales is down to emerging markets such as China, which saw its flat TV market more than double from 2008 levels.

But industry research company DisplaySearch, presenting the figures, said another factor has been the growth of budget sets, maybe as second-set buys, in developed markets such as North America, where sales of sub-40in TVs grew faster than those of larger TVs.

LED-lit TVs have come a long way in a short time

LED backlighting now accounts for 4% of total LCD TV sales volume, but 11% of sets over 40in are now LED-lit, and 24% of those of 50in and larger.

What's more, DisplaySearch says the price of LED edge-lighting systems is falling much faster than that of conventional CCFL 'tube' lighting, meaning that the price-premium for such sets should continue to reduce.

It envisages this trend continuing as production increases, and improvements are made to LED intensity, which should require the use of fewer LED chips per TV.

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Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.