Ultra-HD TV panel shipments top 1m as fans get ready for World Cup

16 May 2014

Samsung's 110-inch UHD TV at IFA 2013

Ultra-HD (UHD) TV panels have passed the 1m milestone as global shipments experienced a near-threefold increase from 384,300 units in February to 1.1m units in March.

Figures from IHS Technology reveal the industry’s top 3 suppliers of high-end TV panels saw significant increases of UHD products in March 2014. Taiwan’s Innolux was the market leader, followed by South Korean manufacturers Samsung Display and LG Display in second and third place, respectively.

It was the latter that saw the greatest growth from February to March, with a 395pc increase in shipments. In fact, four of the market’s six manufacturers saw shipment growth of more than 100pc compared to February.

Forecasting five years of fast growth

UHD panels offer four times the resolution of full-HD 1080p plus higher contrast ratios, all of which adds up to extremely lifelike images. The strongest demand for these TVs so far comes from China, where both 3D TV and smart TVs have seen the greatest attraction.

Looking back at March 2013, just 150,000 UHD TV panels had shipped at this time. This year’s milestone figures have been attributed to a shopping boost during China’s Labour Day holiday at the beginning of May and preparations for the FIFA Word Cup, which kicks off in June. Global sporting events, such as the World Cup, are known to trigger higher sales than usual for high-quality TV sets – so much so that Samsung is banking on a boost for this quarter.

Over the next five years, IHS expects UHD panels to increase faster than other TV panels, with demand reaching 68.4m units by 2018 – an increase of 350pc on this year. However, overall TV panel shipments are expected to grow just 12pc.

“From the time UHD TV panels were introduced to the world for the first time in 2012, demand for these cutting-edge displays has been slow in growing, mainly because the televisions using the panels have proved prohibitively expensive,” said Linda Lin, senior analyst for large displays at IHS. “But, with the technology becoming more pervasive, coupled with increasingly aggressive marketing from panel manufacturers, UHD TV panels are starting to take off.”

As well as high consumer costs, UHD TVs also need to overcome a lack of available content, as 4K broadcast programming is not yet available.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.