Despite a relative lack of UltraHD content, 4K TVs are starting to make an impact on the retail market just in time for the holiday shopping season.
In its latest report on the global TV business, DisplaySearch found that 4K TV shipments surged more than 500% on a year-over-year basis in the third quarter, jumping to 3 million sets. With that increase, consumer electronics manufacturers have now shipped 6.4 million UltraHD sets across the globe during the first nine months of the year.
While 4K TV prices remain relatively high, shipments are accelerating because of "broader competition and more accessible price points," according to DisplaySearch. Paul Gagnon, director of global TV research at DisplaySearch, also credited the start of "a renewed replacement cycle in some key regions" for primary TVs, with consumers seeking even larger screens and higher resolution levels than before.
But it may take more than that to fuel continued strong growth for 4K, Gagnon noted. "With a scarcity of content and streaming options, much of the early success for 4K will rely on adoption campaigns from brands and price competition that will make it more affordable," he said.
China is taking the big early lead in 4K TV adoption, according to the report. DisplaySearch estimates that China accounted for more than 60% of the UltraHD set shipments in the summer quarter, easily outpacing all other nations and regions. Not surprisingly, then, China now commands the largest chunk of 4K TVs globally, with a 13% share of the overall market. Western Europe comes next with a 6% share of the market, up significantly since the beginning of the year.
With a recently expanded lineup of 4K sets, Samsung Corp. is far and away the leader in the global market among the consumer electronics manufacturers. DisplaySearch figures that Samsung captured 36% of the shipment revenue in the third quarter, more than double the revenue share of any of its closest rivals. LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) came in second with a 15% share, followed by Hisense Optoelectronics Technology Co. Ltd. with a 10% share.
The fresh market data comes as service and content providers continue to gear up for the coming 4K era. In the US, for example, DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) has started a 4K programming library, while Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has made noises about introducing a 4K streaming video app.
In addition, Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) has launched a 4K content library and programming tier, while Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) plans to start offering 4K titles free to some of its video subscribers. (See Netflix Shifts 4K Video to Premium Tier.)
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading