The latest investigations from the WitsView research division of TrendForce shows that, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, global TV shipment is expected to undergo a 5.8% decrease YoY and reach 205.21 million units in 2020. In the shrinking TV market, brands are vying for business growth by demonstrating their technical superiority, and this may be achieved through either improving specifications or differentiating their products. In particular, thanks to the marketing push of leading manufacturer Samsung VD, QLED TV shipment is projected to grow by 41.8% YoY, reaching 8.27 million units this year.
According to TrendForce Research Manager Iris Hu, given that the general public in many regions are issued stay-at-home orders because of the pandemic, there has been a surge in the demand for TVs that are 43 inches and under, which are suitable for WFH usages. In addition, the longer time spent at home means the public now also spends more time watching TV. The demand for a better viewing experience unexpectedly resulted in a wave of replacement demand for 65-inch TVs by the end of April this year.
Retail prices of 65-inch QLED TVs fell by more than 20% in 1Q20 and became a major selling point
Owing to its technical and cost advantages, last year Samsung VD was able to not only occupy more than 90% share of the QLED TV market, but also drive up the overall QLED TV shipment to 5.83 million units, a 230% increase YoY. In spite of the downturn in global TV shipment this year, the market for QLED products thrived on the flourishing stay-at-home economy as well as the sales promotions of Samsung VD’s older models in 1Q20, which resulted in retail price cuts of more than 20% for 65-inch QLED TVs in the North American market, incidentally creating a wave of replacement demand for new TV sets. On the other hand, as a relatively new entrant, Huawei made its foray into the TV market last year by releasing a pair of Honor Vision-branded smart TVs with consumer-friendly prices. In 2020, Huawei is making a major push with QLED product development as its entry point into the high-end TV market. The company is expected to compete with Vizio for the number two spot in terms of QLED TV shipment this year.
The OLED TV market faces the dual headwinds of hindered panel supply and high retail prices
Leading OLED TV panel manufacturer LGD previously intended for its Gen 8.5 OLED fab in Guangzhou to begin mass production in 1Q20, but this plan did not take place on schedule because of certain technical constraints. Furthermore, the mid-January onset of COVID-19 in China compelled Korean employees who performed technical roles at the Guangzhou fab to return to Korea. These technical workers would not recommence their work at the fab until April, in turn delaying LGD’s mass production of OLED panels.
On the other hand, although many TV brands, including Sharp, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Vizio, are releasing OLED TV sets this year, TrendForce does not have an entirely optimistic outlook on the future demand for ultra-high-end TVs. Case in point, both market leader LGE and Sony have revised down their shipment targets for OLED TVs this year. TrendForce projects OLED TV shipment to increase by a mere 7.8% YoY in 2020, for a total of 3.375 million units, which is a 26.1% decrease from the original number forecasted at the start of 2020. Aside from the pandemic-induced slowdown in OLED demand, the more flexible pricing of QLED products will also represent a substantial threat to the sales of OLED TVs this year, since the latter have historically maintained a high retail price.