China Absolutely Dominates 4K TV Shipments and Will Rule 8K TV Sales Too
Stephan Jukic – March 09, 2017
As we’ve covered before here on 4K.com, the world’s single largest market for 4K TVs is China, ahead of the U.S, all of North America and the whole of Western Europe combines in 4K UHD TV sales, thanks partly due to its huge and still growing middle class population and partly due to massive production and retail efforts of extremely affordable secondary-brand 4K UHD TVs –it’s also worth noting here that some of these brands, like TCL to name a popular example, are actually also becoming major names overseas and in the U.S.
This trend towards huge sales figures for 4K UHD TVs is also set to continue and will even spill over into sales of 8K TVs for the consumer market when they do end up emerging for sale, according to the latest findings from the research firm IHS Markit in time for Cable Congress 2017.
Based on the white paper released by IHS Markit, 2015 shipments of 4K TVs in the Chinese internal market amounted to a total of just over 15 million units. This figure was well above that of the combined shipments between Western Europe (4,827,000) and North America (6,326,000 TVs). In 2016, this same trend only continued, with a massive leap to over 25 million 4K TVs shipped in China compared to 8.5 million shipped for Western Europe and just under 1 million shipped for North America (mainly to the U.S.A).
IHS is expecting these same trends to continue right into 2020, the limit of their prediction forecast for the new White Paper. In that year, the research firm is expecting to see Chinese shipments of 4K TVs reach over 44 million units alongside Western European shipments of 19 million units and North American shipments of 25.9 million of these TVs.
In other words, China’s trajectory towards adoption of 4K TV technology for consumers and other types of users is on a massively larger course than is the case with any other major regional market in the world. And bear in mind that we’re talking here about just one country. According to Paul Grey, chief analyst for IHS Markit,
“China is on a different trajectory to the rest of the world when it comes to 4K TVs. It is getting hard to by a large screen TV in China without 4K. Japanese set makers also aggressively switched to 4K product ranges, especially in the domestic market but shipments in Japan remain constrained by consumer preferences for screen sizes too small to support 4K”.
The reference to smaller TV sizes that aren’t so ideal for true appreciation of 4K resolution involves the vast majority of TVs smaller than 40 to 45 inches. Directly stemming from this is the general trend towards purchase of larger TVs among those who buy 4K TVs in the first place. Currently, the majority of buyers who go for 4K select models in the 45 to 55 inch size range, which is considered ideal for the new resolution while still offering considerable price savings. Many premium 4K TVs in the 55 to 65 inch size range also sell well but normally among more affluent consumer brackets.
IHS also places focus on the “pixel race” occurring in the LCD display market. Again, according to Grey, panel manufacturers are already mapping their production plans for 8K TVs and IHS Markit believes that this process will accelerate as new LCD laboratories start to actually produce the first 8K TVs that are aimed for the wider consumer market.
IHS Markit of course also predicts that China will dominate shipments of these 8K televisions when they emerge due to the fact that the country’s consumers will be eager to try out new features. For 8K TVs, an even larger average size of 65 inches is what’s expected to dominate, for the same reasons of pixel density appreciation that make average 4K TV sizes larger than those of HD models.
As for 8K video content, for now it’s a far-off landscape full of conjecture. Even 4K UHD entertainment sources for the tens of millions of 4K TVs owned by consumers worldwide today are still pretty scare on the ground. For 8K video, the data transmission challenges that continue to plague 4K adoption will be much greater and require a bit of time to solve.