Demand for TVs last year was especially weak in Japan, North America and… (KIMIMASA MAYAMA, EPA )
Global television shipments declined last year for the first time in more than a decade as demand for flat-panel TVs cooled, reflecting saturation in the market.
Television shipments last year fell to 238.5 million units, down 6.3% from 254.6 million the previous year, according to a report Monday by IHS iSuppli.
Shipments aren't expected to near 2011 levels until 2015, when the market research firm estimated them to reach 253.1 million units.
Manufacturers, meantime, are expected to offer more deep discounts and tout newer features, such as improved Internet-connected capabilities, to attract consumers. Many companies also are pushing larger, more expensive screen sizes.
Last year's numbers sounded "the coda for the flat-panel replacement wave that deluged the business throughout the 2000s," said Tom Morrod, TV systems analyst at IHS.
"This event marked a fundamental change in the growth trajectory of the market, with flat or minimal increases in shipments expected in the coming years — a sharp contrast to the double-digit increases seen prior to 2010," he said.
Shipments of LCD, or liquid crystal display, televisions fell for the first time.
"Although television shipments will stabilize in 2013 and growth will return in 2014, developed markets have become saturated with flat-panel televisions," Morrod said.
The TV market had been slowing before last year. Shipments rose just 1% in 2011 after increasing 11.6% in 2010.
By the beginning of the decade, IHS said, most consumers in developed regions already had replaced their old cathode-ray tube TV sets with flat-panel models, and many buyers in emerging economies also had made the switch.
Demand was especially weak in Japan, where TV sales have been plummeting, and in North America and Western Europe.
By television type, LCD shipments declined to 209.8 million units from 211.3 million in 2011. Plasma TV shipments fell to 13.1 million units from 17.9 million. And cathode-ray tube TV shipments fell to 15.5 million, down nearly 40% from 25.2 million. Global cathode-ray tube TV shipments will cease by 2016, IHS predicted.