American football fans rushed to buy gigantic television sets during the countdown to the Super Bowl, spurring a double-digit percentage surge in U.S. shipments of liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs in January, according to the IHS Screen Digest Television Service from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS).
Approximately 2.0 million LCD TVs shipped in the United States in January 2013, up 15 percent from about 1.8 million during the same month in 2012. In comparison, shipments in January 2012 contracted compared to one year earlier.
January is one of the most important months of the year for the U.S. television market, when brands and retailers offer promotional prices on larger-sized sets to attract viewers during the run up to the Super Bowl, which took place on Feb. 3 this year. However, the allure of large-sized televisions to U.S. consumers was also enhanced this time by a protracted decline in pricing.
“The cost of LCD TVs sized 50-inches and larger has been plunging since the second half of 2012 as television brands introduced new models,” said Jusy Hong, senior analyst, television, for IHS. “This rise in competition helped propel strong growth for large-sized LCD TV sales during the Super Bowl sales season in January. Shipments of LCD TVs sized 60-inches and larger showed particularly strong gains, with their penetration of the market tripling in January compared to the same month in 2012.”
Among the Top 4 LCD TV brands in the United States, 50-inch and larger LCD TVs accounted for 30 percent of total shipments in January, up from 19 percent during the same month in 2012. Meanwhile, 60-inch and larger sets made up 12 percent, up from 3 percent one year earlier, as presented in the table below.
The Top 4 LCD TV brands in the U.S. in January in alphabetical order were LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio, together accounting for more than 50 percent of shipments in the country.
The 60-inch offense
Japanese brand Sharp initiated the 60-inch LCD TV market in 2010, nearly monopolizing sales with its low-priced sets. However, as other brands also introduced similar-sized models during the intervening years, price competition started and the market began to expand.
By Black Friday in November 2012, the price war reached a crescendo, with Vizio and Best Buy jointly promoting a 60-inch LCD TV priced at $699—$300 off the original price. Pricing for the Vizio set then climbed to $899 during the Super Bowl promotion, but even at that rate it was still $100 less than the initial starting price.
The same-sized model from Sharp was priced at $899 for the Super Bowl, also $100 off its original price. For its part, Samsung offered a high-end 60-inch set at $1,699, which represented a $1,100 discount.
Promotional pricing of 60-inch sets for lesser-known, second-tier brands was even lower.
The market share of super-large-sized televisions is bound to grow. Such sets are likely to become even more popular in March when television vendors launch new 2013 models in time for another major sporting event: the NCAA basketball’s March madness.
LED shines—while plasma bleeds
Also in January, LCD TVs featuring light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting technology exceeded 75 percent penetration in the U.S. market. That rate is likely to reach 100 percent this year.
While large LCD and LED-backlit TVs are on the rise, sales of plasma sets plunged during the pre-Super Bowl period. Plasma sales are facing a tough pricing battle with LCD TVs in the large-sized segment. For 60-inch LCD TVs, pricing for second-tier brands was actually cheaper than for first-tier brands’ price for the 60-inch plasma models.