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June 13, 2023

Strong Growth for 8K TV Forecast at Display Week Business Conference

At the recent Display Week conference in Los Angeles, activities included a Business Conference that was organized by Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC). There was a full day of in-person presentations and the same again in virtual sessions (including one from our own Mike Fidler). 8K TV was one of the topics that was touched on during the event.

Panel makers have now reduced their factory utilization, which has tightened supply and inventory has been cleared, so there has been some recovery in panel prices, but they remain low and at unprofitable levels. However, TV demand is globally still quite weak, so recovery will still take some time. The situation is not helped by weak demand from other panel markets including notebooks, tablets and monitors, which all enjoyed a boost from working from home and are now seeing reduced demand as consumers spend on other things.

The TV industry is a key consumer of panels from the display industry, taking 70% of the panel area produced. That means that the economics of the whole industry is impacted by developments in the TV business. The last few years have seen extreme conditions in the TV panel market, with high demand and limited supply meaning record high demand, pricing and profits during the pandemic. Consumers were investing in new TVs (and notebooks and monitors), but after the pandemic, the demand dropped right back. At the same time, panel makers boosted supply, after seeing the high prices, so the market moved to over-supply, and panel prices fell dramatically from 2021 to 2022.

TV panel prices (not TV sets) have gone up and down very dramatically in recent years from a high in 2021 to a low in 2022. Source: DSCC

Advanced TV Matters to Big Brands

The interesting part of the TV market for the big brands (Samsung, LG, TCL, Sony and, in the US, Vizio) is what DSCC calls the ‘Advanced TV’ market. The vast majority of the market globally (>80%) is at a price point of <$500 while more than 90% is less than $1,000. Sets at higher prices, though, contribute significantly to brand profiles and to company profits. DSCC defines Advanced TV as having miniLED backlights, Quantum Dots (QDs) for better color, using an OLED or having 8K resolution.

The vast majority of TV sets sold around the world are sold at less than $1,000. Quantities are in ‘000s. Source:DSCC

There was some debate at the Business Conference about whether specifying QDs as a parameter was reasonable, or whether wide color gamut (WCG) displays using, for example, special phosphors should also be included. That is likely to be a continuing debate as QD suppliers such as Nanosys try to move the technology further into the mainstream market.

Samsung is Top Dog

Samsung is #1 in both the overall market and in the Advanced TV market. Although the firm’s panel division has developed the very technically impressive QD-OLED panels, which are only available in UltraHD/4K, LG leads overall in OLED TV sales. Samsung, though, continues to want to sell LCDs with miniLED backlights as this technology brings more added value to its TV set business. The TV business buys just the LCD ‘cell’ from panel suppliers and adds its own backlight, light management and control technology. 8K is part of the mix that makes up Samsung’s highly regarded QLED TVs.

8K Forecast is Positive

Bob O’Brien of DSCC presented the firm’s forecast for 8K TVs and he sees good growth coming with not far off a tripling of volumes from 2022 to the end of the forecast in 2027. That’s really a good result when, overall, DSCC does not expect to see any significant growth in TV volumes over the next few years . TV market volume in 2027 will be below the pre-pandemic level, still. Display area will grow as buyers continue to choos bigger sets, and that is a factor helping 8K – the bigger the display, the more benefit from an UltraHD/4K to 8K boost.

8K TV Volumes are forecast to grow strongly after weak growth in 2021/22. Source:DSCC

Revenues will not grow quite as strongly as volumes because most of the 8K TVs will use LCDs with miniLED backlights and the cost of these is expected to continue to decline. Despite this drop in pricing, 8K value is expected to double from 2023 to 2027 to over $2 billion.

Revenue growth will still be very positive in a weak market in terms of demand. Source:DSCC

8K OLED is expected to remain a real niche with just some very high priced products. We looked at the reasons that 8K OLEDs are so hard to make last year. DSCC has a lot of experience of calculating costs and presented an interesting comparison of costs for different ‘Advanced TV’ technologies. The chart shows that although an 8K 120Hz miniLED panel is quite expensive to make at the moment. However the manufacturing cost is still less than one of Samsung’s 4K QD-OLED panels.

8K panels without miniLED backlights are cheaper than 4K miniLED panels. 4K QD-OLED is the most expensive panel type. Source:DSCC

Overall, the positive forecast for 8K volumes and values was one of the relatively few bright spots in the Display Week Business Conference.

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