4K Ultra HD TV Panel Shipments Reach 1 Million Benchmark

Mike Wheatley

4K Ultra HD TV shipments reached a new milestone, surpassing the one million unit mark last March for the first time, according to a new report from analyst firm IHS. That’s a huge increase on the 380,000 4K TVs shipped during February 2014, and far more than the 150,000 shipped in March 2013, underlining the growing emphasis being placed on the niche by manufacturers like Sony, Samsung and LG Electronics.

TV panel shipment

These brands have been keen to tout the advantages of ultra high-definition (UHD) TV for some time now. 4K Ultra HD televisions boast four times the pixel resolution of standard HD TVs. The only problem, besides the cost, has been the scarcity of native 4K content, which is often cited as a major obstacle in the way of widespread adoption of the technology.

However we’re finally starting to see some 4K material emerge. For example, Netflix is now streaming the second season of its House of Cards series in 4K. Meanwhile brands like Sony have been pushing their own 4K content in the USA, and these efforts seem to be encouraging more people to buy.

Meanwhile, IHS cites pre-orders for China’s Labour Day holiday in May as one of the main reasons for 4K Ultra HD shipment growth – China remains the biggest market for 4K by some distance – because consumers often shop more in the buildup to major holidays. In addition, IHS says that the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil may have helped to trigger 4K TV sales.

Another factor is that South Korean firms Samsung and LG have both increased production of lower-cost 4KTV sets, says IHS. However, it could be argued that these ‘cheaper’ 4K TVs aren’t really 4K at all – IHS notes that they’re built with so-called ‘green’ display panels which use a different pixel pattern and fewer display driver circuits, which means they only provide around three quarters of 4K resolution.

Nevertheless, they are counted as 4K TVs are far as shipments go, and that’s helped it to top the one million mark for the first time.

“With the technology becoming more pervasive, coupled with increasingly aggressive marketing from panel manufacturers, UHDTV panels are starting to take off,” notes Linda Lin, senior analyst for large displays at IHS.

By the end of the year, IHS says 4K Ultra HD shipments should top some 15.2 million units, which would give them 6 percent of the world’s total LCD television market. Surprisingly quite a few of these will fall into the “massive” category, with 27 percent of all shipments expected to be 60-inch+ displays.