Once again, it's not shaping up to be a great year for television makers, says market researcher NPD DisplaySearch, but not all is gloomy. While the overall television market will be cooling slightly for 2012, growth is still expected in key areas such as LED-backlit sets, 3D televisions, and displays larger than 50 inches.
LCD is tops in TV tech
While competing technologies such as plasma TVs are hanging on, LCD TV is now the reigning champion, making up around 88 percent of the total TV market world-wide for 2012. It's also the only TV technology showing growth of any kind, albeit growth that's slowing as sales pressure generated by the switch to digital broadcasting has receded in most regions of the world.
Some types of LCD TVs are doing better than others. After 3D's slow introduction to North America, the segment is expecting growth of 74 percent over last year -- not as much as once forecast, but still impressive for a technology in its third year, NPD DisplaySearch says. Less expensive 3D TVs and supporting hardware - such as glasses - are helping to spur sales. One of the big drags on 3D adoption has been a lack of content, but the increased number of 3D sets in homes could encourage content makers to produce more 3D titles and service providers to queue up more 3D-friendly programming, in turn helping the technology to gain an even firmer foothold in future years.
Bigger televisions are also becoming more popular, with sets larger than 50 inches conquering an expected 7.1 percent of total sales in 2012 and 10 percent by 2015. The average screen size sold in North America is expected to be larger than 40 inches by next year.
But, the real winner is LED-backlit LCD sets, poised to take a majority of the market for the first time - a whopping 69 percent of total global sales. Dropping prices are a big reason why as the cost premium between budget-priced LED TVs and LCD TVs with standard CCFL (cold-cathode fluorescent lamp) backlights has nearly evaporated. NPD DisplaySearch's projections show that it expects CCFL-backlit LCD TVs to all but disappear from the scene by 2015.