The 4K UHD TV Trend Line Is Spiking Up

– And the Implications for Bandwidth Are Great

by Charles Hall, Senior Analyst

 

“What’s so important about the speeds of broadband and home networking?” you might ask.

Here are some dots that are connectable into a trend line.

1. The Online Reporter predicts that by Black Friday of next year (2016) the only TVs 40-inches and above in stores will be UHD sets — unless there are leftover inventories.

2. Once buyers get the new sets home, they’re sure to look for 4K content to maximize their new UHD set.

3. Netflix, which is in the process of becoming larger in numbers of subscribers than any TV network, is also the largest source of 4K content, followed by Amazon. That’s where buyers of UHD sets will seek 4K content, and having found it, they’ll start streaming it over their broadband service and home network gear.

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US supermarket shoppers: must now steer cart past entrance-stacked UHD TV sets

 

Just imagine! By January 2017, 19 months from now, upwards of 60 million or more UHD sets could be streaming 4K content.

That’s a lot of bandwidth that’ll be needed.

The proof is very visible.

 

36m UHD TVs to Ship This Year


Makers of the display panels that are used in TV sets are switching their production to 4K-capable panels. Digitimes reports that Sigmaintell Consulting said that in May, the number of 4K panels shipped worldwide reached 3 million, a 13.4% penetration. If that trend flatlines, which it won’t, 36 million 4K panels will be shipped this year.

It predicts that the percentage will increase to 14.4% in June to bring about an overall 13.5% penetration or the second quarter of 2015. It also expects a total of 66.77 million panels will be shipped in the second quarter, which if it flatlines is about 270 million total panels. If 13.5% of them are 4K capable, 36 million 4K sets will be shipped worldwide in 2015, give or take a couple of million. The big season for selling TV sets has always been the fourth quarter with its holiday shopping binges.

 

Retailers Shift to UHD Sets

Major retailers are shifting their emphasis to selling 4K-capable UHD sets.

Holiday shoppers that walked into Walmart’s Sam’s Club stores this week saw at the entrance three displays of UHD sets being sold at remarkable prices. 1080p HD sets had been pushed to the back of the aisles in the TV sets section and were being sold primarily in the $500 to $600 price range.

Remember what their prices were just a year ago!

The first display had a stunningly beautiful picture on a 55-inch curved Samsung TV, the UN55JU670DFXZA, for only $ 1,278.

The second display held only Samsung’s flat panel UHD sets:

Samsung 40-inch UN40JU650DAFXZA $678
Samsung 50-inch UN50JU650DFXZA $928
Samsung 55-inch UN55HU6840 $948

Just think —  only 12 months ago a buyer could get last year’s model of a Samsung 55-inch UHD set for $1,995!

The same set  would cost $1,495 by February 2015.

Now the 55-inch Samsung UHD set is only $948.

 

The third display was all Vizio’s and showed stunningly beautiful pictures on stunningly priced UHD TVs:

Vizio 43-inch M43-C1 $678
Vizio 49-inch M49-C1 $748
Vizio 50-inch M50-C1 $798
Vizio 55-inch M55-C1 $898

 

Sam’s Club’s mother ship Walmart is selling Seiki’s 50-inch UHD set for only $599.99.

It’s notable that LG UHD TVs were not shown on any of the special displays at the Sam’s Club store’s entrance but were on the “back shelves” along with other brands of UHD TVs. The three displays don’t confirm any conclusions but they do raise questions:

– Are LG’s UHD sets not as good as Samsung’s and Vizio’s? That is the impression we got when we tested LG’s UHD sets last year, especially their ability to upconvert lesser resolutions to near 4K quality.

– Vizio says it has sold the most UHD TVs in the States so does that mean it’s a two-horse race — Vizio and Samsung? That does not seem likely but the UHD TV business is a whole new market and consequently a very cut-throat, low margin business in which anything is possible — like a Chinese setmaker to show up in a big way at the 4K dance.

 

Purchasers of UHD TVs Will Look to Netflix for 4K Content

Netflix is already the world’s largest source of 4K content. As a source for video entertainment, its audience will within a year be larger than the national US TV networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox within a year — all of which have local stations broadcasting their programs in every corner of the States, well nearly. That’s according to FBR Capital Markets, which used Nielsen ratings to compare the audiences of the major US TV networks and Netflix.

The Nielsen ratings, to their detriment, don’t count viewers who watch shows from the TV networks on DVRs, which many people use, or on the TV networks’ online services.

The point, as it relates to 4K, is that buyers of UHD TVs will be familiar with the fact that Netflix is a major source of video entertainment and so a likely source for 4K content. It seems certain from various articles we have reported that it may take years, perhaps even a decade before cablecos and telcos will offer large quantities of 4K content…

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About the Author

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The Online Reporter is the weekly subscription-based strategy bulletin about the enabling technologies of broadband, Wi-Fi, HDR, home networks, UHD 4K TV & OTT services; identifying trends in the Digital Media space. Only a fraction of our material here is published here. To see 4 free copies, follow the links above or go to www.onlinereporter.com/trial-subscription/

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