34% of US Homes Will Have 4K Set by 2019

– 32% in the UK & 31% in Switzerland
– Most 50+ Inch TVs Will Be 4K by 2017

The percentage of US households that will have at least one 4K TV set will be 34% in 2019, according to the IHS’ TV Sets Intelligence Service.

The 34% represents about 34 million homes.


Netflix couple

1 in 3 TV sets will be UHD 4K by 2019, according to survey


Assuming that some homes will have two or more 4K sets, the total number of 4K sets sold by then will be upwards of 50 million.

OTT services will probably still be the major source of 4K content, together with satcos, so most 4K content that’s watched will be streamed over broadband to the home and over the home’s network within the home.

Assuming a mere three 4K streams per week, it can be seen that the demand for bandwidth within and to the home will sharply increase.

In addition there will be millions of 4K capable smartphones and tablets in use by then, both downloading and uploading 4K content – think what an impact a 4K-capable Meerkat and Periscope will have once users start doing 4K live streams.


The Online Reporter Predicted 4K’s Success 18 Months Ago

In early summer 2014, The Online Reporter was the first publication to predict that 4K TVs would become the dominant sets sold within a year.

Most industry watchers scoffed at the idea that 4K sets would soon become the most popular.

Among other things they said was that 4K sets cost too much, the viewer would have to sit closer to the TV, consumers’ broadband didn’t have enough bandwidth, the 4K standard was not completed, there was no 4K content and the specifications of other major technologies such as HDR had only begun to be developed.

Oddly, one of the barriers they did not list has become our biggest concern: do consumers have enough bandwidth within the home?

Wi-Fi networks are increasingly overloaded by a plethora of smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and other devices that suck up all the available bandwidth.

One cynic, an executive at a major pay TV service, wrote us this month that 4K sets would not be prevalent for another five to seven years.

Despite cynics pooh-poohing our predictions, all of which proved to be false, we persisted in continuing to report weekly on the rise of 4K.

Our 2014 prediction was based on three observations.

We used the 55-inch models as the new hot spot rather than the 42-inch model that had been the most popular during the 1080p HD era because viewers can sit closer to larger UHD sets than to a similarly sized 1080p set.

– In summer 2014 the prices for 4K sets dropped for the first time below $2,000, making them what we called mass market products.

Today, 18 months later, those same sets or their replacements, sell for less than half that.

The 2015 model of the Samsung 55-inch 4K set that we purchased for $1,995 in June 2014 now sells for half that price – $997 at Amazon – and presumably has some new and improved features.

– The displays in retail stores were becoming “all-4K, all-the-time,” signaling that set makers were urging retailers to switch to pushing 4K. Often set makers pay and/or incentivize retailers to do that such as in the case of Sony, Samsung and LG paying Best Buy for “showroom” space for their products within its stores.

– It soon became obvious that set makers did not intend to launch many new 1080p HD TVs that were 42-inches and larger. That has certainly come to pass and will be proven by the makers’ announcement at CES next month. The only exception might be those set makers that decide to launch HDR versions of their 1080p sets. It’s possible but not likely because the near term future – the next two to five years – appears to be 4K, followed by 8K sets in five to seven years.


IHS Sees an All-4K World

The IHS survey showed what we predicted 18 months ago and have since reported weekly: 4K TV set prices have fallen significantly, which has led to increasing consumer adoption and increased household penetration.

All the cynics’ reasons for not buying 4K TVs have been disregarded by most consumers buying new TV sets.

By the end of 2017, IHS said most 50-inch and larger TVs worldwide (not just the US) will have 4K resolution. It acknowledges that the US leads the way and expects the EU countries to have a significant 4K penetration of 25% by 2019:

US 34%
Switzerland 32%
UK 31%


The increasing availability of 4K HD content from OTT and pay TV services will support the 4K trend, said IHS.

The Online Reporter, however, does not think wireline pay TV services will be major suppliers of 4K content by 2017 because of the costs and difficulties of upgrading their networks.

So far, 4K has been an exclusive of OTT services but DirecTV and other satcos have started making noise about offering 4K TV.

Surprisingly Japan, a sophisticated market for TVs, is expected to have only 14% of all households with 4K sets by 2019, according to IHS, which said most homes there have relatively new TVs.The cause of that was government intervention. Several years ago the Japanese government wanted to replace analog TV with more energy-efficient digital models so it subsidized their purchases. As a result, the demand for TVs doubled to twice normal levels between 2009 and 2011 – perhaps delaying Japanese consumers of the joys of 4K. That is ironic because Japan is one of the major pushers of the 4K standard and at one point made more TV sets than any other country.

Hisakazu Torii, senior director of consumer device research for IHS, said, “With the Japanese consumer preference for smaller TV screens, it will be more difficult for 4K TV to expand its household penetration in the country, even though UHD broadcasts are set to begin in 2018, in the run up to the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.”

Torii is another example of an analyst not being aware that 4K TVs can and should be bought in larger sizes than the 1080p they are replacing – assuming there is room in the budget and on the wall. 42-inch sizes were the most popular models of 1080p HD sets but 55-inch sets are the most popular models of 4K sets. It’s a different story if the average Japanese residence does not have a wall large enough to hang a 55-inch set.

Ericsson’s Matthew Goldman, who is focused on compression systems standards, products and solutions and is a participant in the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), says that because the human visual system can take in only a fixed amount of image resolution, so the distance the viewer sits from a display may impact the amount of picture resolution that the viewer truly sees.

For example, if a 1080p HD set is replaced with a 4K TV of the same size, the viewer will need to decrease his/her viewing distance by about half. At the same viewing distance and screen size, the viewer only will take in HD resolution from the 4K TV.

The alternative is to double the screen size to fully take in the 4K picture resolution at the same distance as the 1080p HD set it replaced.

China is a different story even though Chinese residences are likely to be smaller than Japanese residences. IHS expects China to have a 4K penetration rate of 24% in 2019.

It said that other emerging countries where smaller TVs are popular will also have lower penetration rates:

Japan 14%
China 24%
Russia 11%
Brazil 8%
India 2%


Sales by manufacturers show that as of the middle of 2015 Samsung was the leader in the sales of 4K TV in the States during the prior 12 months:

Samsung 28%
LG 17%
Sony 13%
Vizio 11%


If accurate, and there is no reason to believe it is not, the numbers have several implications:
– A blow to Vizio, which has been proclaiming it’s the number one seller of 4K TVs in the States but being ranked lower than the fading Sony is not good.
– An acknowledgement that Samsung has superior technology for the upconversion of 1080p and lesser resolutions to near 4K.
– Sony is using its self-acclaimed “superior” 4K sets…

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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/