With the domestic market approaching saturation, branded Chinese LCD TV vendors see overseas expansion as the only means to grow their market shares and raise their brand recognition. The latest example of this approach is the acquisition of the U.S.-based consumer electronics maker VIZIO by LeEco, a rising Internet brand in the Chinese LCD TV market. Reports of VIZIO being up for sale gained traction after Foxconn’s acquisition of Sharp, and the $2 billion deal with LeEco was finally announced on July 27.
Following the acquisition, the combined shipments of LCD TV sets from LeEco and VIZIO will reach 14.57 million units this year, according to WitsView, a division of TrendForce. In the annual global shipment ranking, LeEco will become one of the top five vendors and surpass compatriot brands Hisense and TCL to take the third spot. On the whole, this deal has significantly altered the competitive landscape of the global LCD TV market.
In addition to being known for offering LCD TVs with high cost-performance ratios, LeEco has further differentiated itself from competitors by selling subscriptions to its Internet TV channels. As most of its revenue comes from streaming video subscribers, LeEco intends to use the VIZIO brand to enter the North American market and replicate its business model there. However, LeEco will have more difficulty in getting subscribers in North America than in China due to competition from the region’s major video streaming platforms such as Netflix. Nonetheless, LeEco can still succeed in North America by selling TVs at extremely low prices. By driving up its sales volume dramatically, the Chinese brand would make a significant impact on the ecosystem of the local LCD TV industry and the consumer perception. At the same time, LeEco could also squeeze the market shares of other first-tier brands in North America.
The consolidation of LeEco and VIZIO will also pose a huge challenge for South Korean TV brands. Taking account of the acquisition, WitsView’s latest analysis projects that the combined shipments of Chinese brands will reach 74.1 million units this year, whereas the combined shipments of South Korean brands will arrive at 77 million units. Together, Chinese and South Korean vendors are expected to account for 70% of the global LCD TV market. In the future, major international brands will continue to enlarge their market shares at the expense of regional brands and vendors of niche TV sets.
After incorporating VIZIO, LeEco will be the only LCD TV brand without in-house manufacturing capability among the global top five and will still rely on Taiwanese and Chinese OEMs. The majority of TV sets shipped by LeEco in China so far this year are large-size models (measuring 50 inches and above), while 30% of VIZIO’s shipments in North America in the same period also belong to the same size segment. WitsView anticipates that LeEco will strengthen its partnership with Foxconn, which has the world’s largest Gen-10 panel fab and controls nearly 20% of the global capacity for large-size panels. With Foxconn’s support, LeEco can focus on large-size and super large-size TVs (models sized 70 inches and above).
Also, both LeEco and VIZIO have worked with Taiwan-based OEM TPV Technology, and this relationship is expected to remain tight following the acquisition. LeEco has a partnership with Chinese TV vendor TCL, and the market is looking at whether TCL can leverage the situation to improve its sales to North America. Another ensuing issue from the acquisition is whether Taiwanese OEMs Wistron and AmTRAN can enter LeEco’s supply chain. These follow-up developments will exert influences on orders going to OEMs worldwide.