WitsView, a division of TrendForce, reports that the global shipments of branded TV sets for the third quarter of 2017 totaled 54.99 million units, showing an increase of 16% from the second quarter and a year-on-year decline of 4.0%. The third quarter is traditionally a busy period for TV shipments. Furthermore, the recent drop in panel prices is gradually taking away the cost pressure on TV brands, bolstering their confidence in expanding their shipments. WitsView expects the TV market to remain positive through the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the strong results in the second half of this year are unlikely going to offset three consecutive quarters of year-on-year declines. WitsView therefore has lowered its estimate of this year’s annual global shipments to 210 million units, down 4.2% from the previous year.
Samsung’s annual shipments to drop by 9% as the brand chooses to maximize profit instead of growing shipments
Samsung has been facing stiff competition in the high-end OLED segment of the TV market. Nevertheless, Samsung’s third-quarter TV shipments rose 10.6% from the second quarter on account of its ability to negotiate down panel prices and make adjustments to the end market prices. Going forward, Samsung’s TV business will become more profit-oriented with product development focusing on high-resolution and large-size TV sets for the mid-range and high-end market segments. WitsView’s latest estimate puts Samsung’s 2017 shipments around 43.5 million units, which is noticeably lower than its 2016 total of nearly 48 million.
Currently, the brands that represent the OLED TV market are LG Electronics (LGE) and SONY. Because of the successes enjoyed by their OLED offerings in the high-end market, both brands have kept expanding their shipments on a quarterly basis this year. WitsView also expects that LGE and SONY will either keep their annual shipments at the same levels as last year’s or post slight growths.
Shipments in China returned to normal in third quarter due to downward correction of panel prices
China’s TV market experienced a demand freeze during the first half of 2017 because the high costs of panels affected TV shipments. However, the TV market has slowly recovered in the year’s second half as panel prices saw a downward correction. TCL kept its third-place position in the quarterly shipment ranking as the brand benefitted from the recovery of its domestic market and gained from opening up sales channels in North America. Hisense retook fourth place as the brand saw returning domestic and overseas orders.
All other Chinese TV brands also posted sequential quarterly increases in their third-quarter shipments and are optimistic that the gradual slide in panel prices will drive growth in the fourth quarter as well. They look forward to the possibility that their second-half results will compensate for not reaching their respective shipment targets for the first half.
Sharp has lost momentum since third quarter and will need to keep expanding its presence in China to regain shipment growth
Sharp’s TV shipments took a tumble in the third quarter after enjoying rapid growth during this year’s first half. Its ranking also fell from fourth place for the second quarter to eighth place for the third quarter. Sharp’s parent company Foxconn recently has made headlines with its plan to set up a panel factory in the U.S., sparking a renewed interest in “Made in America.” Furthermore, the company has adopted a more aggressive strategy to expand its presence in both the upstream and downstream ecosystems of the supply chain. Nonetheless, all these efforts have not led to an immediate increase in TV shipments.
Sharp’s focus for the second half of 2017 is still going to be on increasing sales in China. Because of the decline in panel prices, Sharp’s advantages related to in-house panels and vertical integration are not going to be as significant as before. Anticipating fiercer price competition in the future, Foxconn will employ a strategy that use various brands to target specific market segments and open up new sales channels. Sharp will continue to work on the mid-range and high-end segments. Meanwhile, Foxconn’s partner brand InFocus will be providing TVs to the low-end consumer segment, the contract tender market, and the market for telecom service bundles.
From the view of the entire TV market, shipments fell considerably in this year’s first half as the rising panel prices constrained the demand for large-size TV sets and Samsung shifted its priority to maintaining a healthy profit. In the second half, shipments in China have bounced back to the usual level. However, this recovery is unlikely to be enough to offset the three consecutive quarters of year-on-year declines.
WitsView thus has revised its estimate of global TV shipments for 2017. Originally, the annual total was projected to reach 214 million units. The latest revised figure is 210 million units, representing a decline of 4.2% compared with the 2016 total.