Thanks to the stay-at-home economy brought about the by the COVID-19 pandemic, TV shipment in North America saw the start of an upturn in late March last year, while demand in the European market also gradually ramped up in 2H20, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. On the whole, global TV shipment rebounded from rock-bottom levels in April and peaked in October 2020. Nonetheless, recent shortages in IC products from upstream semiconductor suppliers led TV brands to push back their 4Q20 shipment schedules, resulting in a global TV shipment of 217 million units in 2020, a 0.3% YoY decline.
Looking ahead to 2021, TrendForce is not ruling out the possibility that the Tokyo Olympic Games and the UEFA European Championship, which were originally planned for 2020 but subsequently delayed due to the pandemic, will take place this year instead, despite the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. These sporting events are expected to drive global TV demand to yet another record high. In this light, TrendForce expects global TV shipment to reach 223 million units in 2021, a 2.8% YoY increase.
Survival of tier two and tier three TV brands will be challenged in light of IC shortage and surging TV panel prices
Whereas the supply of TV panels dwindled in 2020 owing to the reduction in Korean panel manufacturers’ production capacities and the slowdown in new Chinese panel manufacturers’ mass production ramp-up, demand skyrocketed thanks to extended stay-at-home times induced by anti-pandemic measures. Given such imbalanced supply and demand, prices of 40-inch to 55-inch TV panels rose by more than 60% within a mere six months, while prices of 32-inch panels more than doubled, in turn posing a great challenge for white-label TV manufacturers, which had traditionally survived in the market by offering low-priced TVs.
TrendForce further indicates that the tightening supply of TV panels throughout 2020 and faster-than-expected demand recovery in 2H20 both indirectly exacerbated the existing shortage of wafer capacities for IC products. Therefore, upstream suppliers, including foundries and panel makers, have become increasingly selective of their clients, and tier one TV brands have an advantage in securing wafer capacities from foundries due to their massive order volume. Case in point, year 2020 marked the first time when the combined market shares of the top five TV brands surpassed 60%. For tier two, tier three, and white-label manufacturers, the strained supply of panels and IC products will make it harder than ever for them to compete against tier one brands in the market.
Shipment of 65-inch (and above) TVs will likely reach 30% YoY growth in 2021
As the prices of TV panels underwent MoM increases every month throughout 2H20, the profitability of 32-inch to 55-inch TV units, which were the market mainstream, gradually plummeted as well. In response to declining profits from these low-priced products, TV brands began to redirect their procurement activities towards larger-sized panels. In particular, this period saw a 23.4% and 47.8% growth in 65-inch (and above) and 70-inch (and above) TV panel shipments, respectively. Under the assumption that panel prices will not undergo a substantial decline in 2021, TV brands will likely accelerate their product strategies for ultra-large-sized TVs. Therefore, TrendForce forecasts a potential 30% YoY growth in the shipment of 65-inch (and above) TVs this year.