Samsung Electronics has managed to form a global 8K TV group but its efforts to revitalize the 8K TV market faces one hurdle after another. This is because Korean TV broadcasters are still producing 1K high-definition content due to cost burdens and have barely started to move over to the 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) TV era.
"Korean terrestrial broadcasters began the era of 4K UHD TV broadcasting in 2017 but most of their content is still being produced in the HD format," said an official of an electronics company. He forecast that it would take much time to secure content for the 8K TV market. Actually, the Korean government set the minimum proportion for terrestrial broadcasters’ UHD TV programs at 5 percent in 2017, but the actual percentage is believed to be lower than that.
Overseas content companies are facing similar situations. “8K TVs are in the market now, but it is stupid to buy them now," said the Verge, a U.S. media outlet specializing in the IT. "Major content providers such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have no plan to produce 8K videos for the time being."
"Even Netflix, the most influential content producer, is currently having hard time producing 4K content, still less 8K content," said an official of a consumer electronics company. “The creation of 8K content requires changes in everything from shooting to editing equipment, that is to say, massive investment. So, It is hard to make a quick switch to 8K content."
Considering these situations, market researchers are also lowering 8K TV sales in their forecasts. In December 2018, IHS Markit predicted that worldwide sales of 8K TVs would reach 338,000 in 2019. This was a 21.4-percent drop from the October 2018 forecast of 430,000 units and is about one third of the April 2018 forecast of 905,000 units. IHS Markit also dragged down its forecast for next year to 1,751,000 units from 1,891,000 units and its 2021 forecast to 3,725,000 units from 4,072,000.
Against this backdrop, analysts are questioning whether the 8K TV group led by Samsung Electronics will be able to make a meaningful change. This is because companies in the 8K TV group are mainly manufacturers. They include four TV makers -- Samsung Electronics, Panasonic, TCL and Hisense -- and Taiwanese panel maker AUO. LG Electronics, a rival of Samsung Electronics, is still mulling over whether or not to participate in the group.
Despite skepticism about 8K TVs, Samsung Electronics is stepping up its offensive in the 8K TV market because it is betting on 8K and micro light emitting diodes (LEDs) for its TV business. In fact, Samsung Electronics unveiled the world’s second 8K TV model after Sharp in IFA in Germany in September last year, and started selling it in October. It has been putting a lot of efforts in the 8K TV. It has built the most extensive 8K TV lineup including a sleek 90-inch model presented at CES 2019.
In the meantime, LG Electronics is still focusing on 4K TVs and expected to launch its 8K TV model in the first half of this year at the earliest. "While Samsung Electronics is making a strong push for 8K TVs, LG Electronics is carefully approaching the 8K TV, considering that the market for the new TVs has not yet begun in earnest," said an official of the electronics industry.