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Forecast Become Gloomier for Korean 8K TVs
Due to Market Slump and Korea-Japan Tug
Forecast Become Gloomier for Korean 8K TVs
  • By Michael Herh
  • July 15, 2019, 09:36
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An LG OLED TV is on display at Akihabara Electronics Shopping Mall in in Tokyo, Japan.
An LG OLED TV is on display at Akihabara Electronics Shopping Mall in in Tokyo, Japan.

A forecast on the 8K TV market led by Korean TV makers such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics has been lowered for the third time this year. The 8K TV sales forecast for this year were less than half of last year’s and dropped by one-quarter from a year ago.

In the meantime, the ongoing economic conflict between Korea and Japan triggered by a court ruling for compensations for Koreans who suffered from forced labor by the Japanese government during the Japanese occupation of Korea is likely to give a setback to Korean companies' 8K TV promotion strategies.

Worldwide 8K TV sales would total 215,000 this year, market research firm IHS Markit forecast on July 14. The figure is a drop of 30.4 percent from an estimated 309,000 units in April of last year and about half of the October 2018 forecast of 430,000 units. The figure fell 72.4 percent from a year ago. As has been pointed out, despite 8K TVs’ outstanding quality, there are not many contents yet, so 8K TVs still have a long way to go in its popularization.

However, the 8K TV market is expected to grow rapidly beginning next year. Next year, 8K TV sales is projected to hit 853,900 units which are more than four times more than this year’s. The figure will be 1,794,000 in 2021, 2,832,000 in 2022, and 3,739,900 in 2023. The proportion of 8K TVs in the total TV market is expected to grow to 1.62 percent in 2023, even though they are expected to accounts for 0.09 percent this year.

In particular, the Tokyo Olympic Games is expected to play a big role in boosting the growth of the 8K TV market a great deal. This is because the Japanese government is quite active about promoting 8K TV contents. At the end of last year, NHK TV of Japan launched an 8K TV test broadcast for the first time in the world. In addition, the Tokyo Olympic Games will be broadcast live in 8K picture quality next year.

Japan came in second with 6.2 percent, followed by Western Europe (6.8 percent) according to IHS Markit's data on 8K TV regional shipments in the fourth quarter of last year. Japanese TV maker Sony is also preparing for a sharp rise in demand for 8K TVs before the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games such as launching 8K TV models this year. Sharp and Panasonic which developed the world's first 8K liquid crystal display (LCD) TV, are also expected to be active about penetrating the 8K TV market.

The same goes for foreign TV manufacturers. Chinese companies such as HiSense which had a market share of 10% as the only foreign TV maker in Japan last year will launch 8K TV models in the second half of the year.

LG Electronics is currently stepping up marketing for organic light emitting diode (OLED) TVs in Japan. In fact, last year, LG Electronics' OLED TV sales in Japan reached US$69.89 million, more than five times since its OLED TV launch in Japan in 2016. LG Electronics plans to accelerate its penetration of the Japanese TV market with the Tokyo Olympic Games as strong momentum. In particular, LG will launch its 8K OLED TV model in Japan in October at the earliest. Samsung Electronics does not sell TVs in Japan.

As the Tokyo Olympic Games is a major global sports event, if 8K contents are produced in earnest, it will help vitalize the 8K TV market, many TV industry experts say. Some experts forecast that Samsung Electronics will reenter the Japanese TV market in 10 years after withdrawing from it in 2007. “We may consider it but nothing has been decided," a Samsung Electronics official said. "But I hope so as a big sports event has a big impact on TV sales."

Some TV industry experts say that a recently strained relationship between Korea and Japan will damp Korean TV makers’ passion to penetrate the Japanese TV market. This is because the Japanese government began to put restrictions on the export of semiconductor and display materials to Korea in the beginning of July and the economic conflict between the two countries is spiraling out of control. Sony, JTI and Nissan among others are carefully monitoring market situations while canceling scheduled events for product launches in Korea. If the current situation continues for a long time, it will be a burden for Korean TV makers trying to expand their presences in the Japanese TV market.