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TV sales take a hit in 2013, but the slump won’t last long

On the verge of the 4K TV revolution, the US TV market seems to be in a bit of a slump. Detailed in a recent report issued by IHS technology, TV sales were down in 2013 for the second year in a row, after rising by huge margins from 2009-2011.

Following what IHS analyst Veronica Gonzalez-Thayer called “the flat panel TV craze,” TV sales fell from 38 million to 37 million in 2012, and that number plummeted to just below 34 million in 2013, marking the first time sales had fallen that low for five years. The drop accounted for an overall 12 percent decline in revenue for the TV industry as a whole for 2013, despite a considerable rally during the holiday season. 

Not surprisingly, one of the major factors contributing to the lower numbers in the last two years has been the slow death of the plasma TV which, along with LCD TVs, accounted for virtually all TVs sold in the U.S. in recent years. According to the report, plasma sales fell a whopping 42 percent last year, to only 2.1 million. As companies like Panasonic, one of the last pioneers of plasma, shutter their plasma divisions for good, IHS predicts a total extinction of plasma by 2015. The current king of HD technology, LCD, retained its sales numbers much better, but still fell 6 percent last year to 31.9 million units.

Other factors for the decline include what Gonzalez-Thayer described simply as “market maturity,” and remaining uncertainties in the economy. Consumers have been reluctant in recent years to replace their aging flat panels with the sparkling new models, due in no small part to the sluggish economic recovery.

However, it’s not all bad news for the industry. IHS predicts sales will cease their decline in 2014, remaining flat, or even adding slight growth. This year will also see a shipment of a wider variety of OLED TVs for consumers in the U.S., with around 8,000 TVs shipping in 2014 — a meager start, but a start none the less for what many predict will be the savior that steps in for plasma as the videophile’s choice.

LCD TVs are also predicted to rise next year, according to the report. And as prices continue to decline for 4K TVs, along with a host of new plans from top industry players like Sony, Samsung, LG, and Netflix to expand content for the hot technology, you can be sure the TV industry will recover from its flat panel sophomore slump in short order. As for consumers, a drop in TV sales might translate to a result we’ll all have no problem with whatsoever: lower prices. 

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