4K Televisions Reach Their Stride

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A version of this article was originally posted on 2/2/2018. You can read the original piece here.

Just before lockdowns and stay-at-home orders became the new normal, my household upgraded to a 4K/UHD television. Binge-watching TV became a substitute for day trips. Somewhere in the middle of my 10th re-watch of The Great British Baking Show, I remembered that once upon a time, I’d written about 4K television adoption (back in February of 2018, which feels like a lifetime ago), and wondered just how much the landscape had changed over the course of two years. In honor of my improved television binging setup, I have decided to revisit 4K/UHD televisions to better understand if anything has changed.

Whose TVs are consumers buying?

For the most part, consumers are buying the big-name brands that you expect. Most consumers gravitate towards technology innovators Samsung and LG, or value leader Vizio. When it comes to unit shares, Samsung currently leads the way with a share that is nearly double that of its closest competitor (TraQline, R4Q ending March 2020). Consumers tend to lean towards Samsung televisions due to the value they place on Samsung’s brand name and the product quality of their products.

Rising to number two is LG. The brand has seen consistent, significant year-over-year growth for four of the past five years. Until recently, the number two brand was Vizio, which now takes third place. Vizio’s broad assortment of products – from value to premium – have finally helped the brand reverse year-over year market share losses for the first time in several years. Some of those losses may have resulted from the outcry following customers learning that Vizio had been collecting information on television owners without their knowledge or consent. This fall from grace likely gave LG the edge it needed to capture market share.

What’s Driving Consumer Choice?

Both LG and Samsung are frequently at the forefront of television technology advancements, adding screen tech like QLED and OLED, experimenting with TV form factors, and so on. Eye-catching technology and innovative form factors catch consumers’ attention. In fact, 27% of consumers choose television brands based on features the television has available. As a result, brand names like LG and Samsung tend to be top of mind for consumers, which adds to the appeal when making a higher priced investment like a television. Almost 25% of TraQline respondents revealed that a Good Brand Name was a key factor in their decision to purchase televisions. For those consumers looking for value – value brands such as Vizio and TCL tend to pick up these new features in the model years after they are introduced. While they may not be first to market, the lack of R&D investment allows them to price – and sometimes even upgrade – the feature (such as Vizio’s impressive 480 LED zones) at prices that the large brands can’t touch.

What’s the deal with 4K?

If you’re out looking for a new television, you will find that 4K is becoming the norm for TVs. This trend began in Q4 2017, when 4K/Ultra High Definition televisions overtook 1080i/1080p televisions to be the number one Television resolution purchased. 4k TV currently makes up nearly half of the TVs sold at retail (TraQline, R4Q End March 2020).

a graph displayed on a television screen, detailing how 4K televisions have outsold 1080p/i televisions over time

When I first wrote on this topic, 1080i/1080p televisions still held the top position in the market. As prices for 4K televisions have continued to fall and the cost of technology drops, there has been wider adoption of this resolution. And while Samsung has retained the lead I noted two years ago, we’ve seen LG move up the ranks past its rival Vizio. As additional features continue to trickle down into affordable price ranges, more budget-friendly brands can attract consumers who just need the perfect television to binge Netflix, not the fanciest, most advanced television on the block.

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