4K TV shipments soar to 6.4M in 2014

After several slow quarters, a report from DisplaySearch on global TV shipments suggests consumers may be ready for new TVs.

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Samsung led the market for 4K televsision last quarter, according to DisplaySearch. Ty Pendlebury/CBS Interactive

Shipments of 4K televisions jumped more than 500 percent last quarter as overall global TV shipments rebounded, according to a new report from DisplaySearch.

More than 3 million 4K televisions, also called Ultra HD televisions, shipped to retail outlets during the third quarter, bringing total shipments for 2014 up to 6.4 million, said DisplaySearch in a quarterly report released Tuesday. China is the leading market for 4K TVs, which have a minimum resolution of 3,840x2,160 pixels, and accounted for more than 60 percent of global shipments last quarter. Shipments of 4K TVs are expected to reach a fever pitch next quarter, as broader competition and lower price points continue to drive demand, said Paul Gagnon, director of global TV research at DisplaySearch.

Samsung leads the global market for 4K televisions with a 36 percent share, though local brands such as Hisense and Changhong are fiercely competing with the tech giant in China, said DisplaySearch. LG Electronics was the No. 2 brand during the third quarter with 15 percent of the global 4K TV market, while Sony captured the No. 4 spot with 9 percent of the market, said the report.

While overall global TV shipments improved this quarter, the TV industry has suffered several quarters of weak growth. Annual TV shipment growth averaged less than 1 percent in the first half of this year, according to DisplaySearch. Improvement this quarter may be a sign that TV shipments have hit bottom and consumers are ready for new TVs, said Gagnon.

Consumers who bought their first flat-panel TVs around 2008 are looking for an upgrade, Gagnon said, with many consumers focused on TVs in the 40- to 50-inch range, larger than the 32-inch TVs which have been a go-to for holiday deals. Increased TV shipments in the third quarter also suggest retailers have high expectations for Black Friday, and even pre-Black Friday, sales, he said.

Overall, global TV shipments improved 4 percent year over year, with LCD (liquid crystal display) TV shipments barely compensating for a decline in shipments of plasma TVs and old-school CRT TVs. North America led demand for LCD TVs in the quarter, said DisplaySearch, with China and India also seeing increased LCD TV shipments.