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Panasonic reportedly plans to pull plug on plasma TVs next year

Japanese electronics giant plans to exit the ailing market by the end of its fiscal year, sources tell Reuters.

Panasonic told CNET in March that its ZT60 could be the last plasma line the company developed.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Panasonic's days in the plasma TV market appear to be numbered.

In a long-rumored move, the Japanese electronics giant is planning to exit the market by March 2014 when its current fiscal year comes to an end, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters. That Panasonic was contemplating a departure from the market was first reported by the Japan-based newspaper Nikkei in March, but this reported timetable is sooner than some analysts had expected.

CNET has contacted Panasonic for comment and will update this report when we learn more. The company told Reuters that it was still exploring its options for the unit and that no decision has been made on its fate.

Although Panasonic's plasma TVs are considered among the best on the market, such a move might help the company repair its ailing operation, which is losing billions of dollars. In November 2012, Panasonic announced it would cut 10,000 jobs by the end of March 2013, just months after it laid off 36,000 employees in the previous fiscal year. Cutting its television operation could save it some much-needed cash and allow it to focus on other industries.

Panasonic previously had hinted that its retirement from the plasma business was nigh, telling CNET that its latest high-end plasma likely would be the last generation of plasma TV development the company would undertake.

Panasonic's exit would come as interest in plasma TVs continues to wane. Global shipments of plasma TVs declined 21 percent in 2012, compared with a 1 percent decline for LCD. That sharp fall follows years of market share decline for plasma, corresponding to the increasing dominance of LCD.