SID/DSCC Business Conference Download – TV Display Technology and Markets

Published May 24, 2021

The Business Conference session on TV Display Technology and Markets brought five presentations, including my own, three from the market research side and two from the industry representing competing technologies for wide color gamut. My presentation covered material that should be familiar to DSCC Weekly Review readers, so I will not duplicate it here, but I can describe the main topics:

  • TV drives the Crystal Cycle because it represents >70% of the display area;
  • TV profitability for brands and panel makers has never been higher;
  • Samsung remains the leading brand for premium TV, but their share has slipped in the last two quarters;
  • The battle between LCD and OLED in the premium TV space will continue as each technology pushes to higher performance.

My presentation included some of the latest data from DSCC’s Quarterly Advanced TV Shipment Report, ahead of the Q2 release of that report. I will cover that data when the report is released next week but will include one small slice of the presentation. The charts show the cut of global Advanced TV by price point and brand. As the chart indicates, the biggest volume in the market is priced between $500 and $1000, where Samsung dominates. Samsung has also brought Advanced TV under $500 and dominates there. Above $1000, LG’s strength in OLED TV gives it a strong position, and LG has a leading share in TVs sold over $3000, but as the chart shows, the volumes above $2000 drop off rapidly.

Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021
Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021

Stephen Baker of NPD provided his annual deep dive into the US TV industry with his presentation entitled “US TV Market: Can the Boom Continue?” As the title implies and as DSCC has shared with our own data, the US TV market has boomed during the pandemic. Baker gave specifics from NPD’s unique sell-thru data.

One of his first charts showed monthly unit growth and ASP going back to 2018. Unit growth spiked starting in April 2020, with every month yielding >20% growth from April through October and growth averaging 40% during those months. The unit figures cooled in the holiday season as the pandemic suppressed the normal holiday shopping but revived again in January 2021 with 30% Y/Y growth.

The ASP figures on the same chart illustrated the effect of the pandemic and LCD TV panel price increases. The ASPs quoted by NPD represent a true average of all TVs, across all screen sizes, brands, and feature mix, so they are not comparable to DSCC’s panel price index because the screen size and brand mix can change. Nevertheless, the pattern is instructive. ASPs bottomed out in April 2020 at ~$320 as brands and retailers panicked about the pandemic but have increased steadily since then to $426 in April 2021, the highest point ever, according to Baker.

Baker presented a separate slide on ASP by screen size and the Y/Y change, shown here. Again, recognize that NPD’s ASP cuts across all brands and feature mix, and in the case of the larger sizes, cuts across the technology split between LCD and OLED, but the numbers show that TV prices are increasing, without question. Only in the largest sizes, which have seen more modest LCD TV panel price increases, do we see Y/Y declines.

Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021
Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021

Another slide showing weekly data on TV units showed the dramatic impact of the US government stimulus checks in April 2020 and again in March 2021. These checks coincided with a 40%-50% week-to-week increase in TV units which then tailed off after 4-5 weeks.

One aspect of the market that helps explain the increased ASPs, Baker said, is the reduction in promotional discounts. In 2019 more than 50% of all TVs in were sold “on discount”, but this proportion dropped to only 19% in Q1 2021. Whether this reflects any reduction in marketing budgets for TV brands or simply a shortage, is unclear, but when consumers must pay the full price for a TV, ASPs increase.

One of my favorite charts that Baker updates every year is shown here, the US TV market by price point. Baker used this data to support his assertion that $700 is the new threshold for premium prices in TV, instead of $1000. Baker noted that the percentage of TVs sold over $700 decreased last year to less than 10%, and he attributed that to pandemic-related store closures. When in-person shopping was disallowed, the ability to upsell to more premium products was curtailed.

Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021
Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021

Some other insights from Stephen Baker’s presentation:

  • Nearly 80% of 65” TVs sell for less than $700;
  • Of TVs selling for >$700, nearly 50% are 75” and larger;
  • One out of three 75”+ TVs sells for >$2500;
  • The top three brands (Samsung, LG and Sony) capture >90% of TVs sold at >$700;
  • The top five brands for <$700 are Samsung, TCL, Vizio, LG and Hisense. Together these five capture ~70% of the market at lower price points;
  • NPD forecasts that the full year 2021 will see a 5% decline in TV units with a similar decline in 2022;
  • The second half of 2021 is expected to decline 10% from 2020 levels but remain 7% ahead of 2019 levels.

The presentation from Paul Gagnon of Omdia, covered the global TV market with an emphasis on understanding the effect of the pandemic. Gagnon described the reaction of the TV industry to the pandemic as “from ‘doom and gloom’ to ‘boom and zoom.’ As he related in the slide shown here, though, the boom was far from universal. Although the North American market boomed, the markets in China and Asia Pacific declined Y/Y and the worldwide total increased only 1%.

Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021
Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021

While Gagnon tracked the increase of TV screen size by region, he related the surprising result that the average screen size in 2020 in North America declined because of a surge of 32” sales. The worldwide average screen size increased to 46.5”.

For 2021, Omdia forecasts a slight decrease in TV units, with NA down by 4M offset by China increasing by 2M. Gagnon sees the balance of power shifting in the 2nd half of 2021 from panel makers to TV brands, as increased display capacity and higher TV set prices put downward pressure on panel prices. In its forecast for developed regions, Omdia sees reduced TV demand in 2022-2025 due to the pull-in factor.

Jason Hartlove of Nanosys covered his company’s newest developments in quantum dots and showed some promising ideas for the future. Jason’s presentation started with a historical perspective on TV technology, as he characterized the period from 1991-2011 as the transition from CRT and plasma to Edge-Lit LCD, and the period since 2015 as a battle between LCD-backlit LCD (with QDEF), White OLED and more recently MiniLED-backlit LCD with QDEF. In the next five years, Nanosys expects four major display technologies: QD OLED, MicroLED, QD-MicroLED and NanoLED, each of which can be enabled by Nanosys technology.

Hartlove showed why QDEF has been popular with TV brands, as the cost of adding QDEF to a 65” TV set is only $16, but the added price is $140. I would suggest a little bit of caution with those numbers because the incremental price needs to be shared between the brand and the retailer, but I think the concept is correct. Hartlove contrasted the positive return for QDEF with a negative return for 8K, with a $215 cost and only a $145 incremental selling price. I think this underestimates the incremental selling price of 8K.

Hartlove disclosed that Nanosys in 2021 has achieved and commercialized an aerobically stable quantum dot, which removes the need for an expensive barrier film in the QDEF. This allows Barrier-Free QDEF and the new xQDEF Diffuser Plate, which can outperform standard diffuser plates because QD emitters are better diffusers, doubling the LED illumination radius.

As Nanosys has worked with Samsung to develop Quantum Dot Color Converters (QDCCs) for Samsung Display’s QD OLED panels, they have announced a breakthrough in green QD. The “New Green” quantum dot for QDCCs improves efficiency by 35% and has a narrower emission spectrum.

Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021
Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021

In MicroLED, Nanosys sees an opportunity from one of the problems with the technology: red microLED efficiency decreases drastically as LED size is reduced to less than 10um. According to Nanosys, red via color conversion is much more efficient. Nanosys is working with Aledia on QDCC for MicroLED for Augmented Reality devices, and Hartlove said that they have achieved >100,000 nits of brightness with 1.8um MicroLEDs and QDCC for more than 12,000 pixels per inch.

Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021
Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021

Finally, looking out longer term Hartlove described the prospects for NanoLED, better known as electroluminescent quantum dot LED or EL-QD. He cited demonstrations by BOE and Sharp and believes that products using this technology could be shipping in 2025. A Nanosys Invited Paper in the Display Week Symposium described the progress in EL-QD since 2019, with more than two orders of magnitude in lifetime increase and a 24% efficiency gain.

James Murphy and Rachel Cassidy of GE described their company’s progress in advancing a competing technology for wide color gamut, phosphors. GE’s KSF phosphor has a characteristic emission spectrum with five separate emission peaks, but each peak has less than 2nm FWHM. KSF provides a red color point that is better than quantum dots, and KSF has achieved remarkable success in the marketplace. Cassidy reported that KSF has been used on more than 40B LEDs, with 19 companies licensing, and GE makes a credible case that the emergence of KSF has stunted the growth of quantum dot TVs.

For Display Week 2021, GE has announced a new collaboration agreement with specialty chemical supplier Current Lighting Solutions. The agreement pledges that the two companies will cooperate on the development of small-size KSF phosphors for MiniLED and MicroLED applications, with the target of developing sub-micron sizes.

Murphy described some of GE’s latest work on narrow band green phosphors. GE presented a paper at the Display Week Symposium reporting progress on five different phosphors being developed. The existing beta sialon phosphor has emission into the red portion of the spectrum, but the new green phosphors under development have a better spectrum, so it will enable better color points.

Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021
Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021

GE is also working on submicron and nanoscale KSF phosphors, detailed in another symposium paper (62.6), and GE announced that it can achieve 100nm in particle size. Further work needs to be done with these smaller particles to improve reliability and absorbance, but GE sees these small-scale KSF as viable competitors to quantum dots for MicroLED color conversion. Murphy pointed out that InP quantum dots have “self-absorption”, where they absorb some light in the same wavelength as their emission spectrum, but KSF phosphors have no self-absorption.

Murphy presented his case that KSF provides a more efficient solution at thicker absorption layers, as shown in the slide here. While GE acknowledges that QDs absorb more strongly, they do not reach very high efficiency numbers and with thicker layers the efficiency decreases because of self-absorption. KSF can achieve higher efficiencies at thicker layers, and Murphy described several architectures that enable these relatively thick layers, but it remains to be seen whether this is an attractive trade-off.

Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021
Source: SID/DSCC Business Conference at DisplayWeek 2021
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Written by

Bob O'Brien