New research shows 8K TVs just aren’t catching on

Global technology research firm Omdia has just released its latest update on the state of the game in the 8K TV world – and it’s not a good read for brands heavily invested in trying to sell 8K TVs.

Omdia updated its research on the 8K TV market for the recent NAB show in Las Vegas and found that 8K TVs accounted for just 0.15% of total TV shipments in 2021. Translating that to the actual number of units sold, we’re barely talking 350,000 8K TV sales globally.

Digging deeper into Omnia’s numbers, its research found that in Q4 2021, 95,500 8K TVs were shipped globally, up from 81,900 in the previous quarter. This potentially indicates a positive – albeit very slow – scrolling direction for 8K TVs. As Omnia points out in its report, however, such a small difference can simply be distorted by the arrival in the fourth quarter of key sales events such as Black Friday and Christmas.

What’s more, Samsung – which accounts for 65% of all 8K TV shipments – actually shipped nearly 20% fewer 8K TVs in 2021 than the year before.

Looking back at the growth of HD markets and beyond 4K, these 8K sales figures don’t seem like enough to suggest that 8K resolution is generating the kind of momentum that the TV hardware market would like to see to be convinced of. that 8K is still ‘the next big thing’.

It’s also hard to see in numbers like this why content creators would feel so much impetus to start creating substantial amounts of 8K content. This effectively creates a downward spiral for the 8K market, as, as Omdia points out, the painfully slow uptake of 8K TVs suggests that customers see no compelling reason to pay a premium for an 8K TV when there is so little 8K content.

For most of the world, 8K content remains largely limited to a few YouTube videos. The only country where there is some sort of concerted 8K content support is Japan, with its dedicated 8K channel from NHK. Even there, though, acceptance of 8K TVs was very limited, according to Omdia’s research. In fact, the biggest 8K TV maker, Samsung, hasn’t shipped a single 8K model to Japan throughout 2021.

Omdia reports that the biggest market for 8K TVs in 2021 was actually China, ahead of Western Europe and North America. In Omdia’s view, however, China will not drive the 8K market as well as North America and Western Europe, for the simple reason that price pressure is such a major issue for the Chinese market.

Using the latest 8K sales figures to try to predict where 8K might go next, Omdia now expects 2.7 million households to have an 8K TV by the end of 2026. That might not seem so bad at first glance. , but in reality this forecast would not see any region of the global market achieving enough 8K absorption to make the technology, in Omdia’s words, ‘commercially interesting’.

Despite Omdia’s (and other researchers’) pessimistic 8K findings, major brands including Samsung, Sony, LG, TCL and Hisense still include 8K models in their 2022 TV ranges. brands position their 8K TVs as their flagship models, pairing their high resolution with premium design and processing capabilities. My experience suggests, in fact, that the upscaling mechanisms (often AI-enhanced) on most 8K TVs are so good, at least with 4K sources, that they can actually improve the viewing experience enough to make TVs worth considering. 8K, even though you might not get your hands on any true 8K content.

However, it looks like 8K is destined to remain a fringe part of the TV market, rather than becoming a dominant force any time soon. If sometime. So much so that some commentators saw Samsung’s decision to launch new TVs with QD OLED technology this year, despite previous years of resistance to OLED, as a sign that 8K’s biggest supporter is deciding it’s time to focus its attention on growth. somewhere else.

Time will tell on that front. While I personally support the idea and potential of 8K, however, based on the excellent quality of many of the current 8K TVs I’ve spent time with, it’s hard to disagree with Omdia’s overall conclusion that 8K is still not resonating with consumers at all.

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