Global technology research firm Omdia has just released its latest update on the state of affairs in the 8K TV world – and it’s not nice reading for brands investing heavily 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. If we convert that to the actual number of units sold, we’re barely talking 350,000 8K TV sales worldwide.
Omnia’s research found that 95,500 8K TVs were shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2021, up from 81,900 in the previous quarter. This may indicate a positive – albeit very slow – direction of travel for 8K TVs. However, as Omnia points out in its report, such a small difference could be skewed simply by the arrival of major selling events like Black Friday and Christmas in the fourth quarter.
What’s more, it turns out that Samsung — which accounts for a whopping 65% of all 8K TV shipments — actually shipped nearly 20% fewer 8K TVs in 2021 than it did last year.
Looking back at the growth of first the HD and then the 4K market, that kind of 8K sales figure doesn’t seem nearly enough to suggest that the 8K resolution is producing the kind of dynamic that the TV hardware market is compelling to see that 8K is still “the next big thing”.
It’s also hard to see from numbers like this why content creators would feel a big push to create significant amounts of content in 8K. This is effectively creating a negative spiral for the 8K market as, as Omdia points out, the painfully slow adoption of 8K TVs suggests customers see no compelling reason to pay a premium for an 8K TV when there is so little 8K content there.
For most of the world, 8K content remains largely confined to a few YouTube videos. The only country that has matched support for 8K content is Japan with its dedicated 8K channel from NHK. But even there, adoption of 8K TVs has been very limited, according to Omdia’s research. In fact, the largest maker of 8K TVs, 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. However, according to Omdia, China will not push the 8K market as much as North America and Western Europe for the simple reason that price pressure is such a big problem for the Chinese market.
Using the latest 8K sales numbers to try and predict where 8K might go next, Omdia now expects that 2.7 million homes will have an 8K TV by the end of 2026. That might not sound too bad at first glance, but the reality is that no single region of the global market is forecast to achieve sufficient 8K adoption to make the technology, in Omdia’s words, “commercially interesting.”
Despite Omdia’s (and other researchers’) shattering results on 8K, big brands like Samsung, Sony, LG, TCL and Hisense are all still adding 8K models to their 2022 TV ranges. In fact, in most cases, brands are positioning their 8K TVs as their flagship models, combining their high resolution with premium build and design features. In fact, my experience suggests that the (usually AI-assisted) upscaling engines in most 8K TVs are so good, at least for 4K sources, that they can actually enhance the viewing experience to the point where 8K TVs are a Worth considering, even if you can you can’t get your hands on true 8K content.
However, it really looks like 8K is destined to remain a fringe of the TV market rather than becoming a dominant force any time soon. If ever. So much so that some commentators have taken Samsung’s decision to launch new TVs with QD-OLED technology this year, despite OLED resistance in years past, as a signal that the biggest proponent of 8K is deciding that it is time to turn its growth attention to other areas.
Time will tell on this front. While I personally support the idea and potential of 8K, given the stellar 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 catching on with consumers at all .
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