Pandemic to keep driving demand for TV panels

By Alex Jensen – 

Amid the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, we have all witnessed significant changes in the world around us. The trend of more people staying at home has driven demand for more home entertainment options – and central to home entertainment is the TV.

LG Display anticipated this spike in TV sales last year, and made smart home technology a major part of its remote booth at CES 2021. More recently, we have seen how the company has had to respond rapidly by expanding production.

Technology for the home, including OLED panels, was a big feature at LG Display’s CES 2021 booth. (Credit: LG Display)

LCD TV panels ride the wave alongside OLED

LG Display’s premium OLEDs are not the only display market to receive a boost. Since last year, LCD TV panels have also witnessed a surge in demand, representing a total reversal.

In fact, the pre-pandemic price of LCD panels had fallen so low that major display companies were considering withdrawing from the market altogether. As more people started buying LCD TVs again, this also created a supply shortage of the gate driver integrated circuits (driver ICs) needed to run LCD panels – and in turn, prices increased further.

To put this leap into perspective, the average price of 55-inch UHD LCD panels has more than doubled from the second quarter of 2020 to this year, reaching USD $222 in Q2 according to global market research firm Omdia.

With similar sharp rises being seen across various LCD panel sizes, and the double whammy of demand and the driver IC shortage continuing, Omdia expects that LCD panel prices will continue to rise until the end of the year. LG Display is closely monitoring this market situation and maintaining flexibility by continuing its LCD TV panel production in South Korea.

OLED TV panel markets ripening

That said, the company is also continuing to focus on increasing the competitiveness of OLED, the next-generation display technology, in preparation for the post-pandemic era. And since global OLED TV sales hit an all-time high last year, the OLED trend in the global TV market is now in full swing.

According to Omdia, global OLED TV shipments in 2020 increased by 20% year-on-year to 3.61 million units and are predicted to continue to rise to 5.6 million units this year, 60% more than last year. The publication also predicts that shipments are set to increase to 9 million by 2024, as shown below.

Currently, LG Display is the only manufacturer of large OLED panels and is planning to increase shipments of its OLED TV panels from 7 million to 8 million this year in line with increasing demand.

Along with meeting the needs of a growing market, LG Display is also continuing its OLED innovation effort. For instance, OLED displays are getting brighter, more vivid, and more efficient thanks to newly developed organic light emitting devices, as demonstrated at CES 2021 and more recently at SID 2021.

Along with quality improvements, the company’s product lineup is also expanding. LG Display plans to mass produce new 83-inch and 42-inch OLED TV panels this year while adding medium-sized panels between 20-30 inches in the future.

It has been quite a journey then since 2013, when LG Display started shipping OLED TV panels. The number of panels shipped by the company leapt from 200,000 that first year to 4.5 million last year. A 22x increase over 7 years points to a bright future for OLED panels, especially in the COVID-19 era and beyond.

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