A nearly 40% plunge in pricing during the last three years has made LED TVs more cost-competitive with televisions using older lighting technology — and has allowed them to become markedly less expensive than plasma televisions.
The average retail price for LED TVs sold in the United States dropped to $1,251 in the fourth quarter of 2012, down 38% from $2,031 in the first quarter of 2010, according to the IHS TV Price and Specifications Tracker. By the fourth quarter of 2012, the average price of an LED TV was just $620 more than for an LCD TV using conventional cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlighting, down from $1,127 in the first quarter of 2010.
Meanwhile, average LED TV pricing was $364 lower than plasma pricing in the fourth quarter of 2012, down from $289 more expensive in the first quarter of 2010.
"LED TVs, with their thinner screens and lower power consumption, have become a more affordable alternative in recent years compared to older display and backlighting technologies," said Veronica Thayer, TV systems analyst at IHS. "Prices have come down as more models have entered the market. Second- and third-tier television brands are offering more LED TVs, ratcheting up the competition and reducing prices. Television makers also are offering LED TVs with smaller displays, contributing to the overall decline in pricing."
Meanwhile, plasma TV pricing has held steady, contracting by just 7.3% during the past three years. Plasma TVs are being marketed as more exclusive, high-end products. Almost all plasma models now available have 3D and Internet-connectivity features.
Overall, IHS said, brands in the United States are moving away from selling a broad range of smaller sized, 32" models. Instead, these companies are focusing on offering a wider range of LCD TV models within the 40" to 55" bracket. While the 32" size still accounts for the largest number of models, the other most common sets — in order of number of product offerings — are 55", 46", 40" and 42".
Sets with extremely large display sizes have also dramatically increased their presence in the product lines of TV brands during the past year. In particular, 55" sets surged to 19% of the number of models in all brand lines available at retail in the fourth quarter of 2012, up from 8% in the first quarter of 2010. A big surge also took place for 60" TVs and their place among brand product lines, rising to 8%, up from 1% during the same period.
The number of shipments for both 55" and 60" sets has also increased sharply, and manufacturers are planning to offer a wider range of models at these sizes, IHS noted.