Japan's Ultra HD TV channel, Channel4K, started pilot broadcast on June 2, 2014 and Digitimes Research has found that sales of Ultra HD TV sets continue to enjoy stable growth despite a recent rise in the country's consumption tax. In May 2014, 2.4% of TVs sold in the Japan market were Ultra HD models, which also made up 12.3% of overall sales value, the first time that the percentage has surpassed 10%.
In terms of sizes, 50-inch and above models accounted for 20.2% of Japan's overall TV shipments and 36.5% of overall TV sales value in May, growing significantly from the same month a year ago.
Pricing is the key driver for Japan's Ultra HD TV sales. Japan's Ultra HD TV ASPs in May dropped 32.8% on year to only JPY330,000 (US$3,256).
Among Japan-based TV vendors, Panasonic and Toshiba sell their TVs for prices lower than their competitions from Sony and Sharp in the Japan market. The difference in pricing strategies also meant a difference in market shares: Both Panasonic and Toshiba enjoyed increased shares in the Japan TV market while Sony and Sharp suffered decreased shares. It shows that pricing is a major factor behind Japan consumers' choosing Ultra HD TV models.
So far, in Japan only Sharp's Aquos 4K TU-UD1000 TV recorder is natively equipped with an Ultra HD tuner and therefore, only a limited number of Japan families with Ultra HD TVs are able to view Ultra HD content and the broadcasting system will not be completed until players such as Sony starts investing in the Ultra HD tuner development.
However, the production of Ultra HD content is a more serious issue.
With cable TV content producers lacking interests in making Ultra HD programs, creating Ultra HD content has become a task for paid TV program providers such as J:COM. However, without cable TV content producers joining the industry, it remains to be seen whether the Ultra HD TV channel will be able to satisfy demand from consumers when it officially launches in 2016. In addition, the extra costs that Japan consumers need to pay TV program providers are also expected to reduce consumers' willingness to subscribe to the TV channel, Digitimes Research believes.
This article is an excerpt from a Digitimes Research Special Report (The transition to 4k TV - UHD TV market forecast, 2014-2017). Visit our latest Special reports.