Flat Panel TV Shipments Expected to Fall in the U.S. for the First Time Ever

Ever since the flat panel TV segment came into existence, it's experienced growth on an annual basis, and that includes when the recession in 2008 hit an all time high. But just like the Boston Celtics reeling off 8 consecutive NBA championships in a row from 1959-1966, all good runs eventually come to an end, and so it looks to be that way for flat panel televisions. According to IHS iSuppli's crystal ball, flat panel TV shipments will decline to 37.1 million units by the end of 2012, down 5 percent from 39.1 million units in 2011.

"The U.S. flat-panel television market has never declined on an annual basis, even at the height of the recession in 2008 and 2009," noted Lisa Hatamiya, TV research analyst for IHS. "The decline starting this year suggests that demand may have crested for the mature U.S. TV market. Sales in the United States now are being driven by consumers who are replacing their older flat-panel sets with new models boasting more advanced features. This contrasts with developing regions of the world where vibrant, untapped markets remain for buyers making their first-ever purchase of flat-panel sets."

Perhaps part of the problem isn't that there hasn't been a whole lot of innovation to temp TV viewers into upgrading their current sets. The allure of ditching those big and bulky rear-projection screens for a flat panel LCD helped drive the market early on, and it didn't hurt that prices steadily declined over the years. But for those who already own an LCD TV, upgrading to a more expensive LED-backlit panel or a 3D model apparently just isn't enough to fuel continued growth in the market as a whole, though IHS iSuppli says LED TVs are expected to see rapid double-digit growth in the upcoming years.