TV Demand Slumps Because We’re All Making Do With What We Already Have

TV in the living room, in the den, in the kitchen, the bathroom (no judgment) and in the family room? You’re not alone — for the first time, LCD TV sales are falling, along with other flat-screen models, partly because we’ve already got all the TVs we need.

Back around Thanksgiving, prices for LCD TVs — which make up 84% of the flat-screen market, according to CNNMoney — fell to the lowest prices ever. And now shipments of LCD units have declined for the first time ever, dropping 4% to 43 million units in the first quarter of 2012.

If things are suffering in LCD land, it’s even more bleak for other TV types likes plasma screens. Around the world, overall TV shipments fell 8% to 51 million units.

The reason no one is buying new TVs? Once we invest in a TV, or multiple TVs, most people stick with that model for longer than say, a smartphone or a laptop.

The deals we saw during Black Friday last year won’t likely crop up again this year, as analysts say fewer shipments of TVs means retailers won’t be in a hurry to offload products cheaply. Prices will likely slowly drop for consumers, eventually. But TV manufacturers will still have a hard time in this saturated market, unless they come up with something exciting and fantastic enough to entice owners to make a change.

LCD TV shipments decline for first time ever [CNNMoney]

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  1. PSUSkier says:

    Oh, you mean 3D technology isn’t making everyone go out and purchase new TVs?

    • HenryES says:

      It’s getting hard to find a TV with a decent array of features that doesn’t have 3D. I got a new one earlier in the year that had it and watched about 10 mins of Avatar, but haven’t used it since

      • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

        We don’t have a 3D TV, but we have a 3D Blu-Ray player. We’d held off on getting a BR player until know, much of the reason being that the technie in the house (me) really isn’t able to distinguish much of a qualify difference (I have some other mildly annoying but not at all debilitating graphics-related inabilities, so the problem is me). We were looking for specific features, and really could only find them in the 3D players, so we bought one, figuring that if we got a 3D TV in the future, we’d be all set.

        It came with a promo offer for the 3D version of Avatar. Which, naturally, we had no use for, since it wouldn’t be 3D on our TV.

        So I sold it on eBay for $86, which defrayed a majority of the cost of the player. Turns out that it was only available as part of that promo offer.

    • visual77 says:

      I have a 3D TV.

      I bought it because it was a great price for a regular TV and I liked the features. The 3D did not factor into anything at all and was just a neat bonus. Since I bought it about 18 months ago, I’ve used it once (Uncharted 3 for PS3… fucking amazing).

      I *want* to use it more, but there just isn’t anything good out in 3D worth getting.

      • PSUSkier says:

        That’s exactly my point. I believe it would be safe to say that the majority of people who purchased the 3D TVs did so because they needed or wanted a TV, not because of the 3D technology. There aren’t that many who purchased a 1080p television earlier that are going to pitch it to go buy one that has 3D tech.

        • GoldVRod says:

          I take it you’ve never seen Avatar on a 3D TV. You’ll never look at 2D the same way again.

          • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

            We watched it in Imax in 3d when it came out, but I don’t think your tv can hold a candle to that.

            Not to mention the technology is so new that they haven’t even figured out how to make it so a whole family can watch – you see the 3d ONLY if you’re sitting DIRECTLY in front of the thing.

            Not to mention the fact you have to buy expensive glasses to even use the damn thing.

            • dadelus says:

              Or just hold onto the glasses they give you at the theater when you watch 3d movies.

              It’s a much cheaper option :)

              • teqjack says:

                Uh, no: the new 3D is not the two-colors-of-lens that we used to watch with occasionally, there are electronics involved which alter the properties of the lenses as you watch.

                And the glasses cost as much as some TVs, they are heavy, if you already wear glasses ir is difficult to find a 3D option so you can watch (and you still pay for one pair of glasses you cannot use since it is packaged with the TV) – on and on.

                • SerenityDan says:

                  You do know the glasses at the Theater are not those 2 color ones right? They are polarized lenses. Some 3D TV’s do use those, like the one I have (LG Cinema 3D) and it is amazing.

          • OutPastPluto says:

            I’ve seen plenty of 3D movies at the cinema and gone away unimpressed.

            Seeing Avatar on a 3D TV is not likely to make up for the 3D cinematic version of Toy Story 3.

          • alexwade says:

            I say Avatar in Imax and I was none too impressed there. I will be even less impressed at a home 3D TV. Plus, the plot in Avatar was boring and predictable. I have a high standard when it comes to movies, except comedies, and if a movie has a bad plot, nothing else it does can make up for that. Better to a 2D movie right than overwhelm your senses and forget about the plot.

          • rdclark says:

            I’ve seen Avatar five times. I love the movie. First time was in Real3D, and I managed not to throw up until I was outside the theater. The second time was in Imax 3D, and this time the headache stayed in my head.

            The rest of the times were in 2D, on Blu-ray, using my optimized home theater system. They were the best. Brighter, more detail, no ill effects, better sound than any theater. Perfect sound and image with no babbling yahoos in the surrounding sets.

            In the real world, which has three physical dimensions, you can look at anything, near or far, and your eyes will focus on it. In a 3D movie, you can only focus on whatever the filmmaker chooses to be in focus. This lack of ability to focus your eye on what you’re looking at makes some people sick.

            So no, current 3D tech has nothing for me.

        • SerenityDan says:

          I actually bought a 3D TV just because I’m a 3D junkie. Didn’t actually need a new TV. Granted if one of my TV’s hadn’t still been a CRT I probably would have waited.

      • TD99 says:

        Wait. Uncharted 3 supports 3-D?! Damn! It looks amazing in 2-D! I just finished the part where the mansion burns down. Incredible!

    • baristabrawl says:

      I hate 3D. I avoid it at all costs. I’m so sick of everyone jumping in line to watch movies in 3D I could kick a puppy. It’s not for me.

  2. DemosCat says:

    We “make do” with exactly one TV, the big one in the den. I see no need to buy any more TV’s.

    If someone in the family must watch something else at the same time, he/she can go use his/her computer.

  3. MovingTarget says:

    I’m still watching a 27″ RCA CRT TV we bought 12 years ago or so…works fine.

    • visual77 says:

      I assume you’re not a gamer. More and more games these days are relying on their users having HD TVs for being able to even read the menus. I know Assassin’s Creed pushed a friend of mine into an HD TV because he was literally unable to read the text, at any distance, since the game was made with an HD TV in mind and the font was sized appropriately.

    • frank64 says:

      I was very happy with my 32 inch CRT until it broke. Now I like the HD, but it really does not add to my viewing pleasure.

    • BeamMeUp says:

      Still using our 28″ CRT bought when we moved into our current house, 16 years ago.

    • vastrightwing says:

      I’m with you bro. Add to that, WTF is there to watch on TV? Come on! Let’s look at a few options. No TV, books, music, socializing, computers, phones, tablets, etc. There are just way more options now. TVs are simply yet another monitor format. How many does one need? Frankly I’m fine with a single 50″ monitor and a laptop and phone. That’s more than enough. I don’t need monitors in my kitchen, bathroom and patio too.

    • redskull says:

      Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s still watching old school CRT TV. I still have my 27″ Sony that I bought back in 1995. I dumped cable 3 years ago and I rarely play video games or watch live TV. I use it to watch TV on DVD.

      I’ve thought about buying an HDTV from time to time, but whenever I see my friend’s and family’s sets, I’m appalled at the pixilation and artifacts that plague the screen. I can’t tell if they just don’t know how to set up their sets, or if it’s because they’re watching non HD channels or what. Whatever the reason, I’m not impressed.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        Mine’s a WalMart Sanyo monstrosity from 1992. Works like a charm.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          I had one of those, but I ditched it for a 37″ widescreen. Had trouble seeing on the Sanyo when watching a movie. This one is easier on my eyes.

    • dolemite says:

      There’s a guy at work that still has a TV like that. He’s a big time sports fan. He says he doesn’t have the money for a new TV. Doesn’t have $200 for a 32″ HD tv? Cmon….

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I had a 12 year old Toshiba repaired for 110$ a few years ago and it works/looks great.

      Around 2000ish was probably the best time to buy a CRT because most of the kinks were worked of that technology by then.

      Funny thing when I took that Toshiba and others in for repair a few years ago I was stunned by all the LCD flat screens in the shop for repair. Always buy a product after it’s been out on the market for a while especially if a new concept or technology so the kinks have been worked out.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      I still have a 27″ Sony Trinitron from the first year they came out. I ended up giving it to my sister to put in her basement playroom for the kids because it was too heavy for me to lug around. It’s still working fine.

      • Willow16 says:

        We had a 32″ Sony Trinitron until the October snow storm and the power fluctuations fried it. There was no reason to replace it until it died. We did replace it with a 40″ Samsung LED right before Christmas and plan to keep that as long as we can. I do not view TVs as disposable.

    • RedOryx says:

      Yup. Mine is 8 years old. I only use it for DVDs and my Wii (I watch all tv online)

    • Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

      I had a 27″ JVC CRT that still had a beautiful picture when I sold it. I owned it for about 8-9 years. I could have done without my 42″ LG LED, but damn is it nice watching movies on that baby.

    • kc2idf says:

      We just took advantage of the current slump in prices, to finally upgrade the 27″ Samsung CRT we’ve been watching for the past 12 years to a 39″ LCD. The CRT was starting to do funny and unpleasant things with 1080i, though it still shows 480p/i without issue, so it has been moved to our three-season room.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      That’s nothing. I still prefer to stare at old oil paintings.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I guess TV manufacturers need to make models that break earlier. Cut it down to, what, 6 months?

  5. gman863 says:

    TVs have become so cheap it’s almost crazy.

    Fry’s has a 32″ LCD for $189 this week; I’ve seen 50″ plasmas as low as $499 recently.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      For once I bought at the right time, finding a nice RCA 42″ plasma back in February for a bit over 300$, finally upgrading my 27″ Samsung and moving into the HD age. All I can say is, if you are a sports fan or a gamer, you are missing out without that big screen. Definitely worth it.

  6. Torchwood says:

    Whats wrong with waiting to replace the television when it’s broken? I’m sure that plenty of people already replaced the main viewing television with a HDTV. Secondary televisions get replaced on a as-needed basis.

    And, in my book, television is a nice thing to have, it isn’t a need.

    • Firethorn says:

      Different definitions of ‘broken’, I guess. I replaced my 32″ CRT due to the combination of the transition to digital broadcasting and moving – didn’t want to haul the heavy CRT anymore. Basically, it didn’t do what I wanted it to anymore.

      I now have a 42″ LCD, which is unlikely to be replaced before it fails – no picture or something. I did get a 1080p set for maximum flexibility, but my viewing distance is more for 720 – though if I move/rearrange, that could change. Only thing that pisses me off is that it doesn’t handle computer inputs properly. Can’t the computer to display at 1080 using a DVI-HDMI connector; it’s supposed to work, darn it. Can get SD, which is odd. Analog will give me 1080, but not widescreen. It’s wierd.

      If I was closer to my family, I’d seriously consider donating it to my parents(who will ONLY use it as a TV) in exchange for me buying the viewsonic LED LCD for myself. I figure that if anybodyc can figure out how to have a LCD TV work well as a computer monitor, viewsonic can.

      On monitors – I have two because I like showing a lot of information. They’re so handy. I’ve actually considered buying the big monitors that have 2080/2400 resolution levels. They’re like 4 monitors in one.

  7. giax says:

    My marriage advice: no TV in bedroom.

    • donjumpsuit says:

      This only works if you actually spend time in the bedroom. Our TV room is our defacto bedroom. All the business sans sleep that would take place in the bedroom, takes place in the TV room.

      • BigHeadEd says:

        Doesn’t it hurt your back hauling the bed into the TV room for non-sleep “business”.

    • dolemite says:

      Who needs sex when I have Game of Thrones and Adventure Time?

  8. yellowdog says:

    That’s what Samsung gets for making such a reliable set – we keep and enjoy our 46″ for years and years (although I would love one of the 80″ Sharps, if I had the room).

    The next logical step to revive TV sales is to crank up the definition. But it may be too soon for that – lots of folks have only recently been switching to 1080p and blu-ray, and we might balk at having to buy yet another copy of “Stargate” or whatever.

    • vastrightwing says:

      This will have almost no effect. See results of BluRay: it’s main competition is DVD. Not enough people care that BluRay offers better resolution to upgrade. I have no BluRay player or drive in my home mostly because I don’t care enough. DVD is good enough, Netflix is good enough. Going beyond 720 mode or even beyond 1080 won’t translate into enough sales to bother with. I think there will be no resolution enhancements in our lifetime. It’s already better than most people require.

      • Mark702 says:

        I agree that HD netflix and stuff is fine, but to say we’ll see no resolution increase in a lifetime? I’d take that bet ANY day. I’ll bet we see an upgrade to internet connected 3D tvs with 2K or even 4K resolution within 15 years, much shorter than a lifetime.

  9. u1itn0w2day says:

    30 plus year old CRT here- first generation of the last generation of CRTs. Still works/looks great.

    Buy something I don’t need and create trash because…

  10. BigHeadEd says:

    We bought a 65″ Mitsubishi DLP in ’07 (“It’s the mirrors!!!”). Since then I’ve had to replace the light bulb 3 times, the entire light engine once, and I just replaced the mirror chip itself. Personally I think that’s pretty crappy longevity compared to say a fridge, but I can’t stand replacing something if I can keep it working and the parts (chip was around $300) are still cheaper than buying new.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I’ve replaced two power boards on 10 year old plus CRTs for under 200$ and I still have working tvs. One TV has been repaired 2 times in 20 years for 200$ so that’s about 20 plus years of TV for under $600 if you include purchase price.

    • DAS37 says:

      Lamp replacement is the one big drawback of the DLPs. I have to replace mine every 2 years although you can find them on Amazon for under $100 a pop compared to the $275 or so the manufacturer wants to charge you. The newer LED and laser based DLPs eliminate this as well as the color wheel.

  11. sparc says:

    I did my main HDTV purchase about a year and a half ago and am pretty happy.

    However, I could buy two more HDTVs at this point for different rooms. Only thing holding me back is price. No way i’m going to spend $1k per TV for secondary rooms. I don’t have a problem waiting for years or possibly never getting TVs for those rooms.

    • Torchwood says:

      I picked up a 32″ 1080p HDTV for $300 (before tax) last December. For a secondary room, that’s not a bad price.

  12. donjumpsuit says:

    For the most part, I love my fellow commenters on this blog, pleasant, sometimes funny, knowledgeable, and productive.
    However, I do have to say for this particular post, you are showing your age, and maybe I am hanging out with a bunch of 60 year olds? (not that there is anything wrong with that, 36yrs here).

    A CRT is a garbage TV. It could be possibly ruining your vision with all the interlacing craziness. Seriously, if you watch TV daily, you have to move on. If it really isn’t part of your life, or a once a week refresh, then by all means, put your resources elsewhere.

    Also, spending $189 on a 32″ “flat screen LCD HDTV” is probably also just as useless. This is the Consumerist, a subsidiary of Consumer Reports. Or CNET. Or HDTVguru. Go here to understand how far your money goes when purchasing a new TV, which (if you are like me and others on this page) Should last 6 to 12 years. Put the money and time in when you make a purchase, and have it for a long time. It’s worth paying for a good TV when you purchase it, rather than something budget that you will have to replace in 2-5 years.

    I am sure you waste enough things in this world on a daily basis. If you drive a car on the regular, you are contributing to some of the worlds most horrible sins, but just tune it out because ‘everybody does it’. Electronic waste is treated better these days then it has been in the past when it was just tossed on the old pile. Circuit boards with toxic metals get separated out and recycled, plastics get recycled, steel/copper/aluminium gets recycled and glass/silicon gets recycled. I am not naive to think that it may happen by shipping large containers to third world countries where those who process it perhaps don’t have the right protective gear for themselves or their immediate environment, but it gets done none-the-less.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I’m 49, and I could afford to buy a new flat screen HD TV, but my old one works just fine, and I don’t watch enough TV to make it worth it. If it blows up tonight, I’ll buy a new one, but my whole family is pretty frugal, and my DNA won’t allow me to take something to the landfill that’s in good working order :) I’m pretty sure lightning may strike.

      I just don’t need a 1080p 50″ LCD to watch The Lone Ranger from 1949. It’s more at home on my old Sanyo CRT.

  13. Costner says:

    I have two Samsungs… one 46″ and one 40″ both of which are 1080P. They are LCD, but not LED… and I’ll admit I’d love to upgrade to get one of the newer thinner sets… but honestly I’m not about to spend that kind of money just to have something that is a few inches thinner.

    The 3D thing doesn’t interest me because I have zero desire to wear glasses to watch TV. Plus I’m typically surfing on my iPad while watching TV, so having to wear glasses would require me to focus on the TV experience alone… which isn’t happening.

    I also have no desire to have “apps” on my TV. My Blu-Ray player and my PS3 can both watch YouTube videos and Netflix, and I don’t need anything else on my TV.

    So the next innovation they are bragging about is OLED panels. Those are beautiful, but they are expecting a 55″ set to cost $9k. Thanks… but no thanks. It will be 2014 or 2015 before prices drop to levels the typical person could afford, so I don’t see myself buying a new TV for at least two to three years minimum.

    • Firethorn says:

      I think that’s the point – current generation TV’s are ‘good enough’ to the vast majority of the population and TVs don’t break that often. Heck, many have 3 year warranties on them.

      Sure, I’ll probably upgrade to a 120hz LED when I replace my current TV. It’ll probably be lighter, thinner, and more energy efficient, but those aren’t reasons enough to replace my current completely functional set.

  14. oldwiz65 says:

    3D is a pain and definitely not worth spending that much money. We have a 2 year old quite decent LCD TV and see no reason to consider replacing it unless it dies. I’m more interested in upgrading comptuers than the TV.

  15. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    Well, I guess TV manufacturers are just gonna have to start installing self-destruct switches so people have to replace their TVs every year.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Otherwise known as planned obsolesence.

      They still could manufacture/mass produce the parts that tend to go bad and make repairing a tv a worth while endevour again.

    • incident_man says:

      I think they kinda do that already because there aren’t many tv repair shops that can repair the newer ones, if something goes awry, for much less than the cost of a new tv. The new flat screen types are, by design, more of a disposable type.

      The older tube-style were a different story. The tube blows out, you take it to the repair shop and they put a new tube in it. With the new ones, if the lcd panel gets cracked, then, chances are, the whole panel has to be replaced. The cost involved could possibly outstrip the cost of a new tv, thereby making the broken tv a “disposable” one.

  16. who? says:

    Besides the fact that I’ve never replaced a working TV in my life, I have the largest possible LCD TV that will fit the space I have. It’s five years old, works fine, and has a beautiful picture. I wish it had more HDMI inputs, but I solved that with a cheap HDMI switch.

    Why should I buy a new TV?

  17. Claybird says:

    Still use CRT in my bedroom and my parents still use theirs too.

  18. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    how many thousand dollar tv’s do you need this year?

  19. Cacao says:

    My friend and I have a pact not to get a ‘thin’ tv until ours die. Amazing to think that I got my tv in 2000, it is a 32 incher and cost $500. My sis just upgraded hers to a 42 inch ‘thin’ for the same $500 (and from others on this board, it sounds like she could have spent less).

    • who? says:

      My dad and I never had a pact like that, but neither of us has ever bought a new TV unless the old one wasn’t watchable anymore.

      5 years ago, both of our TV’s died the same week. When I called him to tell him of my new purchase, he beat me to the punch….

  20. MMD says:

    I wonder where all of yesterday’s “OMG why don’t you have HD?!” commenters on the Comcast story are today?

  21. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I believe we’ll find that cable/satellite subscriptions are holding steady or being canceled as the contracts come up because people are trying to make do. Many of us are becoming part of the “make do” generation.

  22. mbz32190 says:

    I have a 46″ Samsung LCD I got a few years ago, only because it was to replace a crappy “refurbed” sanyo tube HDTV that died after 4 years. While it is amazing, especially with HD service, TV really isn’t a big priority in my life. I seldom play video games and not a sports fan. The TV was a closeout model and got a price that even today, is still lower than new Samsung tv’s. All my other TV’s are 15 year old CRT sets in spare rooms, kitchen, etc. and have no reason to replace them.

  23. JollyJumjuck says:

    I had a 32″ Emerson CRT that my father gave me used, and in the six years I had it, the tuner broke three times. Apparently it built up a static charge over time (started “popping” more and more often). After the third time and a potential $300 bill, I bought a Sharp 32″ 1080i TV six years ago. It still works fine with *no* problems.
    Also had an Optiquest CRT (19″) for the computer which lasted two weeks past the warranty period expiration (story of my life), but since I bought a widescreen LCD Viewsonic, it has never been an issue.

  24. brinks says:

    Secondary TVs are being replaced with computers and laptops. I’m surprised that wasn’t mentioned. We have a big TV in the living room, a small TV in the bedroom, and two computers in the house. One of the computers gets as much viewing as the TV, since much of what we watch is via Netflix.
    I grew up in a TV-loving house, where there was a TV in every bedroom, the living room, rec room, and the kitchen. Since a TV and a laptop can be similar in price, and a laptop is way more useful, I think multi-TV households are on their way out. Living room, bedroom maybe, but that’s it.

  25. turkishmonky says:

    Still waiting for affordable 4k… been waiting for years, and can keep waiting.

  26. Shorebreak says:

    I still have three CRT televisions in my home. A 32″ Sanyo, 20″ JCPenney and a 13″ Daiwu. All work fine and receive 60 channels of garbage provided by my local cable monopoly.

  27. fotobahn says:

    Cable companies are doing their part to quash demand by requiring a box for every TV at X$ per month.

  28. FLConsumer says:

    Still rockin’ a 1998-vintage Sony Trinitron CRT here. I’ve hacked a set of component video jacks onto it and am getting ~680 lines of resolution out of it. Most people think it’s HD when they see it.

    I cut cable TV many years ago. Nothing worth watching that I can’t find on Amazon/Netflix. Maybe some day I’ll buy another set, but not until this one’s dead. and the TV is *NOT* in the living room. They call it a LIVING room for a reason. Living isn’t a passive activity.