Smartphones giving tough competition to TVs, but industry hopeful of revival
Television sales in the domestic market are witnessing a decline, with manufacturers attributing weak consumer sentiment as the reason. However, market players and insiders also attribute it to changing consumer preferences, especially those interested in entry-level TVs now sticking to their smartphones for watching online content, particularly that provided by OTT players like Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
With cheap data and affordable smartphones, market watchers say entry-level consumers prefer to watch content on their personal devices. Watching OTT videos and other content on televisions is still evolving. Panasonic’s president & CEO for India and south Asia, Manish Sharma said the trend is “temporarily” impacting the market.
Industry body Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers’ Association (CEAMA) said the last decade has been a period of transformations. Consumer durables, especially television, have witnessed tremendous change structurally and technologically, which has completely changed the preferences of customers.
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This has created new challenges for the industry. CEAMA president Kamal Nandi explained, “With low-cost availability of data and rising affordability to acquire a smartphone, the entertainment industry has witnessed a transformation like no other. In fact, it has been a key driver in changing the consumption pattern. Earlier, TVs used to be first preference of a household in its list of essential electronic goods, but mobile phones have gradually replaced this. Consumers, especially under the age group of 16-35 years, spend more time on mobile phones and tablets rather than televisions.”
The trend where urban consumers generally used to have more than one TV set in their homes is also gradually witnessing a decline as smartphones have acquired that space. A smartphone is preferred to a television because the content is available on the go, it provides access to social media to keep you connected, as well as privacy, he said.
“That said, mobile phones certainly have gained an edge over TVs, but televisions still have a huge market potential in India. Given the low level of penetration and huge untapped demand, the future of televisions is promising. With the festive season about to begin, we expect that sales of televisions, which is going through a slump, will pick up,” he added.
Sharma of Panasonic, when asked whether consumers prefer smartphones over TV, told FE, “Temporarily yes, if you analyse some of the large events where thE TV industry was looking at demand getting created, like the cricket world cup. When you look at online streaming, you see millions of people viewing matches on a tablet or mobile phone. So this trend was definitely there. So some hidden loss of TV demand might have happened, but we are unsure of how much is the impact exactly,” he said.
Panasonic’s Sharma said that it is an evolving trend, and with TV companies exploring various options, including price cuts, many would in short to medium term opt for larger screens. He added: “Lets compare the 32-inch screen, it’s a basic product and has been the belly of our industry. In 32-inch, price drop that happened cumulatively in the past three years would be about 15-20%. In the 55-inch TV, price drop is in excess of 50%. So what retailed at about Rs 80,000 is retailing at about Rs 40,000-50,000 depending on the specifications.”
On the way ahead, Sharma said industry is working on cutting prices. For instance, many manufacturers were earlier importing TVs as completely built units (CBUs) because the quantity was not adequate. But, now the quantity is increasing, so they are manufacturing in the country and hence a lower rate of duty.