rAVe: Sales Of Commercial Flat Panels Grow 9 Percent In Past Year

November 11, 2011 by guest author, rAVe Publications

Sales of large (26”+) flat panel displays made for commercial applications, such as digital signage, continue to increase according to the latest DisplaySearch Monthly Large Format Commercial Displays Sell Through Report.

“In contrast to slowing sales of flat panel TVs for at-home consumer enjoyment, monthly sell-through of FPDs designed specifically for commercial applications are up through the first three quarters of 2011, with sell-through 9 percent ahead of the same period last year,” noted Chris Connery, DisplaySearch Vice President of PC and Large Format Commercial Displays.

Figure 1: Sales of Large (26”+) Commercial-Grade LCD and Plasma Displays through U.S. Commercial Distribution Channels


Typical applications for these self-defined, commercial-grade displays are digital signage applications like way-finding, electronic menu boards, flight-information displays, boardroom displays and classroom displays. While the sale of commercial-grade flat panels in out-of-home (OOH) environments is typically the only benchmark used to gauge the digital inventory of digital signage in which advertisers can sell advertising space, further analysis shows that many products that might have been originally developed just for in-home TV watching are also being used in commercial environments for digital signage.

While some of the surveyed commercial distributors are used for TVs that will eventually flow through consumer outlets and then into consumer homes, a good portion of these TVs are used in commercial deployments. “Shipments of TVs through commercial channels are five to six times greater than large commercial-grade displays, but the growth has really been in pure commercial-grade products,” notes Connery. The percentage of TVs shipped commercially that end up in commercial installations varies by distributor and by season, with IT distribution channels sometimes leveraged more in Q4 to help with logistics management for smaller, consumer-oriented retailers. Most TVs shipped through distribution in Q1-Q3 end up in commercial installations, thus showing that the market for commercial-use displays is much larger than what product specifications alone can determine.

Due to the project-oriented nature of the digital signage business, market shares can vary greatly from month to month if a large deployment, such as a national convenience store retrofit, occurs in a given period. While some manufacturers clearly distinguish between commercial-grade displays and consumer-TVs, others blur the lines through hybrid displays or products called “commercial-TVs” that are similar to consumer-TVs except for the model number and distribution channel. For example, while Sony has a small lineup of commercial-grade professional displays, most of the Sony-branded products sold into commercial channels are actually part of its consumer-TV line-up. Conversely, NEC is almost exclusively a commercial brand. Brands like Samsung, Sharp, Panasonic and LG have strong portfolios of commercial-grade displays as well as TVs, both of which are available through commercial distribution.

Table 1: September 2011 US IT/AV Distributor/Reseller FPD Brand Market Share by Type


The purchase of TVs for commercial usage typically comes through commercial distributors and resellers, such as ALMO, Avnet, Best Buy for Business, CDW, Insight, Ingram Micro, SED, Synnex, Tech Data, Tiger Direct, Zones and several other IT/AV resellers and distributors. The addition of leading U.S. commercial distributor ALMO to the DisplaySearch Monthly Large Format Commercial Displays Sell Through Report is effective with the October edition.

The Monthly Large Format Commercial Displays Sell Through Report captures and analyzes U.S. commercial sell-through data from both AV and IT reseller and distributor channels for large-format LCD and PDP displays (>26″). Leveraging information and expertise from both DisplaySearch and parent company The NPD Group, the report covers markets such as digital signage, corporate conference rooms, public transportation and more.

In an effort to continue to add visibility to this market segment, DisplaySearch has added ALMO, a leading distributor, to its POS tracking services. Along with other changes to its reseller and distributor mix of POS reports, DisplaySearch, through combined efforts with NPD, has been able to enhance visibility to commercial-only sales channels by adding new commercial outlets and by incorporating historical data so that proper Y/Y comparisons can be made without spikes in data when new companies join.

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