With the increasing demand of new television technologies, high-end TV market in Nepal is expanding at a rapid pace. Fuelled by the rise of tech-savvy young population, rising per capita income and falling prices of TV sets in the recent years, LED, Smart, 3D and Ultra-High Definition TVs have eventually become a must-have for Nepali consumers who are looking to enhance their viewing experience.
--By Sanjeev Sharma
The 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup fever has already grasped Nepal and the television business in the country is witnessing a high-time. The sales of LED, Smart, 3D, Ultra high-definition (UHD) and other high-end TVs have risen. From the general viewers to the big corporates, cricket lovers are enjoying one of the most anticipated international sporting event of this year on their TV sets. Pashupati Murarka, Managing Director of Murarka Organisation, a leading Nepali business conglomerate, is among those who have been closely following the ODI tournaments on his large-screen television. Murarka, a keen cricket enthusiast, is watching the major global cricketing event on his 42-inch Samsung LED Smart TV. "This TV is perfect for watching cricket and other sporting fixtures," says Murarka who is also the Senior Vice-President of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI). According to him, the TV's large display along with its superior picture quality and smart functions give him a special viewing experience.
Binayak Shah, the Managing Director of Airport Hotel and General Secretary of the Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), also shares his world cup cricket viewing experience on his 60-inch Sony Bravia Smart LED TV. Shah, who is a fan of Nepali national cricket team and finds time to watch the matches even in his busy schedule, says," The TV's high-definition display provides excellent picture quality. I like its smart features too."
The sales of Smart LED and other high-end TVs certainly go up during major global sporting events. However, the popularity of LED and other high-end TV sets have been soaring in the recent years. The domestic market has been swarmed by almost all major global TV brands. According to Binil R Bajracharya, General Manager at Nepa Hima Trade Link, the authorised distributor of Sony TVs in Nepal, sales growth of LED and other high-end TVs has reached around 30 per cent annually. "The size of Nepal’s television market is at around Rs 5-6 billion a year," says Bajracharya. He opines that with the rapid increase of the tech-savvy Nepali population in the past few years, the television viewing expectations of viewers have also changed. "The new breeds of television are delivering unique viewing experiences to them," Bajracharya notes.
Following the international market trend, TV sales in Nepal during the major global sporting tournaments of football and cricket are seen comparatively higher. However, at other times too, the demand of new generation TVs is seen increasing. Apart from the sporting extravaganzas, TV sales soar in the time of festivals and new year in particular.
Rising Demand, Falling prices
With almost all major global brands exiting from CRT/LCD television production, the Nepali market is observing a sharp rise in the demand of LED, smart, 3D and other high-end TVs in recent years. The customers' shift from CRT/LCD technologies to LEDs has been swift over the past few years. Importers put forward a couple of reasons for this. "The rise in the income of Nepali consumers is the major factor contributing to this shift," observes Aayush Kedia, Manager of Sales and Marketing at Navin Distributors, the authorised distributor for Hisense TVs in Nepal.
According to Kedia, falling prices of LED TVs are fuelling the demand for high-end televisions in the Nepali market. Sanjay Rajbhandary, Deputy General Manager at CG Electronics, the authorised distributor for LG, Toshiba and TCL televisions in Nepal, sees the growing aspiration for a better lifestyle among the huge Nepali young consumer base and burgeoning middle-class as the prime factor for the rising demand of high-end TVs. " It is a global phenomenon that people are shifting to Smart 3D and other high-end TVs and Nepal is no exception," he opines.
The falling prices have enabled many Nepali buyers to own high-end television technologies. In 2010-11, when LED TVs were just introduced to the Nepali market, the high prices barred many prospective buyers to own such televisions. However, as the time passed by and the LED technology preceded over the older technologies, the downward trend in prices let consumers to buy the new generation TVs. Currently, customers can buy TVs starting from Rs 11,500 to up to Rs 1 million in the Nepali market. The prices of LED and high-end TVs vary based on the size, features and functions they offer. Targeted customers of LED and high-end TVs are middle and high-income people, according to distributors.
Apart from the falling prices, the other major reason for the rise of LED televisions is their high energy efficiency. Despite being laden with modern features, LED TVs consume significantly less amount of power than the CRTs. Various technical studies suggest that these TVs consume up to 60 per cent less electricity than the older televisions. "LED TVs are energy-efficient and thus have become popular in the Nepali market which has been facing power-cuts for the last five-six years," says Kedia. He adds, "Viewers can enjoy their favourite TV programmes even through normal home inverters."
Though no official study or survey has been conducted on the growth of LED and high-end TVs in Nepal, majority of dealers assume the rate to be in between 20-30 per cent in the domestic market. "We think the annual growth rate of LED and other high-end TVs in the market is 20-30 per cent," says Shahanawaz Khan, Business Head (Nepal) at Universal Electrocom, the authorised dealer for Sharp televisions for Nepal. Dinesh Ratna Bajracharya, Manager at Nepal General Marketing, the authorised distributor of Philips TVs in Nepal predicts the number of television sets sold in the country annually at 7,000.
A Unique Viewing Experience
Viewers' attraction towards the LEDs and other high-end TVs are driven by the viewing experience. Be it for watching normal television programmes, movies or gaming, the new breed of TVs offer detailed picture quality compared to their predecessors, namely the CRTs and LCDs. Evolved from LCDs, LED TVs are amazingly rich in picture quality and viewing comfort. Compared to CRTs/LCDs, TVs with LED displays (normal LED, Smart, 3D and 4K) are better in color saturation with higher contrast ratio, resolution and refresh rates. This makes the quality of picture sharp and crisp in the LED TVs. Normal LED TVs come with display resolution of 1280 X 720 pixels (720p) whereas; full HD TVs have resolution of 1980 X 1280 pixels (1080p). Technically, higher resolution translates into better picture clarity.
The latest in the line of high-end television sets are the UHD or 4K TVs which have the resolution four times than that of the full HD display. Curved OLED and 4K Ultra HD TVs from LG, Samsung HU9000 UHD 4K series, Sony Bravia 4K TVs, Konka KDL65SX780 series, which were introduced last year in the Nepali market, along with the 65 inch Hisense UHD Curved TV, launched in January 2015, have gained popularity among the viewers who have the capacity to spend significant amount of money to quench their thirst of ultimate viewing experience. The Sharp Aquos Q+ series have also been received warmly by the Nepali customers for its near 4K picture quality and advanced features. Also, it is the improved sound quality of such TVs that gives the viewers an enhanced audio experience.
TVs Becoming Smarter
Gone are the days of ‘idiot boxes’ when the viewers had to sit dully in front of their TV screens to watch television programmes. They can now interact with their TVs either via the remote controller or by activating gesture command system. By just waving their hands or fingers in front of their Smart TVs or through the voice control, viewers are able to operate televisions like never before. TVs now-a-days have become smarter like other gadgets such as the smartphones and tablets. Equipped with fast processors alongside ample on-board storage and RAM, smart televisions allow users to do much more than watching cable or satellite TV programmes. One can even pause or record the broadcast contents to watch them later in these TVs. Smart televisions are in fact Internet-enabled TVs, which run on operating systems such as the Android or Web Os and come equipped with web browsers and app stores. Smart televisions available in the market connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cables. LED smart TVs are preloaded with apps of popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter along with the widely used video sharing site YouTube.
The presence of HDMI ports in LED smart TVs is also another useful feature that let users to connect devices including video projectors, digital audio devices and computer monitors via an HDMI cable. Likewise, users can now connect a vast array of USB devices such as flash drives, external hard disk drives, optical drives, cameras, USB keyboards and speakers directly to the television sets equipped with USB ports to transfer data for various purposes. Due to these technological developments, viewers have now found their TV sets as high-end multimedia devices.
The Multi-Dimensional 3D TVs
3D TVs are increasingly becoming must-haves for tech-savvy viewers. With most of the major TV brands producing these televisions now-a-days, viewers are able to enjoy the thrill and excitement of three-dimensional videos. If aligned properly with a high-end sound system and positioned in a right manner for effective viewing, the large-sized televisions can change the rooms of viewers into a home theater. While the downside of buying 3D LED TV is the fact that the choice of 3D contents may be limited, these high-end televisions provide the finest viewing experience to viewers. LG Cinema 3D, Sony Bravia 3D, Samsung UHD S9 series and Konka 712 series Smart 3D are some of the notable 3D TVs that have gained popularity among Nepali viewers.
Bigger is Better
Over the past few years, the global technology market has been swarmed with large sized devices and, television is no exception to it. The comfort the big screen TVs offer compared to small sized ones is unparallel, viewers say. TVs with larger screens are getting more and more popular among Nepali viewers. According to traders, TVs ranging between 32-42 inches have become bestsellers in the market. In the Nepali market, TVs of sizes 20-80 inches are available. The development of large sized televisions has hit a milestone with the introduction of curved TVs in recent years. The curved ultra-high definition TVs with OLED screens which use sophisticated technologies are packed with the most premium features, functions and hardware to ensure viewing excellence. Besides, the sleek and attractive design of these expensive TVs offers a style statement that makes them a center piece of décor in the rooms of viewers.
Like other consumer electronics and gadgets, strong competition has clutched the TV market. Samsung, LG, Sony, Sharp, Panasonic, Toshiba, TCL, Philips, Hisense, Konka, Videocon, Yasuda and Skyworth are the major brands in Nepal that are fiercely contesting to grab a slice of market share. During the major global sporting events and festive seasons, Nepali dealers announce attractive schemes to lure the customers, claiming their TVs to be the best. The domestic TV market, during the ongoing cricket world cup, is galore with various market offerings as the distributors are seen aggressively slashing the prices and offering gift hampers to the buyers.
With the entry of more new players over the past few years, the growing market competition has been one of the key factors causing the decline of TV prices. While the price decline is definitely good for customers, it has raised concerns regarding the market stability in the long-term. However, traders see the the price decline as a common market phenomenon. "It is obvious that with the entry of new models and brands into the market, the TV prices keep fluctuating," opines Dinesh Ratna Bajracharya of Nepal General Marketing.
Traders are also becoming convinced that TV prices have apparently found stability. "I think TV prices have found the bottom in the Nepali market. From here, the prices won't go down further as prices in the international market have stabilized," says Aayush Kedia of Navin Distributors. He adds, "Now the competition will be in terms of features, brand visibility and after-sales services."
The Growing Grey Market Concern
Despite the booming business, selling of unauthorised products like other electronic items has become a major issue of concern in the Nepali TV market. "While grey markets may still be of a small size of the entire market, due to lower transaction costs across the globe, product harmonization, widespread Internet, cross-border commerce, among other factors, the grey market has the potential to become a real issue in the near future," says Shahanawaz Khan of Universal Electrocom.
The trading of grey products which has been happening for a long time has spiked recently. Distributors blame the government policy for the rise of grey trading of television sets. Implemented last year, the policy allows Nepalis who have stayed outside the country for a period of at least six months to bring TVs up to 32 inches without paying the customs duty. According to the distributors, while the policy benefits the migrant workers and others returning home, many of the TVs they bring with them actually end up in the local market. This has hampered the authorised market where the 32-inch size category is regarded as the bestseller. "This has started an unethical competition in the market," says Kedia. The authorised importers ask the government to take necessary steps to control the illegal trading of TVs. "The government should make sure that those TVs are not resold in the local market," stresses Kedia.