Why Panasonic Left the U.S. TV Market

What happened to Panasonic TVs?

Once among the most popular TV makers in the World, Panasonic pulled out of the U.S. TV market in 2016. The brand's TVs are no longer featured on their U.S. website, and they no longer appear at Best Buy, which was once the manufacturer's primary sales outlet.

Why are Panasonic TVs no longer sold in the U.S., and why does the space appear to be tightening?

Despite Panasonic's exit from the market, you may still find some used 2015 and 2016 TVs for purchase through Amazon, as well as some brick-and-mortar retailers.

Illustration of Sony, Samsung, LG, Vizio, Philips Magnavox, and Toshiba TVs in a retail display

Which Major Brands Are Left in the U.S. TV Market

Panasonic's departure from the U.S. TV market means that Sony is the only major Japan-based TV maker selling TVs in the U.S. The current major players, such as LG and Samsung are based in South Korea. Vizio is a U.S. based brand that manufactures overseas, and the rest (TCL, Hisense, Haier) are based in China.

Other familiar TV brand names are now owned (or licensed) and made by China or Taiwan-based TV makers, such as JVC (Amtran), Philips/Magnavox (Funai), RCA (TCL), Sharp (Hisense), and Toshiba (Compal).

What Happened to Panasonic?

Things started going downhill for the TV division when Plasma TV sales began to plummet alongside improvements in LCD TV technology. Lower power consumption, LED Backlighting, fast screen refresh rates, and motion processing, as well as the introduction of 4K Ultra HD, resulted in a sales explosion for LCD TVs. Since Plasma was the claim to fame and the main focus of its TV marketing strategy, these developments did not bode well for the company's sales outlook. Consequently, Panasonic ended Plasma TV production in 2014.

Although LG and Samsung also used to feature Plasma TVs in their product lines (both brands also ended production in late 2014), they did not emphasize Plasma over LCD, so its demise did not have as big of a financial impact.

In addition, with increased competition from LG, Samsung, and the aggressive entry of China-based TV makers, Panasonic found itself in a corner as consumers failed to warm to the company's own LCD TV product lines, even though the sets were definitely deserving of consideration.

Despite obstacles, the company continued to make efforts to stay in the market. In 2015 and early 2016, it displayed and delivered budget-priced 4K Ultra HD LCD TVs and hinted at its own OLED TV product line. If this plan had continued, the move would have made it one of the only TV makers, along with LG and Sony, to market OLED TVs in the U.S. Unfortunately, it reversed course on both OLED and LED/LCD. As a result, Panasonic TVs (including OLED) are only available in select markets outside of the U.S.

What Panasonic Still Sells in the U.S.

While Panasonic no longer offers TVs for U.S. customers, it still has a solid presence in several key product categories. Those markets include Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc players, headphones, and compact audio systems. The company has also resurrected its high-end Technics audio brand.

It's also a strong competitor in digital imaging (cameras/camcorders), small kitchen appliances, and personal care product categories, as well as business-to-business (B2B0 and Industrial markets.

Possible Panasonic TV Comeback?

Despite all of Panasonic's misfortunes, there may be a silver lining for brand fans and U.S. consumers. Whether it re-enters the U.S. TV market depends a lot on whether its 4K Ultra HD and OLED TVs sell well in Canada.

However, if past and current trends are any indications, having left, it may be very difficult for Panasonic to regain a foothold in the U.S. market, as competition from U.S. based Vizio, Korea, and China-based TV makers is only likely to intensify.

The Bottom Line

If you are a real Panasonic fan, and you live in a northern U.S. border State, you may be able to go to Canada and purchase one. However, once you cross the border with your TV, Canadian warranties are no longer valid.

It is also important to note that Panasonic's Canada eStore will not ship to U.S. addresses.

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