U.S. flat-panel TV pricing climbs as retailers, makers push sophisticated features, says IHS iSuppli

The price of flat-panel TVs experienced a sharp spike in the first four months of 2012 due a shift in strategy by brands and retailers towards offering units with more sophisticated features, according to a new report for IHS iSuppli.

The publication, "IHS iSuppli U.S. Price and Specifications TV Tracker report," found that high-end television features, including Internet connectivity and the use of LED backlight technology have pushed up U.S. flat-panel TV pricing by 11.4 percent since December 2011.

The average price for a flat-panel television, including LCD sets, in the United States was $1248 last month, the report said. In March, the average was $1232. A year ago in March, the average price was $1087.

"TV manufacturers and retailers are charging a premium for these features, boosting their pricing and protecting their revenue. This represents a shift in strategy among brands and retailers to hold the line on pricing and encourage consumers to buy more expensive sets," said Tom Morrod, head of television technology for IHS.

Not all TVs experienced a price hike, however. TV models with lower refresh rates and those lacking Internet connectivity saw their prices decline. For instance, pricing slipped 6 percent in April for 40in and 42in sets made by premium brands that used the older LCD technology of cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL), had lower 60Hz refresh rates and that lacked Internet capabilities.

For TVs with desired advanced features, pricing for the same period climbed by 1 percent for the 30in to 39in segment and by 2 percent for both the 40in to 49in as well as for the 50in-and-larger categories.

According to IHS iSuppli, retailers also have played a role by working to convince buyers to move up to a larger-sized TVs or to one using LED-backlit panels.