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Spotlight on Home Theater

Panasonic Plasma TV Production Ending: Reports Nikkei

As part of a three-year downsizing effort of its TV business, Panasonic is thinking about leaving the plasma TV business.

Panasonic Plasma TVs

Panasonic’s new ZT line of plasma TVs has not yet started shipping to dealers.

Say it ain’t so. Panasonic is stopping plasma TV production, according to the Nikkei newspaper (via Reuters).

This is terrible news for home theater enthusiasts.

According to Nikkei, Panasonic is engaging in a three-year downsizing plan, beginning next fiscal year, selling off assets and real estate. The report says Panasonic will end plasma production at its Amagaskai plant next year and is already halting development on new plasma TVs.

This news comes just a few months after Panasonic unveiled at CES 203 a new line of high-performance plasma TVs that many people thought were among the best-looking video displays at the show. Panasonic’s ZT line, which has yet to ship to retailers, offered plasma performance comparable to Pioneer’s venerated Kuro TVs. While plasma TVs lack some of the sex appeal of newer OLED technology, the ZT line would presumably be more affordable and thus more available to a wider audience.

For several years now, Panasonic has been carrying the banner of plasma TV, making them thinner, lighter, and better performing every year. In addition, on a dollar-per-inch basis, plasma is a better value than most LED LCD TVs. I called Panasonic’s ST line of plasmas the best value in the TV market in 2012.

Both Samsung and LG also produce plasma. But for both of those companies, LCD has been their dominate display technology. Not so for Panasonic, though it too offers LCDs.

The TV business has not been good to Panasonic lately. “Panasonic’s TV business, which generated sales of more than 1 trillion yen ($10.5 billion) during the peak in 2009/2010, is seen earning less than half of that amount in 2015/2016, the newspaper said without citing any sources,” says the report.

And here’s more bad news: according to Bloomberg, Panasonic’s stock rose the highest it’s been in six weeks immediately after the plasma news broke. Will Panasonic listen to its stockholders more than its customers? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Article Topics

News · Displays · TVs · Home Theater · Panasonic · All topics

About the Author

Grant Clauser
Grant Clauser is a technology editor, covering home electronics for more than 10 years for such publications as Electronic House and Dealerscope. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore.

7 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by John Nemesh  on  03/18  at  03:34 PM

I am wondering how much they will be missed, considering that they have been selling TVs direct to the end user at below wholesale cost straight from their own website with free shipping!  I know they have the best performance, but Samsung’s plasmas have been catching up rather quickly.  Let’s hear from the gallery here…any dealers been successful (and profitable) with Panasonic over the past year?

Posted by John Williams  on  03/18  at  05:10 PM

Yes I have. The top of the line VT series from Panasonic was a protected line, not to be sold anywhere below MSRP. And it wasn’t.
It also offered the highest performance - better than anything else on the market right now.
Samsung…. you can have that POS. Those TV’s have so many known problems. I got burned many years ago from all the bad caps in the power supply. I haven’t seen their reliability improve much. I know Samsung is a very popular TV, I just can’t understand why a CI dealers would put themselves thru that BS with Samsung. And risk their reputation on such a shotty brand.

Posted by Flip  on  03/19  at  08:51 AM

I really consider this sad news and I see it as the first step to the end of an era. How long before LG & Samsung follow suit?

I still even today consider PLASMA heads above ANY LED out there, and the Panasonic line was a personal favourite for me.

Oh well.

Posted by MrSatyre  on  03/19  at  12:19 PM

If Pioneer were still in the FPD biz, you can rest assured that they would be working on OLED panels (they co-developed the technology in the first place, and have always espoused its virtues over both LCD and PDP). So, I don’t see a “gradual” slow down in PDP production from Panasonic to be a tragedy at all. The resulting (and more affordable) OLED displays from the Pana/Sony joint venture will be hands down preferable to the best PDPs—-and certainly crush any LCDs out there.

Posted by davenport  on  03/19  at  01:53 PM

I am a big fan of the VT series; great picture, nice size and a polished product.  I’m not happy to see that line disappear. Their only misstep was removing RS-232 and not providing more sizes beyond 55 and 65 which clearly shows they have a disconnect understanding how to keep their intended custom installer market happy. Manufacturer’s need to stop selling goods on their websites below the MSRP they determined.  Will the TV industry hurry up and hit the rock bottom??

Posted by Jonathan  on  03/20  at  04:08 PM

I dislike this

Posted by jhamill1  on  03/22  at  09:58 AM

Panasonic has no one to blame but themselves for this. They were THE party who initiated the first flat panel price wars, which eventually lowered customers’ expectations and allowed garbage resellers like Vizio to enter the market.

Thankfully, a handful of models from other manufacturers are still pretty well protected from internet and deep discount big box. Yes, plasma generally has a superior image to LED. As long as LG and Samsung are making quality PDP, we’ll circle our wagons.

But we also recognize that today’s LED TVs have their merits compared to displays from many years past. There is plenty of profitable sunshine in our industry.

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