LG OLED TVs are having production issues – here's why that matters

(Image credit: LG)

After an OLED TV in 2020? There may be a problem – as LG Display’s new Gaungzhou factory is still months behind schedule, and yet to get its manufacturing line up and running (via OLED-info).

The Chinese factory was set up to kickstart production of new OLED TVs, including smaller 48-inch OLED models we expect to see on sale this year. Mass production at the factory was planned for October 2019, but has been delayed months past that point already.

IHS Markit, a global information provider based in the UK, has reduced its forecast for LG’s OLED TV production in the coming year, from 5 million to 4.5 million – and that number could reduce further if problems persist.

What’s the issue? We’re yet to hear from LG Display itself on the continued delay, but the new factory is reportedly employing a number of new technologies designed to improve the efficacy of production – compared to the LG factory in Paju, South Korea – and which may be causing issues.

The coronavirus outbreak shouldn’t have a direct knock-on effect – unlike with TCL’s OLED factory in Wuhan – though concerns over containing the disease could restrict transportation of materials, or workers’ ability to travel domestically (via IHS Markit).

All TVs great and small

With new 2020 smart TV ranges starting to be shown off, and LG Display still the only manufacturer producing large-screen OLED panels, any hiccup in the production process could set back the number of sets available worldwide, and lead to shortages in various retailers or territories – or at the very least delay the release dates for various OLED televisions landing this year, most of which have yet to commit to specific days for release.

New OLED TV sizes may be the hardest hit, with 48-inch models expected to release in 2020 for select OLED ranges. 

OLED sets have long been stuck at prohibitively expensive price points, with TV brands seeking to offer budget models too early (such as Hisense) now ditching the technology entirely.

Smaller OLED displays have the potential to drastically cut the expense of these traditionally large-screen TV technologies, and companies backing OLED will need cheaper sets to keep building sales momentum – which reached one million units sold over the last quarter of 2019 (via Business Korea).

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.