Worldwide TV Shipments Fall

YouTube, Netflix may be part of the reason for the fall.

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Just call it the YouTube effect, or Netflix if you prefer. A struggling economy probably doesn't help either.

For the first time since 2004, the worldwide shipment of televisions fell in 2011. There were a total of 247.7 million boob tubes shipped across the globe last year, down 0.3 percent since 2010.

"The causes of slow demand in 2011 were complex, and although LCD TV showed growth, results were well below industry expectations," Paul Gagnon, director of North America TV research for DisplaySearch, told The Los Angeles Times.

He said in part the low shipment levels were caused by excessive inventory levels early in the year in both the U.S. and European markets.

Also a decrease in demand in Japan after that country cut government subsidies that almost encouraged switching out digital boxes.

There is also the growing phenomenon of people cutting the cable and satellite chord and going to the web and hand held devices for cheaper, or often free, entertainment.

Cable and satellite subscriptions are down across the country.

Comcast (this publication's parent company) lost 238,000 television subscribers in the second quarter of 2011 alone, while Time Warner Cable lost 130,000, Dish Network lost 135,000.

Television consumers searching for cheaper alternatives during economically difficult times was cited as one of the reasons people were cutting the chord.

The industry has taken notice and several rivals have come out to compete with the likes of Netflix, including from Amazon, Comcast and Hulu.

YouTube has started investing heavily in producing original content and trying to encourage media companies to think of the Google-owned video-sharing site as a viable destination to distribute original content.

Google’s Vice President for Global Content Partnerships Robert Kyncl said at CES this year that while the industry worries about what Apple or his company is working to do to shape the future of television, that the next wave is already staring everyone in the face: It's called web television.

The consumer might have just figured that out.

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