Sound & Vision: TCL's 98-inch TVs are going to ruffle some feathers

OPINION: One of 2023’s TV biggest trends is the emergence of the super-sized screen.

You may think you couldn’t fit a TV of 70+ inches into your home but there are others who clearly can, and it’s a trend that’s catching fire – TVs haven’t just got bigger, they’ve become enormous.

Bigger screens are viewed as a premium segment of the market for expansion. TV brands don’t like to sell anything on the cheap but that clashes with most of the buying market who don’t like to spend huge amount. TVs are an expensive business, and big-sized screens hold appeal precisely because they carry a premium price tag.

And so screens from 75-inches upwards have become the new battleground. There are 77- and 83-inch OLEDs (LG sells a 98-inch model). Samsung has been pushing its 98-inch Q80C, while the likes of TCL and Hisense deal in large screens, with the latter offering a 100-inch 4K TV in some markets.

The large-size screen segment of the TV market is one that’s on the up. With 8K experiencing a downturn, and new technologies such as MLA OLED and QD-OLED still finding their way, it does not help TV brands that mid-range and below models are discounted – often by huge amounts.

But what if I said you could buy a 98-inch TV for £2000 / €2000? A TV cheaper than the 55-inch Sony A95L QD-OLED and the same price as Panasonic’s award-winning MZ2000 at the time of writing. TCL is selling exactly that.

I went to TCL’s ‘Experts Meet Experts’ event in Warsaw to get the lowdown on the 98-inch P745, C805, C955, and X955 screens.

TCL Experts meet Experts
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

I only spent a decent amount of time with the first two and you can read my impressions of those models in the coming weeks, but of particular interest is the P745. It is the cheapest at £2000 and blows away the idea with a new market that you start expensive and eventually become affordable. Instead, TCL is offering an ‘entry-level’ option, followed by ‘mid-range’ and more expensive step-up options, giving the consumer choice.

But this aggressive approach potentially threatens to upend the 98-inch market before it’s taken off. Given a choice, most will likely pick the P745 because of its price. You only have to look to Black Friday 2023 as an example of what drives consumers’ interest – affordable TVs that have had further reductions. Anything north of £1000 seems to spark apathy.

So there is potential for this blow back in TCL’s face, but market share and ownership are what TCL want. To call themselves market leaders in large-screen TVs will feed back into marketing and general public perception. No longer an upstart but an established name leading the pack.

TCL P745 No Time to Die
TCL 98-inch P745

The likes of Samsung won’t be happy – they’re being dragged to a brawl in a mud pit because of the aggressive pricing. The dilemma is that TV brands roll up their sleeves and get messy, or cede a controlling interest. Part of the reason Samsung went hard on 8K is that by being the market leader they could shape the market, have others follow their lead, and dictate the pricing.

Whether TCL can do the same or fall into the hole Samsung found with 8K TVs remains to be seen, but there’s no doubting after the year they’ve had that they are an emerging force. They’ve produced some impressive screens, and their aggressive pricing must be be giving Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and even Hisense headaches.

TCL is the chief TV disruptor of 2023. The horse has bolted, and given TCL’s forward momentum, some recognisable names in TV market may find it hard to catch up.