While relatively new to the US, TCL is a large brand globally. TCL sold 20 million TVs worldwide last year, ranking it among the largest TV brands in the world. That large volume allows TCL to be very efficient which keeps costs low and makes innovation affordable.
We built 20 million TVs last year so we have efficiency when it comes to production, every raw material that goes into a TV from the glass in the panel to the resin in the plastic or the cardboard for the box it goes in – we buy massive quantities of it, so our costs are low. When we create a design for a new TV – it is an expensive process but those costs are spread out across all the TVs that we build for different regions all over the world. There are brands that are big in the US that sell no TVs outside the US, like a popular value brand that sold 7 million TVs last year, but our scale is much larger - globally we sold three times that.
TCL is one of only 3 brands worldwide that are fully vertically integrated – which means that TCL makes every part of the TV themselves and controls the entire production process. This allows TCL to deliver a consistent and high quality user experience. We make our own TV panels (the most expensive part of the TV – it’s essentially the screen) at our state of the art factory that TCL invested $15 Billion dollars to build (more about that below). Then we build the TVs at our own assembly factories and they are then sold at popular retailers under our TCL brand name.
Other brands come to the US market without a panel factory or manufacturing capabilities so they buy panels from a competitor’s panel factory (sometimes ours) and that panel factory will charge them a few percent extra, then they pay another company to build the TV (sometimes us) and that company takes a few more percent, and then they stick a name on the front of it (sometimes their own or sometimes they rent a name from a brand that doesn’t sell TVs in the US anymore and pay them a few percent to use their name). Altogether, they easily could end up giving away 10-20% of the cost of the TV to all these partners that they are buying from, whereas we just have to cover our costs. So if you see our TV for sale for $500 and our competitor is selling a similar one for $600, the cost difference could very well be explained by their suppliers needing to make a little money each step of the process so their costs are much higher.
TCL’s worldwide size makes innovation affordable as it can spread the costs of the new technologies it develops across its large volume. TCL has 35 research centers around the world – including one here in the US in Silicon Valley and a joint venture lab with MIT in Boston – and has made a major commitment to innovation. You are just starting to see some of the exciting technologies coming to the US that TCL has developed (4K Roku TVs) and others have been announced for later this year (X1).
At recent Consumer Electronics Shows, we’ve showed off some other great products including the World’s Largest Curved TV - a 110” 4K Curved TV and several series of HDR TVs featuring Quantum Dot technology that offer stunning color and contrast. Our TCL Roku TV, a partnership with streaming leader Roku, has received huge industry and consumer acclaim and was called “the first Smart TV worth using” by WIRED and named the Best TV of 2014 by PC Mag who also gave it Editor’s Choice Awards in 2014 and 2015.
In 2013, we purchased the naming rights for the world famous TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to show our long-term commitment to the US market and to working with Hollywood. We’re really excited to be a part of supporting the renovation of this historic theatre that has seen an amazing transformation over the last few years and is now the largest IMAX auditorium in the world.
TCL has also partnered with studios on several blockbusters over the last few years including Iron Man 3 (our 110” was in Tony Stark’s living room), X-Men Days of Future Past, and most recently, Mission:Impossible Rogue Nation. For the latest in the Mission:Impossible franchise, TCL products were featured in the movie, we participated in a joint advertising and promotion campaign with Paramount, hosted a pre-screening for TCL owners in the LA area at The TCL Chinese Theatres, and included digital copies of the movie with TCL Roku TVs. We look forward to continuing to partner with Hollywood to support advancements in production and technology like 4K and HDR that continue to improve the viewing experience.
TCL’s Chairman, Li Dongsheng, is the original founder of TCL. He grew up in communist China during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, a period when there was no opportunity for young people. Despite being an excellent student in high school, after graduation Li was sent to work on an agricultural cooperative for three years doing hard manual labor. He labored at a fish farm during the day, secretly read books every night, and hoped that change would come. Fortunately, it did – Deng Xiaoping introduced his Open Door policy in 1977 and re-started the University Entrance examinations. Since the examinations had been stopped by Mao in 1965, there were a dozen years of high school graduates that were waiting for the chance to go to college. With over 5 million people taking that first test and space for less than 5% of them to be accepted, it was the most competitive scholastic test in modern Chinese History. Li was accepted to Hua Nan Polytechnic University and graduated in 1982 with an electrical engineering degree.
He took a job assembling cassette tapes at a factory that had been opened a year earlier with a $600 loan from the Huizhou government. With China’s economy growing rapidly, Li and his colleagues decided to move into telephones and by 1985, he was named CEO of TCL Telecommunication Equipment Company Limited (that’s where the name TCL comes from). By 1989, TCL was one of the biggest phone manufacturers in China and they used that success to launch a joint venture in 1992 to build its first color TV. Twenty two years later, the former cassette tape assembler is the Chairman of a company that had $16 billion in sales last year and you can buy a 55” TCL TV that is 2” thick, practically bezel-less, uses that same amount of power as one 75 watt light bulb, and costs less than $500. On a sidenote – in 1989, the Chinese government banned domestic companies from using English names, but TCL was grandfathered in, making it the only Chinese Brand that Chinese consumers know by an English name.
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