Why Are TCL TVs So Cheap? (Explained)

TCL TVs are known for being reliable despite their cheap prices. But why are they so affordable? In this article, I’ll explain some of the reasons why TCL TVs are so cheap.

A TCL TV showing the Call of Duty Vanguard game on-screen.

1. TCL makes its own TV components

A big reason why TCL TVs are so cheap is that TCL is a world-leading panel supplier.

They don’t have middlemen “upcharging” them for parts as they make many of their own. TCL gets most LCD TV panels from its company, CSOT, which is a top panel maker.

In fact, their newest panel factory is huge, covering over 11 million ft². That’s nearly 260 acres. TCL also molds its own cabinets, produces its own boards, and even its own speaker drivers.

TCL can cut costs in TV making. Some brands, like Sony and Samsung, buy panels instead of making their own. TCL’s control over its production lets the company save money for you.

This is one of the reasons why TCL TVs are very cheap.

2. TCL is in an expansion phase

Brands like Samsung, Sony, and LG are already known for quality.

Brands like TCL, Vizio, and Hisense are new. They focus on getting more customers now, not just on profits. To attract buyers, these new brands accept lower profits.

3. TCL positions itself as a budget brand

Brands often position themselves by showing how they’re different from competitors. For TCL, it’s clear they aim to be seen as a “budget TV” brand.

People often say you pay for the brand name.

For instance, Sony has always charged more because of its brand, just like Polo does for shirts and Bose for audio. TCL wants to be an affordable choice.

According to CNBC, in 2021, about 50% of the U.S. population was middle class. As a budget TV brand, TCL attracts more buyers and has fewer rivals than giants like Samsung and Sony.

4. TCL keeps things simple

By pricing their TVs lower, they reduce the quality of accessories and skip some features. For example, the remotes might be cheaper, and the processors might be less powerful.

I’ve bought several TCL TVs in my life. Something worth observing is the difference in the quality of the remote control and the responsiveness of the user interface (UI).

My TCL Roku TV has worked well for nearly 2 years. However, I sometimes notice slowdowns in the Roku interface. The slowdown gets better with a firmware update.

I personally don’t mind these small differences in quality, but if you’re someone who dislikes slow or laggy menus, you’d prefer a pricier TV.

5. Quality control is not as strict as bigger brands

Since TCL aims for budget pricing, its quality control might not be as strict as high-priced TV brands. For instance, if Samsung finds 200 out of 2,000 TVs defective, TCL might only flag 100 in a similar batch.

So, compared to Samsung, TCL might sell an extra 100 TVs from such a batch.

Don’t get me wrong. TCL TVs are great, especially the 6-Series, which is great for gaming. However, with TCL, there’s a higher chance of getting a defective unit than with pricier brands.

6. Efficient production thanks to multi-billion investments

TCL owns the world’s largest appliance factory, along with many other large manufacturing facilities. The scale of their operations expanded with multi-billion dollar investments.

To date, TCL has invested over $30 billion in state-of-the-art facilities where they can create innovative display technologies and develop new production methods for phones and TVs.

In 2022 alone, TCL produced over 40 million phones, nearly 10 million air conditioners, and more than 30 million TVs globally.

Their extensive production was enabled by these investments.

Their growth is set to continue. From their initial investments, TCL can adopt more efficient production methods, allowing them to produce even more TVs.

By producing TVs at lower costs, they can sell them at competitive prices. With the increased revenue, they can reinvest in improving their facilities.

This cycle of growth and reinvestment continues.

7. TCL makes money after you take the TV home

TV prices have dropped over the years because manufacturers have found other ways to profit after you purchase their products. They earn money from the data they collect once you start using the TV.

Instead of relying solely on the revenue from physical TV sales, companies like TCL gather information on your viewing patterns to sell to advertisers.

Today, most TVs on the market are smart TVs. TCL produces both smart and traditional TVs. Their smart models support platforms like Roku TV and Smart Google TV.

Smart TVs can stream content from services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, and they can also gather data on your viewing habits, such as which shows you watch and how often.

TCL provides this data to advertisers, enabling precise targeting based on viewers’ interests. This data collection is generally not linked to personal details.

Yet, this practice contributes to the lower prices of TCL TVs. TV manufacturers can afford to lower prices, knowing their main profit comes when you use the TV at home.

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