Worldwide sales of Plasma televisions hit 19.1 million units in 2010, up from 14.8 million units in 2009 according to recent report from DisplaySearch.

The research firm says every quarter of 2010 saw sales increases over the same quarter of 2009. The results surprised researchers who believed the loss of several plasma manufacturers in 2009 and the renewed threat from LCD TVs with LED backlighting would put a dent in sales.

Plasma TVs were in demand thanks to being the most affordable large flat panel TVs for many consumers and thanks to the strong industry push for 3D TV which led many reviewers and consumers to conclude that plasma TV had superior overall performance compared to LCD TV.

“While 3D has not played a big role in the growth of plasma shipments, it has helped to support plasma TV in the competition with LCD TV,” noted Ken Park, DisplaySearch Senior Analyst for Korea TV Market Research.

In the final quarter of 2010, sales were up 9% from the same quarter a year earlier, to 5.2 million units. Displaysearch said sales could have been even higher had the major plasma makers not already been operating at maximum capacity.

The top plasma TV panel suppliers in 2010 on a unit basis were Panasonic with a 40.7% market share, followed by Samsung (33.7% market share), LGE (23.3%) and Chinese newcomer COC (2.2%).

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