How COVID-19 Has Reinvigorated the Professional Camcorder Market


By Helen Matthews
Futuresource Consulting

COVID-19 has had a lasting impact on the professional camcorder industry. Its initial impact appeared to be negative, with the first half of 2020 seeing a significant downfall in sell-in compared to previous years. Lockdowns, social distancing and event cancellations affected markets across the globe, resulting in the majority of traditional end users halting investment in next generation camcorders, both due to the cancellation and postponement of events, budget limitations due to market uncertainty, as well as competition from pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras. This, combined with the closure of factories in China, the global closure of shipping ports and draught in Taiwan also led to reduced chip production and availability, resulting in a combination of low production and diminished demand.

“Non-Traditional” Verticals Driving Increased Camcorder Demand

However, by the third quarter of 2020, demand for professional video acquisition devices from “non-traditional” verticals started to emerge, as organisations saw longer-term return on investment in video products and remote working solutions. These accelerants of growth include the education sector, government bodies and corporate businesses, as well as an increase in demand from houses of worship. Investment in professional video technologies to livestream and broadcast religious services, which has previously been concentrated in the United States, is now becoming a global phenomenon due to social distancing measures. The demand for video acquisition devices has been further supplemented by an influx of amateur content creators, as those furloughed or unable to work looked into developing new forms of both entertainment and income, contributing to a surge in demand for Wi-Fi and livestream capable cameras.

Market Volume Outpacing Previous Quarterly Totals

As a result, the global professional camcorder market continued to grow quarter on quarter throughout the second half of 2020, peaking in Q4 which was 15% up on Q4 2019 in volume terms, boosted by the release of Sony’s ILME-FX3 and FX6, as well as Canon’s EOS C70. This was a key moment for the pro camcorder product category to exceed the quarterly performance of a pre-pandemic market. The market has since declined quarter on quarter through Q1 and Q2 in 2021, although only in single digits before an uplift of 3% quarter-on-quarter in Q3 2021. All three quarterly volume totals of 2021 have not only achieved year-on-year growth compared to their respective quarters of 2020, but also exceeded total sell-in of the equivalent period in 2019.

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Challenges Remain for Vendors’ Capitalising Demand

Despite this, vendors are still not capitalising on the full extent of end-user demand for professional video acquisition products. Manufacturers have not been able to keep up due to a myriad of factors, primarily the continued impact of global chip shortage and further issues within the shipping industry. Semiconductor production never really recovered from the backlog created by factory disruption by national lockdowns and natural disasters. This, combined with increased demand for laptops, cloud services and other technologies as more people start to work from home, has further exacerbated the chip shortage. As a result, manufacturers cannot produce enough professional camcorders to meet demand, and are building up their own backlog of orders. Moreover, as container availability started to increase after a huge drop at the start of 2020, the Suez canal blockage in Q1 2021 created a further container deficit, further impeding manufacturers’ ability to ship products.

Although the shipping industry has started to adapt to stricter travel restrictions, container prices remain at a premium. Chipsets are predicted to be in shortage until 2023 at the earliest, and we are yet to see how the magnesium alloy shortage affects the industry. Despite this, some vendors are reporting hopes that supply issues will improve moving into Q1 of 2022, as organisations become more adept at managing the challenges of the pandemic.

New Use Cases for Video Acquisition Devices set to Continue

Nevertheless, the pandemic has permanently changed the way organisations in many countries function, with remote working and learning options becoming more commonplace across the globe and houses of worship wishing to retain the followers they have gained from further afield. As a result, new use cases for professional camcorders are here to stay. Combined with the returning demand in more traditional use cases, this will continue to propagate the need for video acquisition devices. The cultural and behavioural changes triggered by COVID-19 has brought with it an expansion of the addressable market for professional video products that will have a lasting benefit on the market for years to come.