Global television shipments declined last year for the first time in more than a decade as demand for flat-panel TVs cooled among consumers, reflecting saturation in the market.

Television shipments in 2012 totaled 238.5 million units, down 6.3% from 254.6 million in 2011, according to a report Monday by IHS iSuppli. Shipments aren't expected to return to 2011 levels until 2015, when they are estimated to reach 253.1 million units, the market research firm said.

Tom Morrod, TV systems analyst at IHS, said the 2012 numbers sounded "the coda for the flat-panel replacement wave that deluged the business throughout the 2000s."

"This event marked a fundamental change in the growth trajectory of the market, with flat or minimal increases in shipments expected in the coming years -- a sharp contrast to the double-digit increases seen prior to 2010," he said. "The decline reflects a fundamental slowdown in the television market, with liquid crystal display television shipments falling for the first time ever. Although television shipments will stabilize in 2013 and growth will return in 2014, developed markets have become saturated with flat-panel televisions."

The TV market had already been undergoing a slowdown before 2012, with shipments rising just 1% in 2011 after increasing 11.6% in 2010. By the beginning of the decade, IHS said, most consumers in developed regions already had replaced their old cathode-ray tube TV sets with flat-panel models, and many buyers in emerging economies had also made the switch.

The market research firm said other factors, including plunging sales in Japan and declining demand in North America and Western Europe, also contributed to the decline.

By television type, LCD shipments declined to 209.8 million units from 211.3 million in 2011. Plasma TV shipments fell to 13.1 million units from 17.9 million. And cathode-ray tube TV shipments fell to 15.5 million, down nearly 40% from 25.2 million. Global cathode-ray tube TV shipments will cease by 2016, IHS said.