The average screen size of TVs purchased around the world is expected to creep up to 40 inches by 2016, from 22 inches in 1997, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.
More big screens should create demand for a sharper image and more incentive for TV signal providers to start offering a premier service of ultra-HD channels.
But CEA analysts predicted that the high price tag and low availability means ultra-HD TVs will have a slow start.
Ultra-HD TVs are expected to account for only 1.4 million units sold in the U.S. in 2016, or about 5 percent of the entire market, the CEA said. The market share of all sets in the rest of the world is expected to be smaller.
"It's a very, very limited opportunity," said Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association, which officially kicks off CES Tuesday. "It is going to take some time for this market to gain traction as those price points come down."
Could ultra-HD be a passing fad? Possibly. But one advantage it has over other recent innovations is that most people can appreciate increased clarity on giant screens.
Other aspects of image quality that the industry has touted in recent years, like the color vividness of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) sets, can be a matter of taste. 3-D can even make people sick.
Ultra-HD is "the most buzz-worthy thing TV guys will be talking about," said Paul Gagnon, an analyst with NPD. "It has some potential in the future, but it'll remain a niche, high-end business for a while."