Big game inspires big HD push

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More than 100 million people in the United States are expected to tune in to the Super Bowl on Sunday, and many of them will be watching the game on brand new big-screen television sets.

 Super Bowl Sunday has become a bonanza for consumer electronics retailers as Americans vie to host the ultimate viewing party for the football game with the biggest, sharpest TV they can find.

 "It's all about the bling bling. It's about who has the biggest screen, the slickest plasma, or the best resolution," said Renee Rollins-Greenberg, a technology recruiter for Leading Edge Consulting Inc. in Marina Del Rey, California.

 "So if you have a Super Bowl party and you have a 35-inch television set, before it even starts, it's determined it's going to be a dud," she said.

 About 2.5 million consumers plan to purchase a new television for Super Bowl Sunday, up from the 1.7 million who said they would buy a set last year, according to a survey by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA).

 Retailers are taking advantage of the demand by pushing promotions for high-definition TV sets. Best Buy Co Inc. offers interest-free financing on all home entertainment purchases of $999 and up, and also guarantees delivery in time for the high-stakes game when the Chicago Bears face off against the Indianapolis Colts in Miami.

 A Best Buy spokesman said that stores were offering longer price guarantees on various high-definition TV models.

 "The Super Bowl is more than just a game, it's a chance for companies to attract new customers by being creative, and often outlandish, in their advertisements," said RAMA Executive Director Mike Gatti in a statement.

 Jackie Foreman, a spokeswoman for Circuit City Stores Inc., said their promotions focused on the Super Bowl, combined with sharply lower pricing.

 "There's no question that big sporting events like the Super Bowl induces consumer interest in higher definition and larger screen TVs. Lots of sports fans are passionate about watching the game," said Foreman.

 She said greater affordability played a big role in the spike in public interest.

 "Flat panels and high-definition TVs cost roughly one-third less than comparable models just last year. That's a huge savings for consumers," she said.

 About 13.7 million flat-panel television sets were shipped to retailers in 2006, up from 5.7 million in 2005, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.
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