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Super Bowl Not Expected To Break TV Sales Records

2/07/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
NEW YORK — Although sometimes anticipated as a key opportunity to sell big-screen and step-up television sets, this year’s Super Bowl XLV was used by manufacturers and retailers primarily as a release valve to off-load built-up inventory from the just-past holiday selling season.

Due to a still-tough economy, the failure of a topmarket team to reach the championship, and the lag following the all-out push to get consumers to upgrade for the digital television transition in late 2009 and early 2010, the excitement level at retail wasn’t above and beyond previous years, according to one display analyst who spoke with TWICE just before Super Bowl weekend.

“Seems like it’s business as usual,” said Tamaryn Pratt, Quixel Research principal. “Super Bowl promotions have traditionally been an opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to move through surplus inventory and get ready for the February/March reset. Don’t get me wrong — they all plan for a little lift, but it is also a nice safety valve.”

Pratt said to expect strong first-quarter sales again this year “because we’ve trained consumers for post holiday sales as much as Black Friday,” she said.

For the most part, set manufacturers left the promoting up to the individual retailers during the week, although a few companies ran scattered non-Super Bowl-specific price promotions on select TVs at the same time.

Sony, for example, offered several TV bargains during the period through its Sony Style retail operations. The Bravia 46-inch HX800-series 3D HDTV was offered for $1,499, $1,000 off the regular price; the Bravia 46-inch EX400-series model was offered at $649, $135 off the regular price; and Sony offered a couple of bundling deals, including an HD810-series Bravia 3D TV, PlayStation3 and 3D starter kit with transmitter, glasses and extras for up to $600 savings.

For those looking for bargains, Pratt said consumers had a few big-screen promos to fall back on, pointing to larger-screen Samsung 7000x- and 9000x-series models that are now less than half the launch price.

As for 3D, “it is still bundlemania — with 3D glasses, BD players, and game consoles,” she said, adding that she wasn’t expecting the Super Bowl, which is not be broadcast live in 3D, to give 3D models much of lift this year.

“I’m willing to bet the ranch that not many folks are clamoring for a 3D upgrade to catch the [3D] flag football game [broadcast on DirecTV’s n3D channel] that is being served up on Sunday,” Pratt quipped before NFL game.

In 2010 3D unit sales for all technologies topped 1.1 million units, according 2010 figures just released by Quixel.

“Most would call it a healthy start considering that there were very few 3D models available until Q4, all of which were premium priced, the economy was less than stellar, and, if we’re honest, most of the content available was for juveniles,” said Pratt. “Interesting and hitting a great demographic were the recent Xgames, which broadcast almost 20 hours of content in 3D TV. I’m very confident that the 3D feature will find its way in 2011.”
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