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Playoff TV Sales Show Mixed Results

2/13/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — For many, Super Bowl XLVI proved
to be a successful selling event for the struggling industry
as manufacturer- and retailer-driven promotions
offered big-screen bargains that almost rivaled the
aggressive promotions of the just-passed holidays,
analysts and vendors said.

But despite a number of significant bargains, results
were mixed among brands and retail accounts in the
weeks immediately prior to Super Bowl week.

“The period right before the Super Bowl is the perfect
time for both retailers and consumers in the TV
space, with heavy discounts making television sets
more affordable, resulting in a boost in sales,” said Tom
Morrod, head of TV technology at IHS Screen Digest.
“Because of the decline in TV prices, consumers have
been able to replace their 32-inch TVs with 40-inchand-
larger sets that include advanced features, such
as FullHD, 120Hz and even Internet capability.”

Where the 2011 holiday selling season generated
tonnage in impulse buys of small- and mid-screen-size
TVs, the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl period a few
weeks later generally generates more volume in bigscreen
business, IHS said, when in early 2012, “holiday
bonuses and tax returns” are fresh in the minds of
many Americans.

MarketStar, an analyst of outsourced sales and marketing
trends, reported that during the playoff weeks
this year, “TV sales for one major retailer in 2011 increased
by 15.2 percent, in comparison to average
daily sales, where people are buying larger TVs and
spending on average more money on TVs during the
Super Bowl.”

“But compared with last year’s playoffs, fewer large TVs are being sold this year, while midsized TV”
sales grow.

MarketStar found that in playoff weeks sales
of 32-inch sets were up 4.5 percent (representing
28.4 percent of all TV sales) and 37- to
45-inch sets were up 4.1 percent (representing
25.7 percent of sales), while sales of 46-
to 54-inch screen sizes dropped 4.8 percent
(representing 15.3 percent of sales), 55-inch
sizes dropped 1.7 percent (representing 11.2
percent of sales) and small TVs (less than 32
inches) dropped 3.1 percent (representing
18.4 percent of sales).

Tamaryn Pratt, Quixel Research principal, said
sales results among TV manufacturers was mixed
in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl week.

“The run-up was not great for several manufacturers
the week prior [to Super Bowl week],”
Pratt told TWICE. “One in particular said they
were trying to sell step products at 46 and 55
inches and it was sluggish the Monday before”
the big game.

MarketStar said top markets for sales activity
during the playoff weeks included the following:
Boynton Beach, Naples, St. Petersburg, Aventura,
Fort Myers and Sarasota, Fla.; Concord
Pike, Del.; Galleria and Corpus Christi, Texas;
Salem, N.H.; Albany, Brooklyn and Long Island
City, N.Y.; Emeryville, San Francisco, Santa
Rosa and West Hollywood, Calif.; Nashua,
N.H.; Greensboro, N.C.; and St. Matthews, Ky.

Ben Arnold, NPD Group industry analyst,
said Super Bowl week generated a carryover in
trends “both in consumers wanting to upgrade their primary
displays and in consumers looking to get more TV
for their dollar.”

Arnold said NPD’s point-of-sales data was not ready for
the Super Bowl week as this went to press, but the firm
estimated sales to be “up consistent with last year — probably
10 to 15 percent above Super Bowl week 2011, and
with a lot of activity in the 50-inch-and-up screens.”

Among some of the more aggressive promotions over
the pre-Super Bowl weeks, according to IHS’s Morrod,
was Walmart’s Vizio 42-inch 1080p/60Hz LCD TVs at
$448 and $50 more for 120Hz version, and Best Buy’s
premium-featured TVs at sizes ranging from 46 to 70 inches
from Samsung, Panasonic and Sharp.

Morrod said the big-box retailer discounted TV prices
on some models from those leading brands by 30 to 40
percent.

“Larger screen sizes unquestionably are being promoted
harder than ever before as retailers hope to cash in on
the sales of higher-priced items and the increasing availability
of 50-inch sets,” he offered.

Among the more successful brands reporting in were
the following:

LG Electronics’ home A/V entertainment senior VP Jay
Vandenbree told TWICE that LG’s business vs. the prior
year “was up double digits” during the Super Bowl sales
period, especially in larger screen sizes 47 and 55 inches
and in LED product. He said LG didn’t have a lot of closeout
product in the marketplace because it “had managed
dealers’ inventory pretty tightly, and we saw a lot of the aggressive
promotions out at retail and watched that. Frankly,
we found customers migrated to the things we had been
talking about all year, and that’s a great indication that consumers
are still interested in quality.”

Vandenbree said that LG’s Cinema3D and smart-TV feature
sets resonated with consumers, despite the absence
of 3D coverage and no real promoting around Super Bowlrelated
TV apps.

Samsung’s home entertainment marketing senior VP
Joe Stinziano told TWICE that the company’s top-performing
models this year “were step-up models, including our
D7000 and D8000 LED and PDP models, which are available
in sizes up to 65 inches.”

“Based on the data we have so far, we know dealers in
some markets did better than last year, since sales were impacted
last year by a big snowstorm that hit the East Coast
the week before the Super Bowl. Of course, those dealers
in markets with teams in the game fared better,” he said.

Stinziano said that while Samsung did not offer any manufacturing
directed financing programs during the period,
it did offer “more attractive offers to consumers,” this year.

For Mitsubishi, sales from Super Bowl week were still
being tabulated on its DLP rear-projection TVs as this went
to press, but marketing VP Frank DeMartin told TWICE
that for the weeks of Jan. 13-28, when the company started
its promotion on 82- and 92-inch models, “we saw a
nice uptick in sales at retail for all screen sizes.”

The 73-inch DLP rear-projection set was up more than
10 percent vs. the same time last year, and the 82-inch
was up almost 30 percent in unit sales, he said. The 92-
inch also did well, “but there is no comparison to last year
since this is our first year of sales for this screen size.”

The 82- and 92-inch models were eligible for large instant
rebates from Jan. 13 through Feb. 6.

“We found that retailers that promoted our product aggressively
during the Super Bowl period did quite well.
[Also] online sales were a larger portion of our mix this year
than last.”

DeMartin said Mitsubishi also saw strong results from
the rent-to-own channel this playoff season. Aaron’s ran
a TV spot from November through February highlighting
the company’s 73-inch DLP at a $99 per month lease,
“and lease-through results have been very good,” DeMartin
observed.