NEW YORK –
Sharp Electronics officially launched sales of its first 70-inch class Quattron Full HD 1080p LCD TVs through an expanded retail distribution network encompassing more than 7,000 outlets around the country.
At a press event last week Sharp said it has added more than 1,300 retail outlets to carry the behemoth set, which the company calls the largest LCD TV available,” in the last 90 days, due largely to the excitement the massive screen size is bringing to sales floors.
The TV will be supported by an extensive consumer ad campaign (budget numbers were not disclosed) emphasizing the 70-incher’s size including the use of creative superlatives like “jumbowhelming” and “spectacularge.”
Sharp has already started deliveries of the LC- 70LE732U ($3,800 suggested retail) 70-inch model with greater quantities scheduled to ramp up over the next several weeks. The first of what will be four model classes for the 70-inch LED-backlit LCD screen size will offer full 1080p resolution, a 120Hz refresh rate and IPTV connectivity.
Later this summer the company will add three more 70-inch step-up models, including units that add 240Hz refresh rates and a top-of-line model with active- shutter 3D capability.
Sharp Electronic Marketing Co. of America (SEMCA) president John Herrington said the company will make another announcement later in the year for the planned use of the Elite brand it is licensing from Pioneer.
Herrington said Sharp will use the 70-inch screen size to maintain its No. 1 market share position in large-screen LCD TV (a position Sharp said it has held since 2008). Currently, Sharp defines large-screen TV as screen sizes measuring 60-inches and larger.
“U.S. consumers are clearly voting for large screen television,” said Herrington. “It is the fastest growing segment. Consumers are demanding big, they are looking forward to big and they want bigger.”
The 70LE732U shipping now joins a number of Sharp Aquos 60-inch class Quattron models already on retail shelves.
All of the large screen sets feature Sharp’s exclusive Aquos Quattron quad-pixel LED technology, and Sharp’s connected IPTV system with built in Wi- Fi offering access to Vudu, Netflix, Blockbuster and CinemaNow streaming video services, in addition to Facebook and other apps.
But the highlight of last Wednesday’s launch was the new massive screen size which gives Sharp a bigscreen LCD TV that can compete in both size and price with super large plasma displays.
At 70-inches the new sets offer 62 percent more viewing area than a typical 55-inch model.
To support the rollout, Sharp’s national advertising campaign leverages TV, print, Web and in-store promotional vehicles. The campaign’s tag line is “‘Big’ is too small a word,” referring to the size and viewing experience the new model delivers, so Sharp is turning to the newly-coined aforementioned words to describe the screen.
TV spots will target key programming including sporting events that tend to draw males between the ages of 35-54 years old – the prime audience (or “sweet spot”) for the 70-inch screen size, said Mark Viken, SEMCA marketing VP.
Separately Sharp’s recent decision to temporarily suspend production at two of its largest LCD panel plants in Japan due to shortages of materials from the recent earth quake there, is unlikely to have any impact on supplies of Sharp-branded TVs in the U.S., said company chairman Kozo Takahashi. Sharp has suspended operations until May 6 at its LCD factories in Osaka and Mie prefectures.