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TV Retails Tumble In Final Week Of Super Bowl Promos

New York — CE chains finally pulled the trigger on TV price promotions in the last few days before the Super Bowl in a final push to clear out old inventory.

While price points had generally held firm through most of January, the final week of the month brought with it another round of price declines that saw 42W-inch, tier-three plasma displays fall below $1,000 (Maxent), and 40W-inch tier-one LCD panels fall below $1,500 (Samsung).

Although Panasonic took much of the heat for the disruptive holiday season, the Super Bowl promotions were led largely by Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. Among the more striking price cuts: Sony’s highly-touted SXRD rear-projection line. Best Buy offered the 50W-inch 1,080p Grand Wega for $1,800 shipped in an online special, and the 55W-inch model for $2,025.

Other rear-projection TVs that were footballed this week included Samsung’s 50W-inch 720p DLP ($1,250 online at Circuit City); JVC’s 52W-inch, 1,080p HD-ILA ($1,500 at hhgregg); and Mitsubishi’s 57W-inch 1,080p DLP ($2,000, also at hhgregg).

Toshiba sets also hit new lows, with its 37W-inch REGZA LCD-TV/DVD combo selling for $1,498 at Abt Electronics, while the company offered a $200 incentive on combined purchases of its HD DVD players and HDTVs 42W-inches and higher.

Plasma price points also fell, with tier-one displays generally retailing for $1,300 in 42W-inch sizes and $1,800 for 50W-inch sets.

The promotions and pre-game hoopla apparently had their effect. David Morrish, merchandising senior VP for Best Buy, who visited one of the chain’s Manhattan stores with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this week to herald Vista’s launch, said the location enjoyed “a surprising amount of traffic for big-screen TVs” as the new operating system launched.

Zero-percent financing offers also played a major role in Super Bowl promotions. Morrish said the plans are important to mass market consumers who are suddenly finding HDTVs within their reach.