Over the years, the Super Bowl has grown from just being a game for all the marbles at the end of the NFL season to a near-universal day of celebration and parties that even non-fans can enjoy. Sure there's the spectacle of the game itself, but watching all of those "can you top this" commercials has grown into its own national pastime. And nothing can beat the camaraderie of gathering a big group of friends for a big day of food and fun while you watch the goings-on on a big-screen TV ... assuming you own one. That's why, other than Black Friday, the run up to Super Bowl Sunday is the most popular time for shoppers to finally pull the trigger on a new TV. But is it really the best time to do so?
The survey says ...
Believe it or not, most people (nearly 60 percent) would rather watch the Super Bowl at home on a new TV than travel to see the game in person, or so says a survey conducted by electronics deal site, TechBargains.com. "They believe the best Super Bowl experience is at home, on a tricked-out TV system," says Yung Trang, president and editor-in-chief of the site.
Many are also ready to buy: The survey reports that 1 in 4 shoppers are at least considering buying a new TV in time for the game. And what's the big feature most are looking for. No, it's not 3D or Internet connectivity; instead they just want a bigger screen to watch.
"Bigger is better," says Jeff Haynes, editor of TechBargains.com. "The TV has become the center piece of the American family room and the difference in just a few more inches is noticeable." He adds that shoppers have moved up from wanting 42-inch screens to preferring ones that range between 46 and 55 inches.
Bargains (or not) for the big game
Conventional wisdom says that the first quarter of a year is among the best times to buy a TV set. The new models are due to begin arriving in stores within months, if not weeks, giving retailers and set makers a pretty good incentive to clear out last year's stock to make room. Couple that with a TV-centric event like the Super Bowl to drive customers into the store (or to online buying sites), and the stage would seem to be perfect for making last year's TV's disappear faster than a fourth-quarter lead.
However, some say that conventional wisdom isn't necessarily right this time around. For example, Paul Gagnon of market researcher NPD DisplaySearch tells USA Today that this year's Super Bowl deals are a bit less compelling. He credits a better-than-expected Black Friday period. "A lot of consumers took advantage of those spectacular Black Friday prices and bought sets that they might have waited a little longer on," he says. With less stock on hand, some sellers, it seems, have decided to be a bit more patient.
That's not to say that deals can't be found. Brent Shelton of FatWallet.com tells the Hartford Courant: "Some of the prices we've seen on FatWallet in January are just as low as Black Friday prices, especially for the better quality models."
Our own quick survey shows that most sets haven't quite come back to their Black Friday prices, though a few of those deals -- such as Best Buy's offer of an LG 47LW5300 47-inch 3D TV/Blu-ray player combo for $799 , which we blogged about as part of last year's Black Friday coverage -- can be found again. Samsung is offering special pricing on its D8000 and D7000 sets (including the UN55D8000, our pick as the Best Reviewed 55-inch LCD TV for 2011) that brings these high-end HDTVs into the neighborhood of what they sold for during the holiday shopping season, and certainly below their prevailing prices the rest of last year.
More typically, you should expect to pay a little more, however. For example, the 60-inch Sharp LC60E79U offered by Best Buy will now set you back $999 instead of the $799 it cost on Black Friday, but that's still a pretty good price for a decent set of this screen size from a major brand. For our take on that TV, see this earlier post.