Point of Sale

The Pre-Super Bowl TV Discount Shuffle

In today’s NFL, the proverbial best seat in the house isn’t always going to be found at the 50-yard line of the nearest stadium. In fact, the in-home viewing experience has become so specialized through replays and high-definition broadcasts that booking oneself a staycation for Super Bowl 50 is a more attractive proposal for millions of football fans.

That all depends on the host having the right TV for the game and the room, which begs the age-old question: Does renting or buying a top-of-the-line TV for the Super Bowl make any financial sense at all?

The logic seems to hold water. Digital Trends explained that the Super Bowl has morphed over the years into a post-Christmas sales opportunity for electronics manufacturers to unload as many of last year’s models that didn’t get sold over the holidays. A 2015 FatWallet.com survey found that the days leading up to the Super Bowl represent one of the most active times for TV sales throughout the entire year, second only to Black Friday. But that all skirts the real issue: Are there any true deals to be had prior to kickoff?

Unlike the decisive nature of the Super Bowl, there’s no such definitive answer for pre-game TV discounts. Sara Skirboll, a spokeswoman for RetailMeNot, told NBC News that those consumers might find themselves the unintended victims of poor clock management. According to Skirboll, the average high-definition TV was priced between 42 percent and 47 percent below normal on Black Friday. Fast forward a few months to just before the Super Bowl and those discounts have slid to just 25 percent.

If this comes as a surprise to consumers, they’re not alone. It’s a shock to Skirboll as well. RetailMeNot had predicted those discounts to persist well into 2016 as retailers made inventory space for the newest gadgets coming out of the recently wrapped CES 2016.

“I think the prediction being off is not necessarily a direct correlation to the Super Bowl, but rather about the cost of goods and the amount of people buying those goods over the last few months,” Skirboll told NBC News. “Retailers may have discounted so heavily — to the consumer’s delight — in late December and early January … (that) they are having to readjust the remainder of their January promotional calendar, which includes television sets.”

Another complicating factor to depressed TV discounts ahead of the Super Bowl has to do with the differing nature of TV sets. Brent Shelton, an analyst at FatWallet.com, told NBC that many of the TVs that go on sale around Black Friday are general-use models that aren’t optimized for any particular viewing mode. However, most pre-Super Bowl discounted TVs are designed with higher refresh rates and better color contrast modes to enhance the fast-paced, multiple-subject field of a football game. Especially as this higher end of the TV spectrum becomes even more advanced with 4K resolution and integrated Wi-Fi, retailers might be more hesitant to slap deep discounts on their premium items.

Shelton did acknowledge that the higher prices of these more advanced TVs may still lead to sizeable discounts, despite lower percentages. However, the super-patient football fan who can stomach watching the big game on an old TV might end up coming out on top; in the days immediately after the Lombardi Trophy is handed out, discounts can spike up to 20 percent on high-end TVs, according to Digital Trends.

Just as coaches pour over playbooks and game film in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, if the average consumer wants anything close to a deal on a top-shelf TV before the big game this year, they have to do almost as much legwork as the teams they root for.

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