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Super Bowl Parties Go High-Def

An estimated 2.5 million Americans will be buying a new television for Super Bowl Sunday, based on results of a marketing recent survey, some spending as much as $10,000 for a 65-inch high-definition, flat-panel, plasma TV and related gear. (Image credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Just as Christmas is of the most important time of year for toy sales, the Super Bowl is prime time for sales of high-definition TV sets. Unfortunately, batteries are not included.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) figures that this year's Super Bowl will be the driving force behind the purchase of 2.4 million HD TVs, worth about $2.2 billion — and that's not even counting the mounting brackets, the universal remote controls, the fancy speakers, or the popcorn.

Nor does it count the power the things consume. Electrical use starts at about 100 watts for a small unit (27 inches) and exceeds 600 watts for units in the 60-inch range—almost putting them in the realm of microwave ovens.

Wattages of other common household appliances:

  • Clock radio: 10
  • Computer and monitor: 270
  • Clothes dryer: 1800–5000

But people appear to be shrugging off the costs, since watching the Super Bowl on HD TV is turning into a high-tech tribal ritual, said CEA economist Shawn G. DuBravac.

CEA surveys show that about 35 percent of American adults plan to watch the game at home with a small group, DuBravac told LiveScience, and another 15 percent plan to watch at home with a large group. Fifteen percent plan to watch at a third-party location such as a club or hotel, and two percent plan to watch at a sports bars. The usual misfits — 11 percent — plan to watch it at home alone. Nineteen percent had made a decision not to watch for reasons best known to themselves, and the remaining three percent are presumably institutionalized.

"It doesn't matter who is playing—the food is ordered, the TV is hung, and the invitations have gone out," DuBravac added.

The fans have also gone on-line, as 18 percent of the people who said they plan to watch the game also plan to have a computer on hand to check statistics, compared notes with distant friends, or check betting lines. Thirteen percent said they plan to use a mobile phone for that purpose.

Of course, the Super Bowl is not the only sports event out there.

"We found that 40 percent of HD TV owners this year bought the set specifically to watch sports, up from 31 percent last year," DuBravac said. "Among those who identify themselves as sports fans, 64 percent bought the sets to watch sports."

Other events that HD buyers cited as reasons for getting a set were, in order, college bowl games, the World Series, the NBA finals, NCAA March Madness, and the summer Olympics, but the Super Bowl had them all beat, DuBravac said.

Incidentally, total sales for digital TVs in the US during 2007 amounted to 27.1 million, according to other CEA figures, and sales are expected to reach 31.8 million in 2008. Prices have fallen 39 percent since 2003.