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Business & Technology

With Super Bowl looming, TV sales soar

February 2nd, 2007 11:18 pm by REX BARBER

JOHNSON CITY - Super Bowl XLI will be here Sunday. Are you prepared?

Reviewing the plans in a playbook may not be part of your preparations, or maybe they are. But many, many football fans flock to local electronics stores in January, drooling over a 58-inch high-definition, high-contrast, high-resolution flat-screen television set on which to view the spectacle that is the largest and most popular sporting event in the world.

Arguably, the perfect complements to any Super Bowl party, in certain circles, are junk food, beer, friends and, most importantly, a gargantuan television as the centerpiece of a home theater system.

Mike Ausborne, assistant manager at Rex TV and Appliance, 3122 E. Oakland Ave., said Thursday that the Super Bowl tends to drive up television sales.

"Anytime the Super Bowl comes, people buy more big-screen TVs," Ausborne said. "But especially now with the Colts playing - Peyton Manning. A lot of Tennessee fans come in right now."

Love for the University of Tennessee's favorite former quarterback is not the only reason for purchasing a new television, Ausborne said. Sales are up right now because the new high-definition broadcasting due to begin in several years is bumping up sales.

He said it is really more of a "have to" situation when purchasing an HD TV, though cable providers will still offer an analog service after the switchover and converters will be available.

"Since November, sales have really picked up," Ausborne said. "Five percent up in sales compared to last year in our TVs."

A few miles away at Best Buy, Mark Berlowitz, home theater supervisor, said customers are coming in specifically for televisions.

"The last week, week and a half, it's been picking up pretty good," he said in regard to sales. "Especially since the Colts won against the Patriots."

The most popular television size is about 42 inches, according to Ausborne, and Berlowitz agreed.

"Anything above 40 inches," Berlowitz said. "LCD televisions, flat-screen televisions, plasma televisions - it's a combination of all three. We had a big rush last weekend."

Though the new HD TVs could be partially responsible for driving overall sales, Berlowitz said there are several other factors driving sales that have to do specifically with the Super Bowl.

"Some people like to entertain," he said. "I think some people just have that drive to entertain people," and they, of course, want to have the best equipment with which to do that.

There is also the sales price angle.

"I think some people have the mind-set that Super Bowl season means the prices are cheaper," he said.

And there are January sales for televisions, Berlowitz said.

Berlowitz also thought that sales in certain areas are affected by regional team support.

"Honestly though, it depends on who's playing," he said. "You know you've got Peyton Manning playing, the Colts and Peyton being Tennessee's only son, that has a lot to do with the success of TV sales. You know I can see in Arizona people not caring about Peyton Manning."

Berlowitz did not know if the rush on TV purchases would continue this weekend, but he said in years past customers were coming in 30 minutes before kickoff.

"I don't know how it's going to be this weekend," he said.

Even for those unable or unwilling to purchase a new television, there is still the option of going out to a local restaurant or bar that offers the game on their TV.

Bailey's Sports Grille, 2102 North Roan St., known for its large-screen television, is giving away a 56-inch flat-screen TV during the Super Bowl.

Manager-in-training Tyler Parkhill said the TV giveaway is a new addition to their annual Super Bowl festivities.

Last year Bailey's was the meeting place for a club of Pittsburgh Steelers fans, and it was this year, too, until they fell out of the running.

"We've got some Colts fans that have been gathering for the playoffs," Parkhill said.

Kickoff Sunday is at 6:25 p.m. And Parkhill said if fans want to watch the game they should show up early.

"As early as you can get here and sit here is probably the best," he said. "We'll fill up all our tables probably about 4 or so, and we'll probably run out of space because we're expecting a big crowd."

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