Busting the Myth that the Super Bowl Sells HDTVs
February 4, 2010

Busting the Myth that the Super Bowl Sells HDTVs

From Retrevo ( www.retrevo.com)

Conventional wisdom has big media events like the Super Bowl dramatically increasing demand for HDTV sets. With the New Orleans Saints about to take on the Indianapolis Colts and the Winter Olympics starting on February 12, Retrevo turned their Pulse study to look at how events like these influence consumers decisions to buy HDTV sets and services. Retrevo asked which events would be more likely to get someone to purchase a high definition TV or HD service. Surprisingly, neither the Olympics, Academy Awards, nor even the Super Bowl provided the biggest motivation to buy an HDTV set.

Price Beats Programming as Purchase Motivator
Although the Olympics will likely be a reason to buy an HDTV set, a much larger number of respondents in the study said major events like the Super Bowl don’t matter as much as a great price or deal does. The Retrevo Pulse has also seen close correlation between price and demand for HDTVs in its demand index. The Super Bowl is a more popular reason to buy an HDTV set than Olympics but not by much. Both Super Bowl and Olympics beat out the Academy Awards but price and deals prevailed by a wide margin.

Networks Need to Raise the Awareness
When we asked about their ability to receive the Olympics in high definition, almost 50% of respondents answered, “I don’t know.” Many of them did say they will be able to receive it however, many more said they didn’t know. We're not sure whether they meant they didn't know if the Olympics were going to be broadcast in HD, whether or not they receive the right channel, or whether or not their TV was able to receive it. In any case, someone needs to help educate these consumers about HD programming and what they can and can't receive. Whether it's NBC, Comcast, the Olympics organization, or TV resellers, it sounds like someone has not been doing a very good job of educating consumers about HDTV.

What about Online and Mobile Viewers?
We were impressed by the number of respondents saying they planned on watching the Olympics online with almost 14% indicating the will watch the Olympics on their computer. On the other hand, if we believed all the hype about TV viewing on mobile devices we'd think regular TVs were going to become obsolete soon. Not that we don't believe mobile device owners won't be watching more and more TV on these devices in the future but as this study shows, at least as far as the Olympics are concerned, it doesn't look like mobile is going to be the viewing method of choice for most viewers.

Will Anyone Hear the Surround Sound?
NBC goes to great lengths to provide high quality, immersive, 5.1 channel surround sound for the Olympics and other sporting events. This year TV owners with surround sound speakers should be able to feel more of the drama at the starting gate, in the ice rink, or at any other venue. However, according to the study, not only do most HDTV owners not have surround sound speakers but they aren't even aware of the lengths NBC is going to provide a great audio experience.

By the Numbers
Retrevo asked the following:

What would most make you buy an HDTV set?
75% "Events don't matter as much as a great price."
11% "The Super Bowl"
10% "The Olympics"
4% "Other events, like the Academy Awards, Sweeps Week, etc."

Do you know if you will be able to receive Olympics coverage in high definition?
49% "I don't know"
38% "Yes, from cable or satellite service"
7% "Yes, I will get it over the air"
5% "Yes, but I won't be able to get it in HD"
1% "Yes, and I'll change service to receive it in HD

What device will you watch the Olympics on?
63% Television
22% I won't watch any coverage
14% Computer
1% On a mobile device

Did you know the Olympics will be broadcast in 5.1 surround sound?
50% "Don't care and don't have 5.1 surround sound"
31% "Didn't know, but have a 5.1 surround sound system"
19% "Know and have a 5.1 surround sound system"

We’re not saying Best Buy should give the HDTV department the week off before the Olympics but if Best Buy and others really want to bring buyers into the store they should add on some killer HDTV deals.

Data for this report came from a study of more than 600 randomly selected Retrevo users in January 2010. The sample was distributed across gender, age, income and location in the United States. Most questions had a confidence interval of 4% at a 95% confidence level.