Do TV Shoppers Net Super Bowl Savings?

As football fans across the country debate the merits of the undefeated New England Patriots and the underdog New York Giants, gearheads and Super Bowl party hosts have their own internal debate: whether to buy a big television for the big game.

Traditionally, during the two weeks before the Super Bowl, sales of TVs spike across the nation, along with online and in-store promotions, to get consumers spending. But experts debate whether there are actual bargains to be had in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.

"Any discussion about bargains in consumer electronics is almost always an urban legend," NPD's vice president of industry analysis Stephen Baker told "There may be some promotional deals where you can get better financing, or an installation deal. Overall, those are the same kinds of deals that retailers will run during high traffic times."

Bargains or not, that doesn't keep people from buying TVs just before the Super Bowl.

"Last year, sales were up 50 percent [the week before the Super Bowl] from the previous week," Baker said. "Clearly, as we get closer to the Super Bowl, people buy more televisions and buy more big screen ones."

But the savings aren't the only driving force for buying a TV. The Super Bowl itself seems to be enough of an event to get people into stores, even so close to the holiday shopping season. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the game will prompt the purchase of 2.4 million HDTVs.

"There's nothing to the big game [without] a big screen," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at Jupiter Research. "A consumer that may have been sitting on the fence, and really wants to see that game in high definition, is definitely going to be attracted by bargains."

According to Gartenberg, the weeks before the Super Bowl are a great time to make the big purchase.

"Manufacturers are looking for ways to get rid of the old stock, and make room for the new," he said. "Consumers can really pick up some good deals before new models come out."

In contrast to other sporting events, like the World Series and March Madness, the Super Bowl draws shoppers, because, according to Gartenberg, it transcends loyalties to teams, and even sports, in general.

"No matter what two teams are playing, people want to be a part of it," he said. "People get together, showing off the screens. ... Some people skip the game to watch the commercials."

Many retailers, including Best Buy, are banking on it. The store is running massive promotions, catering to consumers' gotta-have-it now whims, up to two days before the big day.

"Two weeks right before the Super Bowl, we always see a spike in television sales," said Best Buy spokesman Brian Lucas. "It's always more pronounced in the cities where the teams are from."

For this year's Super Bowl promotion, the store guarantees delivery in time for the game, as long as you order by the day before.

But consumers worried that these deals will never come around again can rest easy. As with many consumer electronics, prices for HDTVs will continue to fall.

"Consumers find this to be a great time to buy. ... [They] want to watch the game in HD," said CEA spokeswoman Megan Pollock. "[But] prices go down, month after month, much like a car cycle. The price is always going down."