Does the SuperBowl sell HDTVs? I haven’t seen sales figures for January yet and February’s only half over, but it’s pretty clear from a number of metrics that I track that interest has fallen way off since February 4th. We’re entering the dark time for HDTV sales — aside from a possible bump from Chinese Lunar New Year holidays — so you can expect to see manufacturers and stores doing what they can to promote sales and keep the cash flow going. I don’t expect to see prices drop significantly, but it could happen if inventories get bloated.
And there’s one footnote to the big game that is worth noting. It was reported that Sinclair — owner of a large number of local broadcast stations across the country — reached an agreement with cable operator Mediacom. Sinclair had pulled 22 of its stations in 13 states from Mediacom cable systems in early January over a dispute about monthly payments for the use of their content. Apparently, the deal was settled the Friday before the SuperBowl. Talk about a cliff-hanger!
This is all part of the new world of broadcast television. Just because you can get the signal for free over the airwaves will not guarantee that the broadcasters will provide it free to local cable or satellite systems. The networks and producers and local stations are paying a lot of money to develop the content — especially programming in HD — and with fewer and fewer households viewing the broadcast signal, it only makes sense that these businessess want a share of the revenue from the cable and satellite services. The question of what service will carry which programming in what resolution — and at what cost to the viewer — is one that is likely to remain unsettled for several years at least.