NEW YORK – Supersized isn’t just for french fries.
Americans increasingly are replacing their once-enviable 50-inch televisions with even bigger screens. Think: 65-inches and up.
People are snagging big screens – pushing sales of them up 50 percent in the past year while overall TV sales have faltered. As prices fall, hardcore TV watchers and video gamers are finding sets affordable that a few years ago would have been playthings for wealthier people.
Jarvis Jackson, for instance, plans to spend up to $1,500 for a 65-inch television with Internet capability. Jackson, who lives in Birmingham, Ala., said he’ll scale back on dining out and postpone other purchases to make room in his budget.
“You definitely can tell the difference between a 55-inch and a larger size TV,” said Jackson. “To get the right TV is important, especially when football season is coming up.”
Shoppers such as Jackson are being enticed by new technologies, including Internet capability, which allows Netflix streaming, and Ultra HD screens, which offer a sharper picture.
Falling prices also have made big screens more accessible to the average person. TV prices overall have fallen 9 percent to 11 percent, and the average price of a 50-inch television is down $75 from two years ago to $573, according to research firm NPD Group.
“TVs are more affordable than they’ve ever been, so a ‘supersized’ TV today is still far less expensive than smaller screens were three or four years ago,” said Jamie Bastian, a spokeswoman for Target, which expanded its selection of big-screen televisions to include 70-inch versions this year, up from last year’s 60 inches.
Although televisions 65 inches or bigger account for just 2 percent of sets sold, they’re the bright spot in a market that has been slumping in part because more people are using tablets and cellphones to stream movies and television shows.
Overall, televisions 50 inches and bigger accounted for 25 percent of the sets sold in the past 12 months, up from 14 percent in 2012. NPD expects the figure to reach 30 percent this year.
The advent of flat screens and high-definition television prompted a rush to upgrade a decade ago, but developments such as 3-D televisions have failed to entice buyers in recent years. But experts said Ultra HD is a simple enough upgrade to gain widespread adoption in the next few years.
Retailers are taking advantage of the demand. Amazon.com plans to feature some 100-inch models this year. Best Buy is increasing its selection of 55-inch-plus televisions by 20 percent.
But big-screen televisions come with hassles: Best Buy delivery people sometimes have to open the box on the customer’s front lawn or go through a patio door because the box won’t fit through a regular door. Best Buy said a 55-inch Samsung television weighs 37 pounds whereas a 75-inch Samsung television weighs 83 pounds.
“I don’t think anyone would have estimated the appetite for the size of these TVs,” said Luke Motschenbacher, director of Best Buy’s TV business.