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American football fans rushed to buy gigantic television sets during the countdown to the Super Bowl, spurring a double-digit percentage surge in US shipments of LCD TVs in January.

According to IHS Screen Digest, about two million LCD TVs shipped in the United States in January 2013, up 15% from nearly 1.8 million during the same month in 2012. In comparison, shipments in January 2012 contracted compared to one year earlier.

January is one of the most important months of the year for the US television market, when brands and retailers offer promotional prices on larger-sized sets to attract viewers during the run up to the Super Bowl, which took place on 3 February this year. However, the allure of large-sized televisions to US consumers was also enhanced this time by a protracted decline in pricing, analysts said.

"The cost of LCD TVs sized 50 inches and larger has been plunging since the second half of 2012 as television brands introduced new models," said Jusy Hong, senior analyst for television for IHS. "This rise in competition helped propel strong growth for large-sized LCD TV sales during the Super Bowl sales season in January. Shipments of LCD TVs sized 60 inches and larger showed particularly strong gains, with their penetration of the market tripling in January compared to the same month in 2012."

LG, Samsung, Sony and Vizio, together account for more than 50% of shipments in the country. Among these top four LCD TV brands in the United States, 50 inch and larger LCD TVs accounted for 30% of total shipments in January, up from 19% during the same month in 2012. Meanwhile, 60 inch and larger sets made up 12%, up from 3% one year earlier.

Japanese brand Sharp initiated the 60-inch LCD TV market in 2010, nearly monopolising sales with its low-priced sets. However, as other brands also introduced similar sized models during the intervening years, price competition started and the market began to expand.

By Black Friday in November 2012, the price war reached a crescendo, IHS noted, with Vizio and Best Buy jointly promoting a 60-inch LCD TV priced at $699-$300 off the original price. Pricing for the Vizio set then climbed to $899 during the Super Bowl promotion, but even at that rate it was still $100 less than the initial starting price.

The same sized model from Sharp was priced at $899 for the Super Bowl, also $100 off its original price. For its part, Samsung offered a high-end 60-inch set at $1,699, which represented a $1,100 discount.

Promotional pricing of 60-inch sets for lesser known, second tier brands was even lower.

"The market share of super-large-sized televisions is bound to grow," IHS said. "Such sets are likely to become even more popular in March when television vendors launch new 2013 models in time for another major sporting event: the NCAA basketball's March madness."

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