Brian.oco 0 Posting Whiz

Let's all take a breather at the end of another topsy-turvy week on Wall Street, where things have calmed down as of mid-morning on Friday (the Dow Jones Industrial Average is off a mere four points at 11:30 AM EST, and is actually up for the week . . . but the media doesn't want you to know THAT!)

I'll have more to say about Microsoft and its upbeat earnings release announced yesterday -- PC sales are up and the computer software behemoth seems to be weathering the rough economy very well. But let's save that for Monday and keep things light here as the weekend and a welcome martini and a warm fire await us. Or me, anyway.

One piece of interesting news comes from next week's Super Bowl, which is apparently a big driver in consumer technology sales. That could provide a short-term boost to the technology sector in a down economic quarter. After all, if consumer are willing to plunk $1,500 down to watch the Super Bowl on a big screen, HDTV, how bad can things really be?

Take those HDTV's. Super Bowl XLII is expected to drive the purchase of approximately 2.4 million high-definition television (HDTV) units, according to the Consumer Electronics Association and the Sports Video Group.

It's hardly a new development. The Super Bowl has retained the title of top driver for HDTV purchases for three years running, generating some $2.2 billion in HDTV sales so far in 2008. Other big-ticket sporting events have consumers flocking to Circuit City, Best Buy and the like. This year’s survey results show the Super Bowl is followed by college bowl games, the World Series, NBA Finals and NCAA March Madness as drivers of HDTV purchases. The true impact of these sporting events on consumer technology sales is even higher when factoring in consumer purchases of high-def accessories such as HDMI cables, universal remotes, surround sound audio systems and mounting brackets.

Even laptop computer sales click upward for the Super Bowl. “We have long known the Super Bowl influences HDTV unit sales,” said Tim Herbert, CEA’s senior director of market research. “We are now finding ties to other technologies consumers use to enhance their Super Bowl experience. This year, 18 percent of consumers watching the game expect to have a laptop PC nearby to check stats, IM with friends or check betting lines. Another 12 percent plan to use a PC in another room to check statistics during the game and 13 percent expect to use their mobile phone for the same purpose.”

It's a trend that experts anticipate will continue over the years -- and that's good news for consumer goods technology manufacturers and the retailers that sell such products.

“While HD is still the primary driver, we’re seeing a rapid increase in adoption of technologies that provide viewers with even greater control over their sports TV experience,” said Ken Kerschbaumer, SVG editorial director. “This points to a whole new way of reaching the next generation of sports fan via multiple channels of media distribution.”

I love it. When it comes to seeing Tom Brady square off versus Eli Manning in Arizona next week, Americans aren't going to let a little economic tsunami get in the way of watching the big game . . . in style.

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