America: bigger TVs, smaller homes

The saying goes, “bigger is better.” For American TV buyers, the adage holds true. Massive sets have become a sort of status symbol, and it’s not uncommon for small rooms to host big TVs. Even as homes shrink in size, more and more big-screen TVs are being sold to consumers eager for creature comforts.

America: bigger TVs, smaller homes
Images: IHS iSuppli, Panasonic

The first few months of 2011 saw more sales of 50-inch+ TVs to American buyers than in 2010, according to researcher IHS iSuppli. Nearly 23% of consumers purchased mammoth sets through March – up around 3% over last year’s typically successful holiday period. The last time such sales broke the vaunted 20% mark was in early 2010, says the group.

IHS chalks up the boost to simple economics: the price of large, high-end models has come down. But what hasn’t shrunk is that primal desire to own the biggest and best, especially when it comes to the toys in your living room. The group admits owning a large TV is “highly desirable” for the average American.

The increase in sales among 50-inch+ sets does not mean they are the most popular, however.

IHS’ chart shows that marginally smaller 40-to-49-inch models continue to hold a lead, earning just under 40% of TV sales during the year’s first quarter – a slight drop from the same period last year that contrasts neatly with its big brother’s growth.

The two smallest offerings combined only represent around 12% of TV sales.

Juxtaposing these sales numbers are new studies suggesting that houses have shrunk over the past few years, and will continue to shrink.

United Press International reported on a statement from the National Association of Home Builders that said homes in 2007 averaged 2,500 square feet, but by 2013 that number will be 2,150. Right now, the figure hovers around 2,380.

Not surprising considering the recession’s lingering effects on the housing market.

As always, people make do with what they have. Some have even argued in support of smaller homes, and that opposite of the attitude held towards TV sets bigger isn’t always better.

Consumers are packing larger TVs into shrinking spaces – and could be permanently. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; unless, of course, manufacturers experience a sea change in their current direction of condensing technology and start releasing larger computers, game consoles and media players instead.

Then, things might get a little more crowded in the living room.