In a time of generally rising prices, one product category stands out for becoming significantly cheaper and more advanced: televisions. We analyzed 17 years of Best Buy's Black Friday advertisements, focusing on the evolution of TV prices. TV prices fluctuate a lot. We focused on the TVs promoted by Best Buy on Black Friday since it allowed us to track promotional pricing on large TVs over time.
The average 2022 Black Friday TV doorbuster was double the size yet 78% less expensive, on a cost-per-square-inch basis, compared to those in 2005.
New sizes and technologies drop in price very quickly. If you want to save money, wait until a TV has been on the market for a year.
While every brand has gotten cheaper over time, some are still more expensive than others. Sony and LG tend to be more expensive than less-established brands like TCL.
The best deals on a cost-per-square-inch basis are typically on popular sizes like 55" and 65".
Screen sizes for TVs are typically measured diagonally, which can obscure the actual size difference between models. A 65" TV doesn't sound that much bigger than a 55" TV, but the screen area is 40% larger. For our analysis, we calculated prices based on screen area, providing a more accurate comparison across various sizes. The trend since 2005 is crystal clear: TV screens have gotten much more affordable.
Since 2005, TV technology has evolved dramatically. Back then, rear projection TVs were still common, whereas today, LED panels are the norm. The significant reduction in the cost of LED technology is a key factor in the overall affordability of modern TVs. However, the trend of prices rapidly falling over time is also evident across every screen type, including now-defunct technologies like Plasma and Rear Projection.
While the previous sections examined the cost per square inch across all TV models advertised by Best Buy on Black Friday, this section focuses on the lowest advertised prices of popular sizes (55", 65", 75", and 85") over the years. Note that Best Buy regularly promotes dozens of TVs for Black Friday, so there are several different TVs available at for every size and screen type.
We you look at specific sizes, you can see the same trend we saw in the overall averages and the screen type data. When a new size is first introduced, it is quite expensive, but then it gets rapidly cheaper.
While all brands are getting cheaper over time, some are still more expensive than others. Sony reliably charges the highest price per square inch for their TVs while newer Chinese companies like TCL tend to be more affordable. The chart below looks at the average cost per square inch for every brand with at least two TVs in the 2021 Best Buy Black Friday circular.
The highest-priced TV on a cost per square inch basis promoted by Best Buy during a Black Friday sale was in 2005: a 42-inch Plasma TV by Magnavox for $1,499, equating to about $2,339 when adjusted for inflation, or approximately $3.10 per square inch. This price is over six times the average cost per square inch of Best Buy's offerings in 2022.
Conversely, the most affordable TV was last year's Black Friday deal: a 55-inch QLED TV from TCL for $199, roughly $0.16 per square inch.
We looked at Best Buy’s Black Friday TV deals from 2005-2022 using the Black Friday Archive. Our study covered 274 TVs over 42" from 2005 to 2022.
Inflation adjustments are made using the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator
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