Super Bowl TV Rental: You're Better Off Buying

NEW YORK (MainStreet) – For football fans, this was the worst weekend of the winter: a Sunday without football. (OK, there was the Pro Bowl, but let’s be honest – it’s the worst All-Star game of the four major sports.)

If you think your modestly-priced 32-inch TV might not really be big enough, there is another way: You can rent a gigantic TV for the weekend to capture the biggest game of the year in all its glory, impressing your friends at the same time.

But all that status and picture quality come at a price. Is it really worth spending $300 for one night of television?

Yes, $300. That’s about the minimum going rate for a weekend rental of a big-screen TV. You’ll get a great television for the game, though: When MainStreet called our local Rent-a-Center, we were told that price would get us a Panasonic TC-P54S2, a 55-inch 1080p plasma screen TV. That television is billed elsewhere as being “great for sports and cinema-quality movies,” and plasma screens in general have superior viewing angles, meaning everyone at your party will be able to see the picture clearly.

But even with delivery, set-up and pickup included, you still need to pause and remember that you only get to use it for one weekend. If you decided to buy the TV instead, you could get it on Buy.com for $1,049.95, plus $166.75 for delivery. For four times as much money you get to use it for years, instead of a measly four hours before having to give it back.

If you don’t have $1,200 available right now, then you’re out of luck either way: Rent-a-Center requires a $1,500 deposit to rent the TV, and most rental services require similar security. So if liquidity is an issue, then renting instead of buying isn’t even the solution. You’re better off buying with a credit card or finding a store that will sell one to you on layaway.

What are your other options? NFL rules prohibit renting out a local movie theater to watch the game, but you can do the next best thing: rent a projector… for the same price as a TV. One rental service in New York, NYC Audio Video Rentals, charges at least $300 to rent a 1080p HD projector for the weekend.


Projection television has come a long way since the three-color overhead projectors they used in elementary school. There are HD projectors on the market these days with the same resolution as a 1080p television, though you’ll need something to project the image onto. If you don’t have a big, white wall, you’ll also need to spring for a screen, for another $55 for the weekend.

And keep in mind that the speakers built into the projector don’t provide very good sound quality, so if you don’t have a sound system of your own you might have guests straining to hear those all-important commercials. One advantage of a projector is that they are great for outdoor viewing parties – unlike a 55-inch TV, it’s easy to take the projector outside. But unless you’re in a warm climate (like Arlington, Texas, where the game will be played), you’re better off staying indoors.

In any case, once again, you’re better off buying: You can get a 1080p projector for less than $1,000. But while they are great for special events and outdoor parties, they may not be feasible for regular TV-watching if you don’t have a dark living room with a big unblemished wall.

Given the economics of it all, it’s no surprise that renting a TV for the Super Bowl just doesn’t really happen. If you can afford to rent one, chances are you can afford to buy one. A spokesperson for Rent-a-Center told MainStreet that weekend TV rentals aren’t as big a part of their business as some people might think.

So if you don’t think your current TV is big enough to host a Super Bowl party, your best bet is to just buy a new one. And if that’s not an option, get someone else to host.

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