Panasonic, DirecTV Partner; Three 3D Channels Due in June

Panasonic's Bob Perry talks up the coming 3D FUll HD plasma TV line

DirecTV's Eric Shanks and Panasonic's Yoshi Yamada

Panasonic and DirecTV co-announced on the eve of CES 2010’s opening day a partnership that would result in the carriage of three dedicated 3D channels on the satellite service, starting in June. Subscribers to the service will receive a free software upgrade that will enable access to 3D content, said DirecTV Entertainment executive vice president Eric Shanks.

Demonstrations of DirecTV 3D transmissions, viewed on Panasonic’s newly announced VIERA plasma Full HD 3D sets, due out later this year, will be conducted beginning on Jan. 7 – Day One of International CES. A focal point of the booth will be the world’s largest 3D plasma display, clocking in at 152 diagonal inches.

Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. (PCEC) president Shiro Kitajima said the partnership was but one aspect of a full-throttle approach to 3D hardware marketing planned by Panasonic. This year, he said, would see the introduction of “a full line of 3D Full HDTVs, 3D Blu-ray players and 3D professional production cameras.”

In displays, Panasonic is slated to introduce Full HD 3D VIERA plasma sets in a V series that includes 65-, 58-, 54-, and 50-inch screen sizes, said PCEC senior vice president Bob Perry. The V series will also feature VIERACast Wi-Fi capability and Skype – the result of another partnership announced by Panasonic. Skype, the Internet service provider whose software converts computers into communication devices, currently boasts 500 million registered users worldwide.

Perry also said the company would spend more than twice as much as in 2008 on talking to the consumer to drive their awareness Panasonic products’ ease of use, high performance and value. He said that another part of the overarching strategy for 2010 marketing would include efforts to improve sales velocity and shift demand to new-technology products through consumer education. Perry added that within the last year, Panasonic had grown its unit base market share while it had improved its display positioning and quality among retailers. The company had also experienced stronger sales of step-up models in the last year, said Perry.

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