CES: Panasonic Partners With Skype, DirecTV

Deals will bring videoconferencing and 3D TV content to Panasonic televisions.

Antone Gonsalves

January 8, 2010

2 Min Read
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Panasonic has announced separate partnerships with Skype and DirecTV to bring videoconferencing and 3D programming, respectively, to its latest Viera high-definition televisions.

Under the Skype partnership, Panasonic will enable buyers of Viera Cast HDTVS, available in the spring, to make voice and video calls to other Skype subscribers. In addition, users will be able to use the Internet telephony service to make calls to landlines or mobile phones, receive calls over their Skype numbers and set up voice conference calls with up to 24 other parties.

To make video-calling possible, Panasonic will sell separately a specially designed camera that can be plugged into a Viera Cast set. The camera includes a microphone system that can pick up sound from "couch distance" and deliver up to 720p video quality, depending on the user's internet bandwidth, Panasonic said.

Viera Cast TVs are Internet-enabled and do not require an external box or PC to access the Web. Other Web-based offerings on the sets include Amazon Video On Demand, Google's YouTube video and Picasa photo services, and Bloomberg news.

Under the DirecTV partnership disclosed Wednesday, Panasonic will be the exclusive sponsor of DirecTV's 3D channels, which will deliver movies, sports and other entertainment from content producers, including CBS, Fox Sports/FSN, NBC Universal, Turner Broadcasing System and others. The deal allows Panasonic to feature its branding on all DirecTV 3D channels for one year.

DirecTV, a satellite TV provider, plans to distribute in June at no charge a software upgrade that will enable its subscribers to access 3D content on 3D TVs, including Panasonic's Viera Full set. DirecTV expects 3D content to be rolled out this year and in 2011.

Panasonic announced the partnerships at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where many TV manufacturers have been demonstrating 3D products, which the industry hopes will grow in popularity among consumers.

Driving the optimism is the increasing number of 3D Hollywood movies, some of which have been very popular. Four of the 10 top-grossing films last year were presented in 3D.

In addition, entertainment companies announced this week the launch of two 3D networks. One is a joint venture of Sony, Discovery Communications, and IMAX, and the other is from Walt Disney's ESPN.

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