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Panasonic, in its effort to re-define the TV experience, announced today at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show a new wave of applications and features that will debut on its Viera Connect Smart Viera HDTV platform including more robust options for streaming video content via leading global distribution platforms, unique social networking features, a fully-integrated music app, and unique apps for children, as well as intuitive and broader search features designed to make the user experience fast, easy and more accessible.
Viera Connect is Panasonic's connected TV platform which enables owners of Viera Connect-enabled HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc Players and Home Theater Systems access to a wide range of internet-based video-on-demand content and applications covering everything from news and fitness, to social networking and online gaming. Viera Connect requires no external box or PC and is accessed via a single button on the television remote control.
To promote third-party developer participation, Panasonic introduced in 2011 the Viera Connect Developer's portal where Viera Connect SDK and API are provided to third-party developers who wish to apply to submit apps for inclusion on the Viera Connect Smart Viera platform and Panasonic's Middleware technology is also made available to connected device manufacturers.
In 2011, Panasonic also unveiled Viera Connect Market, a service which allows consumers to personalize their Viera Connect experience via a rich catalog of apps from third-party application developers. The Viera Connect Market was also among the first IPTV platforms to sell products including Panasonic LUMIX Digital Cameras and Camcorders, and SD Memory Cards as well as third-party peripherals including game controllers.
New Apps for 2012
Panasonic's 2012 additions will feature exciting new apps for children, music enthusiasts, on-line shoppers, and movie/TV lovers adding to an already robust line-up of interactive apps.
Myspace TV - Exclusive to Panasonic Viera Connect-enabled Smart Viera HDTVs, Myspace TV is a new service that makes the television experience social, putting viewers in control by allowing them to discover, share and comment on their favorite television programs virtually. Initial channels on Myspace TV will be music-focused, leveraging Myspace's unparalleled music rights and leading library of 100,000 music videos and 42 million songs. Myspace TV will expand beyond music to encompass movies, sports and reality channels, with a growing lineup of today's most popular broadcast and on-demand content. The service fully integrates social and television in new ways that adds a dimension to content discovery and evolves the traditional television experience.
Disney Publishing Worldwide - Disney Publishing and Panasonic are in negotiations to launch an app on Panasonic Viera Connect Smart TVs, which would give families access to a library of interactive stories and comics featuring Cinderella, Mickey Mouse, and more.
YouTube on TV - YouTube was among the first apps available when Panasonic's IPTV feature debuted in 2008 featuring access to select areas of YouTube. In 2012, Viera Connect will feature a completely new UI and redesign with full access to the YouTube user experience previously enjoyed only via the web. Viera Connect-enabled TVs will now give users access to YouTube's full library of user postings, music videos, movies, and 100 channels of original programming.
Flixster — Movies and TV shows stored in the cloud can now be easily streamed directly to Viera Connect-enabled HDTVs and Blu-ray products through a new Flixster application coming this year. Through the app, consumers will also be able to access one of the world's largest databases of information on movies and TV shows
Miramax - The Miramax App will be one of the new apps to join Viera Connect in 2012, enabling users to access Miramax's library of critically-acclaimed films. The Miramax App will include special social features such as clip sharing, games, and bonus content to enhance the viewing experience of Miramax's one-of-a-kind library. Viera Connect's growing library already includes Amazon Instant Video, Netflix and Hulu Plus.
HSN - The HSN Shop by Remote® app for Panasonic Viera Connect-enabled devices offers consumers the opportunity to browse and shop from thousands of brand name products. Utilizing HSN's patented Shop by Remote technology, this highly advanced shopping app allows viewers to get detailed product information, read customer reviews, watch video demonstrations and then make a purchase, all with just a few clicks of their remote from their Viera Connect-enabled HDTV or Blu-ray Disc player.
SnagFilms - The new SnagFilms app on Viera Connect-enabled devices provides hundreds of movies, on demand, for free, from SnagFilms' acclaimed library of independent films. Film fans can choose from a broad selection of movies — from documentaries to dramas, comedies to thrillers, award-winners to rare finds, all free to view.
New Features and Technologies for 2012
In addition to expansive new apps, Viera Connect will also offer a range of exciting new features which will offer users greater flexibility, expansion of current features and ease-of-use in locating specific content. Highlighting Viera Connect's new features in 2012 will be:
Web Browser - In 2012 Viera Connect will offer users an optimized-for-TV web browser that will add a new dimension to the IPTV experience.
Viera Remote App Version 2.0 - The Viera Remote App lets you use a smartphone or tablet device as a remote control. In addition to the intuitive tapping and flick-based operations of the previous version, Version 2.0 links with new browsers and content while text input is easy via familiar keyboard operation.
Expanded Social Network TV - In 2011, Viera Connect was the first to launch a Social Network TV feature which enabled viewers to watch TV while also using their Twitter and Facebook feeds simultaneously on the same screen. In 2012, Viera Connect will expand this unique feature further by introducing a similar function for Skype which will allow users to watch live TV while also using the Viera Connect Skype video calling feature in a split screen format.
TV.com - New for 2012 is CBS Interactive's TV.com, a search and recommendations feature which will give users a way to quickly find the best way to access the video content they desire and begin viewing it via Viera Connect. TV.com also enables users to learn more about specific video content and the actors involved and recommends additional titles based upon a user's search criteria.
Ooyala - In 2012, Viera Connect will include Ooyala, a leading provider of digital video technology, analytics and services, which will enable video publishers to easily reach viewing audiences through the Panasonic Viera Connect Smart TV platform. Building on its universal syndication solution that quickly and cost-effectively delivers content to smartphones, tablets and other devices, Ooyala now gives premium video publishers seamless access to connected living rooms. Ooyala's new syndication platform also enables connected TV providers to easily scale distribution of new custom content offerings.
Brightcove - In 2012, the Viera Connect Smart TV platform will integrate with Brightcove Video Cloud online video platform, enabling more than 3,600 Video Cloud customers around the world to extend the reach of their online video initiatives to Panasonic devices and provide consumers with direct access to a range of high quality video content in their living room.
"Year after year Panasonic's Viera Connect Smart TV platform has continued to expand rapidly but with a singular focus to deliver to our Smart Viera HDTV and Blu-ray Disc Player owners an extremely robust and interactive connected TV experience that can be customized and enjoyed on their large-screen HDTVs," said Merwan Mereby, Panasonic's Vice President of Interactive Content & Services. "In 2012, Panasonic is proud to strategically partner with cutting-edge developers, brands and technologies that will take the Viera Connect Smart Viera platform to new levels of connectivity, content access, and engaging experiences for consumers."
An Already Impressive Line-up of Apps
First introduced in 2008, Panasonic's Viera Connect offerings already include a robust collection of many of the most popular applications for social networking (including Skype voice and video calling, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter), video content (including Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Ustream), professional sports (including FOX Sports, MLS Matchday Live, NBA Game Time, and NHL Game Center), gaming (Accedo Funspot, Gameloft, and PlayJam), fitness (including BodyMedia, iFit, and Withings), music (including Pandora and Shoutcast), news and information (including AccuWeather, Associated Press, and WSJ Live) and more.
Viera Connect Availability
More than 60 per cent of Panasonic's 2012 line of Viera HDTVs will feature full or limited access to Viera Connect features. Full Viera Connect access will be available on a wide range of Viera® HDTVs, Blu-ray Disc Players and Home Theater Systems including:
Viera Plasma HDTV — VT50, GT50, ST50, and UT50 Series models
Viera LED HDTV — WT50, DT50, ET5, E50, and E5 Series models
Blu-ray Disc Players — DMP-BBT01, DMP-BDT500, DMP-BDT320, DMP-BDT220
Home Theater Systems - SC-BTT490, SC-BTT195, SC-BTT19
USB connectivity on Viera Connect-enabled HDTVs also enables the addition of a wireless LAN adaptor (802.11b or faster), a keyboard for more efficient navigation and communication, and USB memory which supports AVCHD video and JPEG photos. There is no fee to use the Viera Connect functionality.