Manufacturers are promoting sales of flat-screen TVs through discounts and other incentives, and thanks to their efforts sales are rising.
However, now the TV makers have to stem the ongoing fall in prices.
To address the issue, the manufacturers are turning out a new generation of television sets that allow consumers to view videos transmitted via the Internet, while Net companies deliver a wider range of movie and drama titles through their video-on-demand services.
The age of Net-enabled TVs looms, and leading TV makers are weighing in to make this happen.
Panasonic Corp., Sony Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., for example, formed a joint venture called Actvila Corp. in 2006. The Tokyo firm operates a Web site that enables people to their Net TVs to watch new films and foreign dramas as well as popular shows aired in the past by major networks, including NHK and Fuji TV. Subscribers can also save the programming on their DVD recorders.
All of Hitachi’s Wooo TV sets released since April are compatible with the service, which is named acTVila.
“Our new TVs are targeted at people who would find it easier to access the Internet if they are doing it with their TVs even though they are not adept at using computers,” a Hitachi representative said.
Sony’s Net-enabled sets make it easier for customers to pay for the acTVila video-on-demand service. Viewers are assigned four-digit ID codes and type them in when picking videos they want to watch. Their credit cards are charged automatically.
All types of Panasonic flat-screen TVs can now access the Internet.
Because of the vigorous efforts by the manufacturers, TVs compatible with acTVila had sold a total of more than 1 million units by late May.
As more Net-enabled TVs hit the market, competition among Internet service providers is also heating up.
Among such companies, NTT Plala Inc. is boosting the title offerings of its video-on-demand service as well as delivering multichannel broadcasting and a karaoke singalong service. The Net service provider says business is thriving and it now aims to achieve its target of winning 1.1 million subscribers by next March, a year ahead of schedule.
Yahoo Japan Corp., the nation’s largest portal operator, took over the GyaO video streaming service from cable broadcaster Usen Corp. to bolster its online business.
At the moment, Yahoo serves mainly computer users but began offering part of its video content to owners of Sharp Corp.’s liquid crystal display TVs sold under the Aquos brand for free from late May with an eye toward expanding its business with TV viewers.
Cable TV firms SKY Perfect JSAT Corp. and Jupiter Telecommunications Co. have been the leaders in the fee-based multichannel TV service, but growth has been stunted compared with its U.S. counterpart.
Amid the spread of Net-enabled TVs, observers say companies are expected to provide an ever-growing variety of online content, which could give rise to an increase in fee-paying TV viewers. The diversification of online services will likely energize the new field of the TV business.
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