LG Delivers Netflix-enabled HDTV Units11 Jun, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
The digital divide between Hollywood and the household narrowed June 11 when LG Electronics said it had delivered to retailers the first new high-definition television models embedded directly with Netflix streaming software.
First announced at CES, the new LG TV sets include a 47-inch LCD HDTV (model 47LH50) and 50-inch plasma HDTV (model 50PS80) with proprietary NetCast entertainment access software. A 42-inch LCD (model 42LH50) and 60-inch plasma (model 60PS80) are slated to ship this summer.
South Korea-based LG and Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix in 2008 first broached digital distribution of movies into the home with the introduction of a Web-enabled Blu-ray player that included Netflix streaming. Since then LG has introduced two additional BD players (models BD370 and BD390) and separate networked home theater systems (models LHB953 and LHB977) that include Netflix streaming.
The BD390 player includes Wi-Fi functionality that allows movies streaming into rooms without broadband connectivity.
“With 2.5 million North American households looking to purchase a networked TV, incorporating broadband connectivity into our new HDTV units became a natural progression of our partnership with Netflix,” said Peter Reiner, SVP, marketing and strategy, LG Electronics USA. “LG's newest HDTVs make it easier than ever to access thousands of movies and TV shows instantly.”
Independent analyst Rob Enderle said Web-enabled TVs represent the foundation for decoupling conventional television from cable and antenna connections.
“This will likely change the landscape of the media market dramatically and removes one of the barriers to wider streaming content adoption: the dreaded set-top box,” Enderle said.
Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter believes Netflix can reach 10% household penetration via streaming partnerships with LG Electronics, Microsoft, Samsung and others.
Richard Doherty, director of The Envisioneering Group in Seaford, N.Y., said the LG TVs represent the first legitimate Web-based on-demand entertainment into the home. He said the units would help demystify accessing Internet-based content to the average consumer.
“We think it will be seen very positively by the studios,” Doherty said. “This is direct to the screen and the viewers’ eyes. We are expecting Sony and others to have box-less Internet distribution by the holidays.”