Disney, Panasonic Take To The Road

With consumers bedazzled by choices of HDTV formats, the Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment and Panasonic are putting their heft behind the latter's Blu-ray technology for HDTV.

The companies are launching a national grassroots "Magical Blu-ray Tour" to promote Blu-ray at 18 malls nationwide to promote the technology with a huge exhibit of interactive kiosks, viewing stations and a small theater that shows Blu-ray in action.

The issue for Disney and Panasonic is that while Blu-ray has about 70% market share in high-definition content, many consumers don't use Blu-ray discs. According to Durham, N.H.-based Leichtman Research Group, of the nearly 24 million households with HDTVs, only about half of them watch high-definition programs because many don't realize they have to subscribe to a special service.

"There are so many high-definition-enabled households not taking full advantage of its capabilities, and we hope to change that with the Disney Magical Blu-ray Tour," says Dick Cook, chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, in a release.



The tour begins in Los Angeles and will show, among other things, Disney/Pixar films like "Cars" and "Meet the Robinsons" in HDTV. There will also be live demos, with up to 12 interactive stations. It will also visit San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Ore., Seattle, Washington, D.C. and other major markets.

Visitors in each market will be able to register to win a Blu-ray home entertainment package, including a player and library of Disney Blu-ray discs.

Leichtman Research Group also said in a survey last fall that one in six U.S. households now has at least one high-definition-capable TV, versus one out of every 14 households just two years ago. The annual income of HDTV households is 42% above average. Twenty-six percent of households with annual incomes of more than $50,000 have HDTVs, versus 7% of households with annual incomes less than $50,000.

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