Samsung Bullish On Connected TVs
Launches new app with ESPN, holds developer contest
By Glen Dickson -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/11/2010 2:01:42 PM
Samsung sees "huge potential" in connected, or "smart" TVs, said Samsung Electronics America President Tim Baxter, who predicted that 6.5 million connected TVs will be sold in the U.S. this year, equivalent to about 20% of the overall TV market. Samsung, which Baxter claimed has a 60% share of the connected-TV market, first showed Internet-delivered content on its TVs in 2008 and integrated Yahoo's "widget" technology in 2009.
This year at CES the company launched "Samsung Apps," an initiative to get programmers and software developers to create connected TV applications, similar to the way they have created apps for smartphones like Apple's iPhone.
Since March, 50% of Samsung customers buying a connected TV or Blu-ray player have activated the "Samsung Apps" functionality, said Baxter. He said there are over 100 apps today, and forecast close to 200 apps by year-end.
"There is healthy consumer demand for apps, not just on the phone, but also on the TV set," said Baxter.
In that vein, Samsung is now offering exclusive apps for Hulu's subscription program service and for ESPN. The free ESPN app will deliver four categories of information to Samsung connected TVs including headlines, predictions on the winning team for major league sports, an extensive scoreboard feature and a selection of features from "ESPN The Magazine." Samsung will be promoting the ESPN application, and connected TVs in general, through a new marketing campaign featuring New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
The company has also built new premium apps, including an on-demand service that lets one watch 3D movie trailers and an educational app for children. It now offers a software developers kit (SDK) to open its TVs up to the creation of new apps and is holding a developer day on Aug. 31 in San Jose. Samsung is also conducting a contest, the "Free the TV Challenge", in which the developer of the winning app will receive $500,000. Finalists for the contest will demonstrate their apps at next January's CES show, where the winner will be selected.
Of course, stereoscopic 3D is the other new technology driving the purchase of new HDTV sets like Samsung's new 65-inch, 8000 series LED, which will be available in September for a list price of $5999. Baxter said that 3D-capable sets would account for 20% of the big-screen (40" and above) TV market this year, and by 2012 will account for 70%.
He and other Samsung execs described Samsung's ongoing 3D marketing partnership with Dreamworks Animation to create 3D Blu-ray discs, including the new 3D Blu-ray of the hit "How to Train Your Dragon." Samsung also announced new relationships with IMAX and Giant Screen Films to create 3D Blu-ray titles and said it will offer a 3D "starter kit," including three Blu-ray discs and a pair of 3D glasses, to consumers buying a Samsung 3D-capable TV and 3D Blu-ray player.
Samsung hasn't to date sponsored any TV network content in 3D such as live sports, as its competitors Sony, LG and Panasonic have done. Samsung SVP of Home Entertainment John Revie said the company has had conversations with programmers about underwriting the cost of producing 3D fare, but hasn't reached any deals.
"To date, we haven't done it," said Revie. "But it doesn't mean we wouldn't in the future."
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