GVG goes to the mall

Hi-def servers will be used in high-end advertising displays

Continuing its campaign to find new business outside the traditional broadcast market, Grass Valley Group has snagged a contract to install its Profile video servers in shopping malls across the country.

Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Enterprise Broadcasting Corp. (EBC) has selected Grass Valley's Profile XP server to play back HDTV programming for its Network Event Centers, luxury theaters that will feature a 23-foot HDTV screen to peddle high-end consumer goods and services, such as luxury cars and resort vacations. EBC plans to roll out the theaters, which will also include leather seats with touch-screen terminals for on-site shopping, in first quarter 2001 in New York, Chicago, Washington, Detroit and Silicon Valley. The 5-year-old company counts financial firm Ernst & Young as an equity partner and has signed a deal with mall owner and developer Taubman Co. to install EBC theaters in at least half its 30 malls nationwide.

EBC will use Profiles to play out programming from its network operations center in Scotts Valley. The programming will be distributed via satellite, received and stored on Profiles at the centers. Besides the projection screen, each center will have two HDTV monitors in the mall outside the theater, one displaying a program guide and the other showing highlights. The Profile will generate all three HDTV feeds and will provide a fourth channel for redundancy.

EBC is the brainchild of Tom Wade, a cabinet retailer who grew disappointed with the effectiveness of traditional TV advertising in selling his big-ticket items. After experimenting with 3-D animation on a big screen at a company called Cybertron, Wade got turned on to the benefits of HDTV and formed EBC. Partners include Sony (HDTV production equipment) and JVC (HDTV projectors).

Brian Cabeceiras, director of strategic business development for Grass Valley, says the EBC deal is "huge for us" in demonstrating how the manufacturer's products can function in a non-broadcast environment.