Panasonic and Comcast Announce Industry-First Agreement for Enhanced OCAP HD-DVR Set-Top Boxes and OCAP Software License
Panasonic, the principal U.S. subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC), and Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSK, “CMCSA) announced the industry’s first agreement for the manufacture and deployment of Comcast’s new series of digital cable set-top boxes, referred to as “RNG.” These set-top boxes will be compliant with the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) specifications. In another industry first, the companies have agreed to make Panasonic’s OCAP middleware available to Comcast, as well as to jointly explore and develop extensions to the OCAP specifications. The new boxes and software will improve and simplify the consumer’s home entertainment experience.
Under the agreement, Panasonic will supply Comcast with advanced digital cable set-top boxes with the processing power and advanced functionality that enables the kind of performance, flexibility and ease of use that consumers want. The Panasonic digital set-top boxes will have high-definition digital video recording (DVR) capabilities with a minimum of 250 GB storage capacity, which essentially doubles the amount of DVR storage currently available on Comcast DVR set-top boxes. In addition, these boxes will have both MPEG-2 and H.264 decoder capabilities. The H.264 capabilities will offer higher video compression rates and could let consumers use their televisions to enjoy media elements commonly available on the Internet.
The new set-top boxes are the result of Comcast’s efforts to develop next-generation devices that bring greater efficiencies to today’s cable infrastructure, while adding advanced functionality such as USB 2.0 that will let consumers connect other media devices, such as digital cameras or music players, to their televisions. Panasonic will manufacture and supply Comcast with 250,000 HD-DVR set-top boxes. Comcast will have the option to acquire up to a total of one million set-top boxes in the first year, with options for additional boxes in subsequent years. The initial 250,000 set-top boxes will be supplied with Panasonic’s OCAP middleware.
OCAP is a middleware software standard that enables application developers to create new interactive services that will run on a broad range of advanced digital set top boxes and cable-ready TVs. Among the OCAP software extensions the companies will develop are those that enable Comcast-deployed set-top boxes to easily interact with a wide variety of Panasonic Consumer Electronics (CE) devices ” such as plasma TVs, home theater systems and DVD recorders that will be equipped with Panasonic’s HDAVI Control capability. HDAVI Control capability will let consumers activate and operate all devices in a home theater, including the digital cable set-top, with a single remote and through a unified user interface.
“Panasonic’s goal is to make the home cable environment friendly to networked consumer electronics,” said Yoshi Yamada, Chairman and CEO of Panasonic Corporation of North America. “Panasonic and Comcast are not just talking about it. We are delivering on the promise that the digital future will be easy to use.”
Brian Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast, said, “Comcast is pleased to take this groundbreaking step with Panasonic toward offering products that deliver sophisticated yet simple interactive digital services. This partnership, the first of its kind in the industry, and the technological advances it supports, will enhance the consumers’ viewing experiences by letting them control their home theater experience with one remote and is an important next step in our efforts to make OCAP a reality.”
Currently, operating a cable set-top box with CE devices requires individual remote controls and uses multiple user interfaces. With the new OCAP-enabled interactive digital devices, Comcast customers will be able to control the functions of their digital cable set-top boxes and Panasonic home theater equipment with HDAVI Control capability through a single remote control and interface. The companies also expect to work together to jointly develop future consumer applications.
Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA, CMCSK) (http://www.comcast.com) is the nation’s leading provider of cable, entertainment and communications products and services. With 21.4 million cable customers, 8.1 million high-speed Internet customers, and 1.2 million voice customers, Comcast is principally involved in the development, management and operation of broadband cable networks and in the delivery of programming content.
The Company’s content networks and investments include E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, The Golf Channel, OLN, G4, AZN Television, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One and four regional Comcast SportsNets. The Company also has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectacor, whose major holdings include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and two large multipurpose arenas in Philadelphia. Comcast Class A common stock and Class A Special common stock trade on The NASDAQ Stock Market under the symbols CMCSA and CMCSK, respectively.
Based in Secaucus, NJ, Panasonic Corporation of North America markets a broad line of digital and other electronics products for consumer, business and industrial use. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC) of Japan, and the hub of Panasonic’s U.S. marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. Information about Panasonic and its products is available at www.panasonic.com. Additional company information for journalists is available at panasonic.com/pressroom.