Panasonic Boosts Venue Support With New Sports and Entertainment Division

PMEC aims to go beyond LED sales to a total-stadium approach

Continuing to provide technologies to boost immersive engagement in sports and entertainment venues, Panasonic Corp. of North America has launched the Panasonic Media Entertainment Co. (PMEC) to supply and support venue audiovisual, broadcast, and lighting technology.

The new sales division will be based at the corporation’s Newark, NJ, headquarters and will operate across the Denver, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Orlando offices of its recent A/V-integration and video-production acquisitions.

With North America generating about 50% of the total $150 billion media entertainment business, PMEC targets the sports-venue market in particular. As arenas and stadiums increasingly become giant canvases for video and as projection mapping sweeps across fields and rinks, Panasonic is able to provide not just audiovisual technology but also the modern LED lighting required for instantaneous on-off to get a stadium to full darkness for the show and back to full brightness for the game.

Led by President Masaharu Nakayama, PMEC is being launched in conjunction with the debut of Panasonic Connected Solutions Co. (CSC), which replaces the former AVC Networks Co. with a B2B offering focused on customer relationships and IoT technology. President of CSC will be Yasuyuki Higuchi, who most recently was head of Microsoft Japan.

The shift away from product sales to a solutions focus is a big one, and one that PMEC is built to accomplish, according to Masaki Arizono, who, after 23 years of leadership experience with Panasonic’s commercial audiovisual-products, is leading CSC’s Media Entertainment Business Division, which will work closely with PMEC.

PMEC will launch with the internal transfer of 140 employees from Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America. Later this year, nearly 100 staffers from the Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co. (PESCO), which includes team members from the ProMedia and TS Sports acquisitions, will join the new venture.

This is just the start, Arizono says: “We are expecting to grow, so we are aiming to hire many more people, especially engineers.”

A long-time sponsor of the Olympics, Panasonic has big plans for the 2020 Tokyo Games, and PMEC is a big part of that. Having for the first time supplied not only the equipment but also operations support for the Opening Ceremony at Rio 2016, Panasonic is forging ahead with large-scale plans for the new National Stadium in Tokyo.

The total-stadium approach has already been achieved by Panasonic in Japan, chiefly with the Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi baseball venue in Sendai, and in Europe. In the U.S., too, PESCO has expanded beyond sales of large-scale LED-displays in nearly 200 stadiums to also handle integration and maintenance services in collaboration with its consultant and system-integration partners.

“We want to expand more based on their current business, not only just through LED display,” Arizono explains. “We have core technologies for professional camera capture, switching, editing, recording, and distribution through broadcast, IPTV, or public viewing.

With an eye toward the future, Panasonic will show its “Connected Stadium” concept at NAB 2017, featuring projection mapping and projection on glass to display graphics and stats to those watching games through windows in suites. The corporation will also showcase its mega inflatable Ballooncam drone, which captures crowd footage and displays video on its blimp-like surfaces and feeds the content to networked displays in the stadium.

Further in sports-venue–experience enhancement, PMEC is looking to incorporate Panasonic’s in-seat mobile-app ordering technology and WiFi communications solutions. Long-term goals include further development of a parking solution that will deploy the manufacturer’s surveillance cameras, sensors, and analytics software to provide real-time data on space availability or congestion issues.

With ambitious vision for growth, PMEC has a technology roadmap that includes offerings in new categories. More news will come in the next year or so, Arizono says. “We want to contribute to the business of entertainment in the U.S., to change it.”

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