Home entertainment – Sony-style training

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Numbers speak for themselves. Over 1,600 retailers attended Sony’s Home 2010 roadshow which ran from 1 March until 15 April in eight locations throughout the country from Weybridge in Hampshire to Stirling, as well as Dublin. The roadshow focused on this year’s most exciting technologies for consumers and the great retail opportunities for the dealers:  Freeview HD, 3DTV and TV on demand in the shape of Bravia Internet Video.

The course was led by Sam Hair, Sony UK manager for home entertainment, who was supported by eight members of the Sony training team.

Sam began by explaining that this year’s range of Sony home entertainment products had the quickest turn around – from design to production – of any Sony product lines so far. This no doubt reflected the competitive situation in the market but also Sony’s desire to offer customers the latest technologies in a record time and give retailers – a range of unprecedented sales opportunities. These opportunities come not without challenges, such as for example consumers’ confusion about the accessibility and delivery of Freeview HD – hence the training course was also set to unravel them.

Sony will be supporting its latest home entertainment product range with a £26 million marketing budget which will stretch over three television campaigns and separate promotions focused on World Cup opportunities.

Freeview HD opportunities

In time for the World Cup, 49% of homes in the UK will have undergone digital switchover but they will need Freeview HD to take advantage of HD broadcasts. That’s why Sony was first to the market with the integrated Freeview HD TVs which will give the users a picture that is “five times better” due to the new transmission technology (DVB-T and DVB-T2) and highly improved sound, thanks to Dolby Digital Plus.

Freeview HD channels can be transmitted with up to 5.1 surround sound products which, Sam stressed, is a big retail opportunity to sell up, also explaining to consumers that integrated Freeview HD TV means less boxes in the living room. He also advised that the current HD channel choice includes BBC-HD, 4D and ITV 1 HD and suggested that for customers interested in Freeview HD TV, retailers can check the Freeview coverage in their area by texting the customer’s house number and a postcode to 80560 or online: www.freeview.co.uk.

Bravia Internet Video

Developing Bravia Internet Video, Sony has responded to the changing viewing patterns and fast growing popularity of TV on demand. For example, during the last 12 months, 27% of TV viewers in the UK have watched repeat services, such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Player. Moreover, staggering 10 thousand hours of video is uploaded onto YouTube every hour. Therefore 80% of the 2010 Bravia range will have Internet Video functionality which will allow users to access video sharing sites, like YouTube.

Moreover Sony has formed a partnership with LoveFilm on the basis of which the owners of the latest Bravia TV will have access to a wide range of LoveFilm services, such as free film trailers, or will be able to take advantage of a two-week free trial of LoveFilm membership with a £10 voucher to use on future hire of films.

Bravia Internet Widgets should also have great customer appeal. These are available on the new models of Bravia televisions which in addition to ‘functional’ links to news, weather or sport, will provide access to Twitter, Facebook, eBay, Flickr and various games. There will also be Sony-specific widgets, such as FIFA or Playjam – for gaming.

The X factor – 3D television

This latest and perhaps most exciting television development should give customers a totally new dimension and feel to games, movies and sport.

Sam Hair stressed, however, that people coming into the stores wishing to experience 3D TV (and ready to play a premium for it) expect to get excited about this new technology hence creating the ‘retail theatre’ around it is more vital than ever before. Sony will be providing special PoS stands which will help retailers to achieve this. 3D TV will also offer an opportunity to sell Sony’s active shutter glasses – essential for watching Bravia 3D – at approximately £100 for a pair. They will work with transmitters positioned under the 3D TV and will be battery charged (lasting approximately 100 hours). The LX9 lifestyle model of Bravia 3D  will come with three pairs of active shutter glass in a choice of three colours – black, blue and pink – hopefully satisfying the tastes of the whole family.

It’s worth remembering, however, that content will be key for driving 3DTV sales. Yet the good news is that in addition to films a number of independent broadcasters are already recording sports and news events in this format.

Sam also mentioned that Sony is very proud to have three distinctive USPs of 3D television: Sony 3DTV will come in Full HD, with 200Hz and many 3D films would have been made with Sony 3D cameras.

After the presentation the participants were divided into four groups and treated to demonstrations of new products and technologies – to appreciate their benefits and the ‘wow’ factor.

The retailers – mostly independent dealers – considered the Sony training session a good investment of their time as the feedback received by Sony clearly suggests: “Everyone teaching at this show knew what they were doing. This makes a big difference. Please keep the knowledgeable people training.”

The Sony training team is already planning new courses, the details of which will be announced shortly.

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