CES: Sony Plans IPTV Hookup With Time Warner Cable

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Time Warner Cable will deliver its entire video programming lineup to customers with Sony's Internet-connected Bravia HDTVs this year, the consumer-electronics giant announced at the Consumer Electronics Show.

TWC customers with certain broadband-connected Bravia TVs will be able to access programming, delivered over Internet protocol, "without the need for a set-top," Phil Molyneux, president of Sony Electronics USA, said at a press conference Wednesday.

Molyneux thanked Time Warner Cable chairman, president and CEO Glenn Britt -- who was at the event but didn't make a presentation -- for his help on the initiative.

Asked for more information after the event, Time Warner Cable spokesman Justin Venech said the MSO expects to deliver the capability for Sony HDTVs in 2011 but otherwise is not providing technical details on how the feature will be delivered. Time Warner Cable had reportedly begun testing out Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV platform in its Los Angeles system last year.

Meanwhile, Sony was back beating the drum for 3D louder than ever, even after 2010 sales of 3DTVs were by all accounts below industry expectations.

"3D is far more than a science-fiction gimmick," Sony president and CEO Sir Howard Stringer said at the event. "3D mirrors the experience of the world itself."

Sony, in conjunction with partners Discovery Communications and IMAX, unveiled the name of their 3D cable network -- 3net -- although they did not announce any distribution partners. Stringer, underscoring Sony's commitment to 3D, said Sony Pictures Entertainment has a full slate of three-dimensional theatrical releases set for 2011, including The Green Hornet, Men in Black 3, The Smurfs and Spider-Man in 3D.

Stringer alluded to past innovations in TV technology, including color TV and HD, pointing out that "those were greeted with initial skepticism."

Pointing to Sony's opportunity to deliver content over the Internet to devices, Stringer said that by March the company will have sold more than 50 million Internet-enabled TVs, Blu-ray Disc players and PlayStation 3 consoles. It also has 60 million registered accounts for the PlayStation Network.

Sony's Net-connected devices provide "well beyond the content offered by cable and satellite companies," Stringer said.

This year the company plans to expand its Internet video-on-demand service, Qriocity (pronounced "curiosity"), and will roll out Music Unlimited, a multiplatform music service with 6 million songs from all major labels, in the U.S. in 2011. Sony's Net-connected HDTVs already provide access to Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video on Demand and YouTube.

To promote its Internet-connected devices, which include a Google TV-based HDTV and Blu-ray player, Sony will debut an ad campaign this year with the tagline "Television Redefined: Sony Internet TV."

All told, Sony's 2011 line of Bravia LCD HDTVs includes 16 new 3D-capable and 22 Internet-connected models. At CES, Sony is showing three pre-production models of autostereoscopic, glasses-free 3D televisions - 24.5-, 46- and 56-inch models. The company also has worked up prototypes of a head-mounted 3D display and a portable 3D DVD player that requires no glasses.

Sony also is extending 3D to its other product lines. Highlights include the HDR-TD10 3D Handycam camcorder, billed as the world's first 3D camcorder to record in "double full HD," or 1920x1080 times two, as well as a 3D-compatible Vaio PC and digital cameras that can take stereoscopic images.

In 2010, "we established ourselves as the industry leader because we span the ecosystem" from content to displays, Stringer said. "In 2011, 3D becomes personal."

To kick off the event, Sony showed a 3D clip of The Green Hornet, set to open on Jan. 14. Then the movie's costars, Seth Rogen and Jay Chou, rolled onto the stage with Stringer in the tricked-out, machine-gun-mounted beater the duo drive in Hornet.

Stringer quipped, "Seth wants this car to be a Sony consumer product."

"The Green Hornet has already generated a lot of buzz," Stringer added -- eliciting groans from the crowd. "Well, what the hell," he said with a grin.

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