Las Vegas -- An
uptick in high-definition production and infrastructure upgrades has boosted
demand for HD equipment since the beginning of the year, according to camera
and lens makers who exhibited at the National Association of Broacasters convention
"At the show, we've seen a tremendous interest in HD
purchases in the next three to nine months," said Sean Moran, national sales
manager for the Broadcast & Professional division of Hitachi Kokusai
Electric America. "It is definitely increased from last year."
Added Robert Harris, of Panasonic Solutions Co.'s Media
& Production Services unit: "Overall attendance at the show looks like it
is up and our business is starting to pick up as well. We can definitely see
more interest in HD upgrades,"
Those sentiments were supported by a number of sales
announced shortly before or during the show. Panasonic, for example, announced
that NBC Universal's Local Media Group, Telemundo and CNBC
would standardize all electronic newsgathering around Panasonic's P2 HD solid-state
Separately, the Women's National Basketball Association and
the NBA Development League -- the National Basketball Association's minor
league -- said they would use Panasonic's AG HPX300 P2 camcorders to shoot
games in HD, which would be available on its WNBA.com and NBA.com/dleague
Univision also agreed to acquire Panasonic's P2 HD shoulder
mounted camcorders, a variety of portable recorders and players, and the new
AG-MSU10 P2 Media Storage units when they become available. As part of the deal,
Univision will be adopting P2 HD throughout its operations for field production
and newsgathering and will use the AJ-HPX3000 P2 HD camcorders to broadcast the
FIFA World Cup Soccer.
Univision, which is making a major upgrade to HD for its
coverage of the World Cup this summer, also agreed to purchased the Ikegami
Tapeless GFCAM 2/3-inch HD camcorders for in-studio production.
Also at the show, JVC Professional Products said Nextstar
Broadcasting Group would standardize on the JVC ProHD platform using JVC GY-HM790,
GyHM700 and GY-HM100 ProHD camcorders in at least eight stations in 2010 as
part of the digital upgrades to its local newsrooms.
Elsewhere, JVC announced that KNXV in Phoenix
and KUTV in Salt Lake City had
purchased JVC ProHD GY-HM700 camcorders.
Despite these encouraging signs, executives cautioned that
the advertising climate for broadcasters remains difficult.
"I don't think it will scream up again, but we have leveled
out and it will slowly start climbing," said Ikegami Electronics USA director
of sales and marketing Teri A. Zastrow.
Those cost constraints made less-expensive HD camcorders a
particularly hot item at the show. "The sweet spot seems to be around the
$10,000 area," noted Panasonic's Harris.
Shortly before the market, Panasonic launched its AG-HPX370
P2 HD camcorder with 10 bit 4:2:2 AVC-Intra
recording, priced at $11,700. "We've seen a lot of interest at the market in
the HPX370," Harris said.
Other camera manufacturers introducing lower-cost cameras
capable of producing high-quality HD images included JVC and Canon.
At the show, Canon made its first foray into this segment of
the market with the launch of its new XF305 and XF300 professional camcorders that
will ship in June of 2010 at under $8,000. The cameras both utilize a 4:2:2
50Mbps codec for capturing and recording native 1920-by-1080 video onto compact
flash cards. "It's the right product at the right time," noted Chuck Westfall,
technical adviser, education, Consumer Imaging Group Professional Products
Marketing at Canon USA.
These lower-cost products are also allowing vendors to
expand sales beyond the major broadcast stations and networks into smaller
broadcasters and the educational, religious and government sectors that have
"We remain strong in the broadcast and production
market because we have a camera that can suit every need, but broadcast has
been slow this last year, so we've have had to check out other avenues," Ikegami's