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SterKinekor and Sony Pictures leverage HD TV gap

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Blu-ray is gaining impetus in the South African market and SterKinekor Home
Entertainment's (SKHE) recent inroad into rental outlets with Sony Pictures
Blu-ray titles is further supporting the demand.

In fact, new features and titles seem to be instrumental in driving
increased interest in Blu-ray.
SKHE's strong marketing efforts have not only grown sales, however, it's won
the company three awards from Sony. And with an HD TV broadcasting gap that
can be filled with Blu-ray titles, SKHE is looking forward to another award
winning year.
SKHE recently attended the Sony European Marketing conference for
International Licensees for EMEA in Iceland where successful regions were
recognised for their efforts, the company's strategy for 2008/2009 was
unveiled and new developments such as BD Live and Sony's 'Green' initiative
were highlighted.
South Africa, one of 25 countries within the EMEA region, is faring
extremely well with its efforts to drive Blu-ray adoption and was recognised
in three areas. Voted best local office by Sony Los Angeles (head office)
and Sony London (home office), SKHE South Africa received the Sony Pictures
Home Entertainment Critics Choice Award. It also received the Blu-ray/Sony
United Award for excellence in driving the new format in conjunction with
Sony sister companies.
Nelmari Claassens, Sony Pictures marketing manager at SKHE, received the
Blu-ray Excellence Award for her groundbreaking contributions in making
South Africa a leader in the format. This was achieved through marketing
drives which saw significant sales results within the first year, ranking
SKHE first in emerging markets for a new format
Says Claassen: "My passion and a firm belief in the Blu-ray format and its
capabilities have driven the results we achieved with our Sony Pictures
Blu-ray titles and the assistance received from Sony Electronics SA.
"Although SA is an emerging market with generally, not much disposable
income, we found the higher LSM groups who have a keen appreciation for a
complete home theatre experience – of which Blu-ray is a key component –
were avid purchasers of the technology and boosted our sales.  Sales were
further driven by the lowered price point of Blu-ray hardware (players),
which makes this technology more affordable."
Sony and SKHE are not resting on their laurels, however. Their new marketing
strategy for Blu-ray in South Africa will see them leverage the growing
interest in High Definition TV (HDTV), a digital format that enhances the
image to almost 3D quality.
Says Claassens: "In the United States, HD-ready TV (720p lines) screen
penetration has reached the 35% mark and is expected to reach 92% by 2012.
This is in line with the development and availability of HD broadcasts. In
Europe and South Africa, the pace of HD broadcasting is slower. While the
interest and adoption of HD-ready TV screens is expected to grow, we expect
to see greater take up of the technology in the next couple of years when
the 2010 Soccer World Cup matches can be expected to be broadcast in HD."
Meantime, entertainment enthusiasts are looking to Blu-ray to leverage the
full benefits of their HD-ready or HDTVs. For the owner of an HDTV, it is
imperative to have a Blu-ray player as this is currently the only way for
them to experience true HD quality.  SKHE plans to drive Blu-ray sales with
aggressive campaigns in conjunction with Sony Electronics SA and Sony
Playstation.
Claassens adds: "We will see more and more enhancements with Blu-ray
technology and new features such as Blu-ray Disc Live (BD-Live), a
technology that enables interactive viewing and downloading of additional
related content over the Internet.  This feature is available on 'Walk Hard:
The Dewey Cox Story' and 'The 6th Day'.  However, even greater value-adds
can soon be expected from the BD-Live feature.
"For example, a BD Live interactive trivia game will soon be available with
the release of 'Men in Black' (MIB) in August this year, where you can
answer all the MIB trivia questions and compete with other fans over the
Internet. In addition, you can watch the movie with an alien language
commentary track.
On a final green note, Sony Corporation announced at the conference that in
its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions the company will actively
promoting the use of solar, wind, geothermal and biomass power generation in
all its group companies worldwide.
Commented Dieter Daum, president Sony Disc and Digital Solutions at the
conference: "If we want out children and grandchildren to enjoy this natural
splendour then we must act decisively. Environmental protection has been a
key consideration within our company for many years. Today we are feeling
the benefit of many years of strategic planning and brave environmental
investment."