Panasonic targets theme park and leisure markets with new company division
In early 2017, Panasonic and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts announced a strategic corporate alliance allowing Panasonic to provide projection services for Disney’s North American parks and cruise ships.
The partnership with Disney reflects the collaborative culture of the new Media Entertainment Business Division (MEBD) of Panasonic Corporation, launched in April to serve sports, leisure and entertainment markets under the leadership of Masaki Arizono.
“This alliance is a perfect example of our new, solutions-driven approach,” says Arizono. “It allows us to be involved in the creative process with Disney from the beginning. Rather than have them come to us after the design phase and bid specific products, we can offer our product expertise at the start of a project. It’s an invaluable technology strategic alliance for both parties.”
MEBD is one of six divisions within Connected Solutions Company – a reorganization of Panasonic’s former AVC Networks Company. Connected Solutions Company is headed by Yasuyuki Higuchi, former CEO and later Chairman of Microsoft Japan. It is based in Osaka, Japan. Its counterpart in the US, Panasonic Media Entertainment Company, is based in Newark with additional offices in Denver, Los Angeles, Orlando and Dallas.
As head of MEBD, Arizono is responsible for developing and selling proprietary technological solutions that incorporate high-performance projectors, large screen LED display systems, broadcast-related equipment, professional audio systems, and energy-saving LED lighting equipment to a wide range of customers in the entertainment business. The service component of these solutions includes system design and integration, installation, maintenance, and service support. MEBD will collaborate closely with consulting and system integration partners.
“The media and entertainment market is continuously growing,” says Arizono. “As more venues began to rely on projection and media-based entertainment, we realized this aligned well with our strong core technologies in media, audio and lighting.”
Arizono sees a wide swath of entertainment and leisure venues integrating video and audio in new ways with particularly strong growth in North America. “Half of our global business for MEBD is in North America, which is why Panasonic Media Entertainment Company is being established here,” he says. MEBD will focus on four key segments: stadiums, theme parks, media and MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions).
Panasonic has traditionally been driven by product manufacturing, and while that remains important, this new division reflects the company leaning into a customer-centric, collaborative business model. “Our strategy, particularly in this division, is to approach problems with our customers and develop solutions tailored to their needs,” says Arizono.
Arizono will work closely with Panasonic Hollywood Lab (PHL), which is part of Panasonic’s R&D operations. PHL was started some 20 years ago to build relationships with film studios in Hollywood and ensure content was readily available for VCR and DVD players. With the recent increase of streaming services, PHL has shifted their focus to a B2B approach, working with theme parks and film studios to develop technology solutions especially for those markets.
In the US, Panasonic Media Entertainment Company launched with 150 employees and expects to triple in size over the next five years. “Our initial team largely consists of staff moving from current groups within Panasonic North America,” explains Arizono. “But we will be looking to hire a wide variety of engineers in the years ahead.” • • •