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Volume 20 No. 42
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Panasonic, Lighthouse team up

Panasonic Eco Solutions North America has signed a deal with Lighthouse Technologies to be the sole distributor of Lighthouse LED video display technology in the United States and Canada.

The partnership should strengthen business for both overseas firms as they compete for deals to develop scoreboards for arenas and stadiums in North America, officials with Panasonic and Lighthouse say.

Lighthouse and Panasonic worked together on a new scoreboard for Ohio Stadium.
Scoreboard integrators such as TS Sports, a company that has worked directly with Lighthouse in the past, would buy the firm’s technology through Panasonic, said Jim Doyle, president of Panasonic Eco Solutions North America.

There are currently no deals signed with either firm. Panasonic will announce its channel partners at a later date, Doyle said.

The deal expands a relationship between Panasonic and Lighthouse and creates consolidation in a small but fragmented industry. Outside of Daktronics, an American firm producing scoreboards at its factory in South Dakota, a handful of international companies often combine their products and services to develop high-definition video displays for big league teams and college sports venues.

Panasonic’s headquarters is in Japan, where the electronics giant has teamed with Hong Kong-based Lighthouse to build scoreboards at sports facilities during the past five years, said Peter Chan, Lighthouse’s managing director.

Domestically, before the deal was formalized, the two companies teamed up to develop scoreboards for football stadiums at Ohio State and Michigan State, and Scotiabank Place, home of the Ottawa Senators.

Individually, they have produced high-profile projects over the past year at Toyota Center, LP Field, California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley and Circuit of the Americas, the new Formula One racetrack in Austin, Texas.

Last year, Panasonic installed the world’s largest single video screen at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Last month, the Seattle Mariners announced that Panasonic would produce MLB’s largest video display for next season at Safeco Field.

Panasonic and Lighthouse both produce the technology driving LED displays, although in recent years Panasonic has drifted away from the direct manufacturing of those systems, Doyle said.

The goal of the partnership is to use Lighthouse’s capability as an LED manufacturer and “layer in” Panasonic’s technology, marketing support, and the logistical and technical services behind a $100 billion brand, Doyle said.

“Basically, every LED manufacturer has reached out to us,” he said. “We evaluated the market … and based on a number of factors that are global in nature, we selected Lighthouse.”

The alliance should benefit teams and facilities facing investments of $10 million to $15 million by increasing the competition, said Michael Rowe, a scoreboard development consultant with Anthony James Partners and a former sales manager with Lighthouse Technologies.

“It consolidates and concentrates the individual talents of the existing Lighthouse distributors under the expanding Panasonic business model,” Rowe said. “It will motivate improved product development and drive more consistent pricing within the marketplace.”