Will You Have to Tip Your HDTV?

According to some sources, circulation at 24 of the nation’s top 25 newspapers is down significantly. In this age of the instant Internet, delivering news when you want and on the topics you want to know about, and with Craig’s List offering free classified ads in every state, it’s not surprising that newpaper subscriptions are down. But the Internet itself may hold the seeds to the survival of newspapers. According to the Diffusion Group, 76% of those surveyed would like to have their TV connected to the Internet. And now, Sharp has demonstrated a system that will let Japanese viewers get their morning paper on the big screen.

According to an article in Tech-On, Sharp showed a service that lets subscribers get the Mainichi Shimbun (a Japanese newspaper) on Internet-capable models of Sharp Aquous LCD HDTVs. You only get the first five pages of the paper, and the ads in the electronic version are different than the ones in print, but the pages have the same layout and you can zoom in to enlarge the text.

The newspaper service is starting as an experiment, and will be available for free for the next six months. Sharp will show the system at the upcoming CEATEC show, October 6 through 10 in Japan.

This is an interesting project, as it could lead to a new revenue stream for existing newspapers. It presents the information in the familiar newspaper format, rather than the typical jumbled Web page presentation. And by showing it directly on an Internet-connected HDTV without the need for a separate computer, it makes it easily accessible for more readers. I expect that newspaper publishers across the U.S. will watch Sharp’s experiment in Japan closely, and if it shows signs of succes, we’ll probably see signs of it here before long.