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Fatty got it first

The set of the 2007 NRL Footy Show on Channel Nine features Panasonic's 103-inch 1080p plasma panel.

Footy Show first saw Panasonic's 103-inch plasma last July at the CEDIA Expo on the Gold Coast. Since then, other vendors, such as Sharp, have put forward their claims to the biggest big screen fame, but Panasonic's the first to move from prototype to reality.

Panasonic claims to have already sold five of these 1080p whoppers in Australia, but the first and most visible installation is on the set of Channel Nine's NRL Footy Show, which airs on Thursday nights at 9.30pm in New South Wales and Queensland.

The new set for 2007 features the 103-inch Panasonic plasma centre stage where the hosts Paul "Fatty" Vautin, Matthew Johns and Paul "Chief" Harragon and their guests enter. Other Panasonic 42-inch HD plasma panels also feature in the set design, including one embedded in the floor of the centre stage walkway.

The 103-inch 1080p plasma measures 2.4 metres x 1.4 metres and weighs in at 220 kg, so it's probably overkill for the average Aussie lounge room. Of course the AU$105,000-plus-installation price tag might be a bit of a drawback too, but according to Brendan Frawley, Panasonic Australia Group Manager, AV/IT, we'll be watching this plasma in commercial venues such as clubs and pubs, plus we're likely to see it used for digital signage in shopping malls and airports.

Panasonic reps would have been particularly chuffed with their Footy Show sponsorship deal when the show's first contestant in its "Crack the Fat" segment chose to keep the more moderately priced 42-inch Panasonic TV he won "to put in his bathroom" rather than gamble it away on a chance to win a car.