Japanese electronics manufacturers are about to launch content sensitive digital video recorders to coincide with the 2006 soccer World Cup which kicks off June 9 in Germany. They feature new technology that recognizes and captures predetermined tournament highlights such as the scoring of goals.

Conscious that timeline differences mean that many of the key matches will be played when Japanese viewers are asleep, the likes of Mitsubishi, Sony and Hitachi are rushing the technology to market, the first of which - Sony's Sugoroku digital terrestrial broadcast model - hit the shelves this weekend.

The recorders are programmed to memorize certain sequences of events - the movements of players and spectator reactions - all monitored by an inbuilt processor along with sound volumes, waveforms and images.

Playback also includes variable periods before and after the selected scenes. The function works when recording schedules are set for a sports program through a rental tuner from Japanese satellite broadcaster Sky Perfect Communications.

In addition to watching complete matches at their leisure, viewers can skim through match highlights over breakfast - hence ad campaigns urging 'Watch the goals before work.' Pricing ranges from fully featured digital broadcast models at ¥210,000 ($1,894; €1,480; £1,003) down to analog broadcst versions at ¥50,000.

If the technology performs as expected, it could open up new avenues of selective broadcasting - both in sport and other popular events - along with highly targeted advertising opportunities.

Data sourced from Asahi Shimbun Online; additional content by WARC staff