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'Modern Family' has a surprise guest: Nvidia's Shield gaming handheld (update)

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Nvidia Shield Modern Family low res
Nvidia Shield Modern Family low res

At $349, Nvidia's Shield portable game console has a lot to prove, but one celebrity is already making the leap: Luke from Modern Family. In this week's episode, it looks like the youngster's Nintendo 3DS has been at least temporarily displaced by the Android-based Tegra 4 handheld. But the significance isn't what gadgets a character on a popular TV sitcom might play with, it's that Nvidia managed to get the device onto the show.

Modern Family is no stranger to product placement — executive producer Steven Levitan told Advertising Age that the show constantly turns down offers — but Nvidia certainly is. The Shield is arguably the first consumer product ever built and branded by the chipmaker, and cost a reported $10 million in R&D. With a product placement on Modern Family, it looks like Nvidia's not leaving the success of that product to chance, paying extra to ensure that the handheld finds at least a momentary place in popular culture. Of course, ABC's now producing another show that Nvidia might want to check out: the Shield could have a fitting home on S.H.I.E.L.D. as well.

Update: Nvidia just reached out to tell us that it didn't have to pay to put the Shield in Modern Family at all — the producers saw it at CES and asked them for one! "They ended up approaching us," a Nvidia rep said. "Phil and Luke are big gadget geeks... the folks we met are always looking for cool new things to feature." According to Nvidia, no money changed hands. "They wanted it on the show, and we just needed to get them a unit," our contact said.