First came satellite radio for the automobile. Now get ready for satellite TV.
KVH Industries Inc. (kvh.com) of Middletown, R.I., is preparing to offer U.S. vehicle owners 300 TV channels - that includes 50 pay-per-view options - and 50 commercial-free audio channels.
"We're planning a nationwide rollout and should be shipping products by the end of June," says KVH spokesman Chris Watson.
KVH is approaching the market differently than XM Satellite Radio (xmradio.com) and Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. (siriusradio.com), its satellite radio competitors.
While each of those companies relies heavily on partnerships with the automakers, KVH will concentrate on the aftermarket. It will sell the service through stores that specialize in mobile electronics and other channels such as car conversion shops.
The big question is if consumers will be willing to spend money for satellite TV for their vehicles. KVH has not announced pricing.
A J.D. Power and Associates (jdpa.com) study indicates that consumer interest in vehicle entertainment systems ranks much lower than vehicle safety technology. Still, the study indicated that there may be some interest.
"The degree of consumer uptake will obviously depend on initial market price of hardware, cost of installation, cost of monthly subscription, availability of a roof rack and consumers' aesthetic assessment of the 30-inch diameter antenna on the roof of their car," says Mike Marshall. He is manager of research projects for J. D. Power.
KVH's system, called TracVision A5, consists of an antenna and receiver. It connects to virtually any standard on-board video screen, much like a satellite receiver connects to a TV at home. The receiver mounts under a car seat or in the trunk. It is operated by a wireless remote.