Auto Service World
News   May 14, 2003   by Auto Service World

And now, the 500-channel car . . .

While the launch of satellite radio for automobiles is impressive, a new satellite television service promises to bring mega-channel programming to your car.
The company, KVH Industries, has created TracVision A5, an ultra-low profile antenna that will bring live satellite television to in-vehicle video screens across the U.S. This new phased-array antenna is being introduced just as mobile video systems have become the hottest selling automotive electronic accessory on the market.
For the first time, the variety of premium, static- free, digital satellite TV programming will be available in automobiles. KVH believes that just as television became the primary form of entertainment and news delivery in the home, it has the potential to do the same in passenger vehicles.
“People love to watch TV and not just at home. The exploding popularity of rear-seat video entertainment systems confirms that,” explains Jim Dodez, KVH’s vice president of marketing. “Satellite radio, for all its variety, is still just audio entertainment. While roughly 600,000 people have subscribed to the various satellite radio services, published industry data estimates that 1 million in-car video systems were sold in 2002 alone. And that number is expected to be even larger in 2003. Passengers in these vehicles are going to want something to watch. Satellite TV, with more than 300 channels of video, 35 to 50 channels of commercial-free music, and nationwide coverage is the perfect solution. KVH’s ultra-low profile TracVision A5 satellite TV antenna makes it possible.”
Vehicles equipped with TracVision A5 will be able to receive the same premium satellite TV service that is already enjoyed by more than 18 million households throughout the United States. The fully automatic antenna mounts to the roof rack of a passenger car, mini-van, or SUV, tracking the TV satellites and relaying the latest movies, breaking news, sports, business report, or children’s entertainment directly to the passenger video screens.
Designed to be a component within the vehicle’s entertainment system, a single TracVision A5 antenna can support multiple video screens and receivers, allowing each passenger to watch their favorite programming whether it’s from the satellite, an onboard DVD player, Digital Video Recorder (DVR), or console game.
The result of more than two years of research and development, the 5-inch high TracVision A5 uses KVH’s revolutionary new phased-array technology to create an antenna with a rugged, flat design suitable for the family SUV, mini-van, or car at an affordable price. TracVision A5 is being introduced just as the backseat video entertainment market is taking off.
Virtually every 2002 model SUV and mini-van offered rear-seat entertainment systems as options and the uptake has been tremendous, with 96% of Nissan Quests, 31% of Ford Expeditions, and 30% of Ford Windstars shipping with video systems, according to J.D. Power and Associates. According to the Wall Street Journal, eight 2003 vehicle models in the U.S. come with DVD players as standard onboard equipment, and DVD players are available as options in 70 other models (Wall Street Journal, 1/16/2003).
Already, almost 50% of full-size SUV owners report that they plan to buy video systems in their next vehicle. The opportunity to add live satellite TV on these screens using TracVision A5 has taken the industry by storm, creating tremendous interest among consumers, dealers, industry members, and the media. With a U.S. dealer network in place, orders being placed, and the first antenna shipment targeted for the end of June, KVH is ready to change how families and businesspeople stay connected and entertained while travelling.
“We’re seeing a tremendous amount of interest in TracVision A5 and live satellite TV in the car,” Dodez continued. “Families with small children, emergency and law enforcement agencies, and business travellers all recognize that live TV broadcasts can offer a level of versatility, information, and entertainment that radio just can’t match.”
The only question remaining, the same one satellite TV viewers ask in their homes daily, is will there be anything worth watching?

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