Live and Local in your Car

For years in-car television has been largely a silent and effective baby-sitter for children in backseats.  Over the course of a lengthy car trip keeping the kids occupied isn't just desirable, it can actually make the drive safer by limiting driver distractions.  At first, in car TV was confined to videotape or DVD playback of pre-recorded material.  Then KVH Industries and the DirecTV satellite service changed all that by offering live TV for in-vehicle use.  Now the model has changed yet again with the announcement that DirecTV can now deliver live local news, weather, traffic, sports and other local entertainment programming to your car.

This means that, as a driver, you can hear (and your passengers can watch) live local news programs and other local programming like sporting events while you drive.  This gives vehicle occupants the option to obtain a wide variety of information and entertainment as their vehicle goes down the road.  For example, imagine your passenger viewing a detailed traffic map containing real-time traffic data.  He might then tell you areas to avoid. Local news, sports and entertainment programs will also be accessible to passengers and, in audio form, to drivers. The offering of local channels to vehicles is part of a strategy by DirecTV to target the more than 20 million U.S. vehicles expected to have in-vehicle passenger video systems by 2011, according to analyst firm Frost & Sullivan. The new service gives local programmers the chance for greater participation in the expanding live mobile media market, including creating and producing shows aimed at viewers on the move.

This isn't pie-in-the-sky futuristic thinking either.  Local broadcast channels are now available to mobile customers on the open road within the continental United States via DirecTV to vehicles that have been equipped with a KVH TracVision A7 mobile satellite TV system. The mobile customers will be able to receive their local broadcast channels within designated market areas where DirecTV already offers them to home viewers. Because of this, local channels availability may vary by market, but you probably won't be left out since DirecTV delivers local programming in 142 markets, representing 94 percent of U.S. television households.
 
To receive local channels in your car, you must become a DirecTV customer and you must purchase a TracVision A7 satellite TV system.  The new system is a refinement of the previous TracVision system that includes an integrated GPS unit and new 12-volt receiver jointly developed by DIRECTV and KVH. The "Total Choice Mobile" with local channels package is available for $44.99 per month and offers more than 185 channels.
 
"With consumers' growing demand to watch news and entertainment services whenever and wherever they want, the in-vehicle market has come to represent the next frontier in live digital multi-channel entertainment," said Daren Benzi, vice president, Sales Development and Strategy, DirecTV.

"More and more U.S. motorists now consider their vehicle as an extension of their living room, and, like at home, are demanding live entertainment and information over DVDs and prerecorded content," said Ian Palmer, KVH's executive vice president for satellite sales. "That trend, combined with the phenomenal growth of in-vehicle entertainment systems -- more than 52 percent of full-size SUVs and 40 percent of luxury SUVs and minivans among 2005 and early-release 2006 models have in-vehicle video screens according to J.D. Power & Associates -- suggest that live, in-car satellite TV is the next must-have vehicle technology."