AT&T CruiseCast soft launches - Orbitcast

AT&T CruiseCast soft launches

| 9 Comments
AT&T CruiseCast
AT&T's entrance into the satellite radio/video market (dubbed AT&T CruiseCast) has soft-launched at select retail outlets, representing a delay from the company's original plans for a full launch in March, according to a report from TWICE.

Still despite the delay, the company is targeting a hard-launch date in early June, although no actual date has been set, said company president Winston Guillory.
The service will provide 22 channels of live TV service and 20 channels of radio service direct to equipped vehicles via its satellite service. Orbitcast had a live demonstation of AT&T CruiseCast earlier this year - see the writeup and photos here.

AT&T is currently working with "small groups" of car audio specialists, expediters and distributors to sign up a few dozen customers to test its distribution, merchandising and promotional network, said Guillory.

Approximately 373 outlets have signed up to carry the product, according to TWICE, although many are not participating in the soft launch. Some retailers are taking an aggressive stance on the new offering, while others appear more cautious.

"We think it's a great technology - we wanted to take a position," said Al & Ed's Autosound product manager John Haynes. The retailer reportedly ordered 50 units about two weeks ago.

Crutchfield is taking preorders on its Web site, while others such as Car Toys and Abt Electronics are looking into selling the product. Gary Yacoubian, president and COO of MyerEmco, said AT&T CruiseCast "will create a ton of buzz," and the chain will be investigating it over the next few weeks.

Still, considering the current economic climate, the AT&T CruiseCast service is likely priced too high out of the range for most consumers.

The AT&T CruiseCast device itself will retail at a suggested price of $1,299 and will come with a subscription price of $28 a month. Professional installation is required, and no free trials are planned at launch.

"I am still collecting data, but preliminary feedback is that both the price of this unit along with the monthly cost of the limited programming will limit the number of potential customers that will be willing or able to justify this product in these very difficult financial times," Audio Express purchasing director Grant Phillips to TWICE.

Currently, the announced content partners for the service are MTV and NBC networks which includes programming such as MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, The N and Noggin. The 20 audio channels are provided by MusicChoice, Orbitcast has learned.

This is hardly competition to Sirius XM Radio (yet).

The AT&T CruiseCast service is less of a threat to "traditional" satellite radio right now - rather it's more of an alternative to the KVH DirecTV system, which is billed at nearly $3,000 and features a much larger antenna.

Still, more competition is looming on the horizon.

Audiovox is planning on offering its FLO TV service provided by MediaFLO, at a target price of $599 - $699 (installed) through car dealers in late September or early October (read Orbitcast's coverage of the press event here). And don't forget ICO mim, the in-vehicle satellite service which could reach the market next year by suppliers including Kenwood.

But it's still too early to say whether in-vehicle live TV entertainment will ever grow out of a niche market.

Right now Sirius Backseat TV is arguably the most reasonably priced live in-vehicle video service at $6.99/month, though it's a limited 3 channel offering. Backseat TV is also the first to market with live video installed at the OEM level, giving a slight leg up on the competition - but being first to market doesn't always mean being the market leader. It's still an extremely nascent market, and the jury's out on the long-term success.

So here's a question - if the price of in-vehicle video went down, would you consider it? Or is watching live TV in your car something you think you would never need? Sound off in the comments below.

[TWICE]

9 Comments

No doubt this will put a fire under Malone and Mel's butt!

Get it together Mel and Malone!!!!

DirecTV and SiriusXM - The P-E-R-F-E-C-T combo!

Live tv in the car is somewhat pointless, for the driver at least, I have heard the argument that it would be great at a tailgate party, agree, great for the kids, siri backseat offers only what you need to occupy a childs mind for the trip. I think AT&T would be better of marketing to truckers and rv owners. The antenna for this product is huge and ryan pointed out that it must be professionally installed. I personally am not interested in this product or live tv in any of my vehicles. Regardless of the price.

Put a full offering of channels in our backseat and I will get my wife to drive.

You MUST not have an SUV or a Minivan.
You MUST not have kids or a Family.
You MUST not be into sports, news, tv, or movies.
You MUST not drive as much as us.
You MUST have enough cash to fly everywhere (hey wait, Airlines have SiriusXM and TV??)

You need to get real - the first company that puts a full channel lineup in the car WINS!

Putting a full offering of channels would be AWESOME, and if anyone tells you different they have no idea what they are talking about.

Hey, Mel and Malone! Step up the pace you old farts!

I think RV and Truckers will be the only market for this.

Way too expensive!

Sirius only gets 50% of OEM's to sign up at 13.00 a month, 28.00 a month don't hold your breath.

With the possible exception of short cartoons, TV shows or movies broadcast to vehicle unfortunately are seldom timed to start and finish to coincide with the typical trip. Downloads might work, then you can determine when to push the play and pause button. Seems like a waste of bandwidth for Sirius and anyone else trying to make a market for this. Of course for those that must have everything there is always a market.

Do you guys spend that much time in your car you'd need every channel? Christ this is so dumb.

I find it funny and disturbing that short trips and running errands people park there kids in front of the car tv. My kids do not even watch it on long trips with the exception of 1 trip that was 12 hours long. Other than that do what I did. Read street signs and look the beautiful scenery.

I HAVE SIRIUS BACK SEAT TV AND MY CHILDREN LIKE IT BUT IF AT&T COME DOWN AT LEAST HALF THE PRICE AND HALF OF MONTHLY PRICE I PROBLE WOULD ACCEPT BECAUSE I LIKE MORE CHANNELS

I think AT&T would be better of marketing to truckers and rv owners. The antenna for this product is huge and ryan pointed out that it must be professionally installed. I personally am not interested in this product or live tv in any of my vehicles.