SIRIUS Satellite Radio announced today that it will be providing 2-3 channels of premium video content, designed primarily for children, in the second half of 2006, to be beamed into moving vehicles. They will be working with Microsoft to develop the service.
Although initially pitched as a TV-on-the-move service, they clearly have ambitions beyond this, as hinted at by Amir Majidimehr, Corporate Vice President of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft “We will further work together to enable consumers to experience SIRIUS video whether on the go, or at home — from the initial mobile service in vehicles to the PC and home entertainment devices.”
While it’s possible that content could be streamed down live to the cars, it may be more likely that content will be trickled down to hard disk devices in the car for on-demand playback. This would avoid cries of “Oh Dad” from the back of the car as TV pictures freeze due to drop out problems when driving through areas of low reception, like tunnels. More importantly for a satellite company, bandwidth requirements would be reduced from a full broadcast stream.
This is further backed up by careful reading of Chief Executive Officer, Mel Karmazin’s statement “We will take the DVD experience to the next level, offering the best content easily available to families and consumers.”
If they do go for live TV delivery the video channels will take significantly more bandwidth than their current audio offering. Whether SIRIUS will be closing some of their current radio stations or adding more satellite capacity is unclear.
If the content offering from SIRIUS is just on-demand, they could face some serious competition from in-car media centres that wirelessly “recharge” their content while parked in their garage overnight.
Reuters are reporting that they were originally told of the TV channels by the ex-CEO of Sirius, Joseph Clayton, as far back as February 2004.
Today’s news follows an announcement on Tuesday that Ford have committed to offering Sirius radio as a factory-installed option in up to 1 million vehicles over two years beginning this summer. XM, who also offer a US wide satellite radio service, currently have 3.1m users’ verses the 1.1m SIRIUS currently has.