Chrysler's Mopar division unveiled a new channel, literally, at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) convention in Las Vegas this week. The Auburn Hills, Mich. automaker is preparing to offer mobile TV in Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge cars and trucks.
This is not to be confused with Backseat TV, a factory-installed option that streams video content from Disney, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon via Sirius Satellite Radio.
"We still offer that in vehicles equipped with DVD entertainment systems," a Chrysler spokesperson tells Marketing Daily, noting that Sirius Backseat TV, introduced in 2007, is satellite-based, "so it covers urban and rural areas alike."
By contrast, the new mobile TV product, which Chrysler will start offering in December, is a dealer-installed option that has a capacity for as many as 20 sports, news, childrens, prime-time, reality and daytime channels via San Diego-based FLO TV, a division of Qualcomm. Chrysler says the service -- offering content from CBS Mobile, CNBC, Comedy Central, Fox News, MSNBC, MTV, NBC 2Go and Nickelodeon -- will be principally urban and in 100 major markets "and many interstate driving corridors."
The spokesperson says Chrysler's market research suggests there is broad interest in the product, "but particularly for families who will use this during trips around town of 30 minutes or less, when they normally wouldn't bother with a DVD," she says. "We expect minivan, truck and crossover vehicle buyers to be most interested."
The suggested retail price is $629, plus installation, which comes with a one-year prepaid FLO TV service subscription.
Art Spinella, president of CNW Market Research in Bandon, Ore., says the TV won't get people into showrooms to buy vehicles -- "which is what Chrysler needs." But it is a feature that can make a difference once they are in Chrysler dealerships. "It won't drive floor traffic, but it might increase sales numbers among those already shopping at Chrysler," he says.
He says that despite a wave of such in-vehicle programs, GM's OnStar system got people to shop GM once the division settled on a safety message, and more recently, Ford's Sync system has done likewise with younger buyers.
"But that's in recent history," he says. "The only thing that comes to mind in past history is when Nissan -- when it was Datsun -- had a talking car in the early '80s that told you things like when the door was open. It was just a record player under the dash, but it really drew people into the showroom like crazy."