AT&T Might Bundle CruiseCast with U-Verse

Ready for live TV in the car? AT&T CruiseCast has launched, streaming 42 channels of live satellite television and radio to rear-seat systems nationwide. And for AT&T U-Verse customers, taking TV on the go might eventually become an add-on to their subscription.

“That is a very good question,” said Winston Guillory Jr. when asked about a potential bundle. He is the president of RaySat Broadcasting Corp., the operator actually delivering the service. “The single bill [where AT&T would charge for both U-Verse and CruiseCast together] is not there today, but we are very interested in making that happen. We’re talking to various groups within AT&T.”

AT&T is acting as a branding partner for the service, licensing the name in order to heighten the profile of the offering. AT&T will participate in jointly marketing the service with mailers and co-promotions. It also collaborated with RBC for provisioning, engineering and project management for CruiseCast.

In-vehicle video entertainment entering the mainstream is not a if, but a when, said Guillory, noting that Frost & Sullivan estimate about 20 million rear-seat vehicles are deployed today. The research firm expects that number to reach 65 million by 2017.

“There is nowhere to go but up,” he said, despite the recession and troubles in the car industry. “This is something people want.”

CruiseCast service is now available from dealers, automotive audio distributors and aftermarket shops across the continental United States, and Guillory says it differs from similar live TV services from Sirius in three ways: One is cost and antennae requirements, two is content and three is in preventing dropped signals.

The manufacturer’s adjusted price (MAP) of the equipment (antenna and receiver) is $1,299 and the monthly subscription fee is $28. The antenna is about the size of a bike helmet, and is secured to a roof-rack on sedans, SUVs and mini-vans. It has a magnetic mount on all other vehicles.

“Other offerings have an antenna that takes two men to mount, and is appropriate only for large vehicles,” said Guillory. We’re bringing this to sedans.”

Its channel line-up is targeted to the whole family, not just the kids. Programming includes the USA Network, SCI FI, Discovery, Animal Planet, CNN mobile, Adult Swim Mobile, Lifetime Channel, NFL Network, MSNBC, FOX News, AccuWeather, ESPN Mobile, Disney, Disney XD, Discovery Kids, Cartoon Network Mobile and the CBS College Sports Network.

The AT&T CruiseCast service also uses buffering technology that overcomes line-of-sight obstacles such as overpasses, buildings, trees or tunnels to deliver television programming to cars, non-commercial trucks and SUVs.

Guillory said he’s grateful for AT&T’s assistance: “As a small company it would be difficult to match what we’re able to do with their brand licensing and marketing resources.”

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