Friday, June 5, 2009

Move over satellite radio...there's something new in the "Old Wheezer!"

Actually a couple of interesting items to report on today. One gets big play in the radio trade publications:

AT&T teams with RaySat Broadcasting to launch CruiseCast, a $28 per month rear-seat entertainment system that gives subscribers 20 satellite radio channels and 22 TV channels. The service launches as car sales are at their lowest point in decades and consumers are looking for ways to cut expenses.

NOTE: that last sentence is the usual radio-industry spin this particular publication puts on all stories. You know, I don't have any idea if this is something consumers are clamoring for or not. If it were audio only, I'd say it's dead out of the gate, but having TV right there in the back seat for the kids gives it some oomph.

The wild card is how long it will be before wi-fi is ubiquitous and you can have almost unlimited in-vehicle audio, video, games, and more right off the Internet, having 22 TV channels ain't such a big deal.

The other media-related item is about the demise of the long-standing radio trade paper, Radio & Records. For years, having a record "number one with a bullet" on the R&R charts was the epitome of success. It did a wonderful job of keeping up with industry news and trends and its gossip and personality-following made it a must-read every Friday.

Two things killed the paper, though. First, like all newspapers, it had to be composed, printed, and mailed. That meant any news was old, old, old by the time you got the ink all over your fingers trying to read it. And its primary advertiser base was record labels. The only industry sicker than automobile manufacturers and broadcast radio is the music biz.

I had many good friends who worked there, including their publisher and CEO for a while, Erica Farber. They all brought a passion for radio to the paper that has been sorely lacking since Nielsen's parent company, VNU, bought them a while back. Still, it was inevitable that they went the way of many other print media.

Change is a bulldozer. Either hop aboard and help steer or get tread marks on your bum.

Don N4KC


Anonymous said...

Wow - AT&T announced this way back in January and a radio trade mag is just getting around to writing about it? This is probably just one of many new technologies that will be competing for space in the car. The "big gorrilla" is IP into the car via WiMax or 3/4G cell networks. Deloiitte predicted in January that this year would be strong for WiFi radio in cars. The only reason that Raysat and ATT would succeed with this is because they are collecting a subscription and the car manufacturers will be incentivized to install these receivers as OEM for a cut of the action.

Anonymous said...

I admit this is the first I've heard of the AT&T deal, but if that is their hope, they only need to look at satellite radio. The "churn" is one reason they are in such deep trouble. People get the radio and a six-month subscription thrown in when they buy a car, then drop it like a rock when they have to start paying for it.

Agreed that wi-fi will--as noted--trump such a service in a heartbeat...when it gets to the point that it is generally available.

Thanks for commenting.