Chrysler announced today that it will be the first automaker to offer in-car mobile TV with a full channel lineup. The new service, FLO TV Auto Entertainment, will bring up to 20 channels for a monthly fee that's low in comparison to existing satellite services.
For a couple of years now, Chrysler has offered the Sirius Backseat TV option—available as part of the Uconnect Studios package on a number of Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles.
But as we reported last month, when we tested the Backseat TV system in the Chrysler 300C SR8, even though it's very well integrated with the vehicles' entertainment and nav systems, it's not quite what you might think. The system's offerings—for $6.99 a month on top of satellite radio service—are slim and child-oriented, with just three channels of programming, all geared for the little ones. Technically it's just two and a half channels: Disney, Nickelodeon, and then a 'Cartoon Network Mobile' feed of shorts.
Now, Chrysler has struck a deal to bring a range of programming—not just kidstuff—into its vehicles with the Mopar mobile TV option. Available beginning in December, the system will include "something for everyone," with up to 20 channels, according to a Chrysler release, including CBS Mobile, NBC 2Go, CNBC, Comedy Central, FOX News, MSNBC, MTV, and Nickelodeon.
Chrysler Mopar FLO TV Auto EntertainmentEnlarge Photo
The system isn't a factory option like Sirius Backseat TV; instead it's a dealer-installed package that can be added to 2008-2010 vehicles with the factory-option DVD entertainment systems. Models it's offered on include the 2010 Chrysler Town & Country, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Commander, Dodge Grand Caravan, Dodge Nitro, Ram 1500, and Ram 2500 / 3500.
Mopar also offers dealer-installed headrest or seat-top DVD systems, to which the TV service can be added.
The cost for the system will be just $629 plus installation, and it includes a one-year subscription. After that the cost of a subscription would likely start at around $9 per month.
The big catch in all of this: The FLO TV service relies on as-yet spotty high-speed data coverage, as opposed to satellite coverage, so don't expect much coverage on a road trip, though. It's mainly offered in select metro areas at this time. On the other hand, TheCarConnection.com has found Sirius' services to be good just about anywhere there isn't a lot of tree cover, steep terrain, or tall buildings.
FLO TV is essentially the same service being offered on various mobile devices as AT&T Mobile TV and Verizon V Cast TV. Both services use the Qualcomm-owned high-speed digital media network that has recently been expanding rapidly into the frequencies previously used by TV.
The new option will be shown for the first time at next week's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas.