Kids, the 'toons are coming. I just told you to be patient back there. It's been nearly three years since Sirius (Nasdaq: SIRI ) first teased us with the promise of backseat video, but now it's a reality.
The satellite-radio service provider announced that its SCV1 radio tuner will hit stores in the fourth quarter, providing the growing fleet of cars with backseat video monitors the option to offer three different channels of kid-geared programming, while the driver and passenger up front tune in to the more than 130 different channels of Sirius audio content.
Mobile satellite TV's been a slow tease, but at least Sirius is doing as much as possible to make it work. It introduced a prototype of the SiriusConnect tuner earlier this year during the annual CES industry event. A Ford SUV on display streamed the Cartoon Network through its rear-seat monitor.
"Cartoon Network and Boomerang are respectable, but the service won't be an easy sell if it doesn't tack on either Disney's (NYSE: DIS ) Disney Channel or Viacom's (NYSE: VIA ) Nickelodeon," I wrote at the time.
Sirius has done the right thing, announcing that the service will offer Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network as the three available channels. The SCV1 will be available as an aftermarket add-on at retailers for roughly $300.
No, it's not cheap, but it's a drop in the bucket for families who spend as much as $2,000 for high-end dual headrest monitors. Sirius didn't issue pricing information, though industry blogger Orbitcast had mentioned a $6.99 monthly fee for the service during the CES show.
It may not be an immediate top-seller, but it won't be long before parents realize that recycling the same old SpongeBob DVDs can be a real chore, compared to just handing children the Sirius remote to let them surf through three channels for fresh content on the road.
The compressed quality of the video streams remains the big taste-test question, though limiting itself to cartoon content for less discerning children may make that a meaningless point. Kids will watch just about anything these days. Sirius has the major kid-friendly brands in its corner, and that's going to make Sirius an exciting company to watch at the retail level again.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a Sirius and XM subscriber. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does own shares in Disney. The Fool's disclosure policy has square eyeballs.