How Sirius Backseat TV Works

Ryan McVay/Getty Images

Parents have developed lots of ways to get their young offspring to behave on long road trips over the years.

­­There's the electronic isolation approach: Give each kid a handheld game system and allow them to destroy simulated villains rather than their siblings. Closely related is the in-car DVD approach, which only works if the front-seaters can handle the aural assault of multiple kiddie shows. Of course, there's always the peace by intimidation method: "Don't make me have to stop this car and come back there!"

Satellite programming company Sirius XM Radio, Inc. says it has another way to promote backseat bliss for the younger crowd. Its Sirius Backseat TV pipes kid-friendly television channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and The Disney Channel into the rear seat video monitors of properly equipped vehicles.

­What's more, grown-ups in the front can separately listen to more adult fare while the kids watch and listen to their own programming. It's possible because Sirius fits the television channels within the digital bandwidth that carries the rest of its programming. Consider it one more way in which consumer electronics companies are making entertainment increasingly mobile.

­This article examines the ins and outs of Sirius Backseat TV -- what it is, how it works and how it blurs the distinction between home and mobile video. In order to get programmed television shows in your vehicle, you once needed a bulky satellite receiver on your car's roof, or you could try to receive over-the-air signals with a portable television. To see how Sirius Backseat TV solved the problem, go to the next page.