Satellite radio more popular among boat owners than vehicle owners

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. – As advanced technologies in marine audio systems become increasingly popular, new boat owners are more likely to subscribe to satellite radio than new vehicle owners, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Marine Audio Report released yesterday.

The report measures owner satisfaction with the audio systems supplied in their new boats in seven segments: fiberglass bass boat; pontoon; coastal fishing (17 feet to 28 feet); ski/wakeboard; small runabout (16 feet to 19 feet); large runabout (20 feet to 29 feet); and express cruisers (24 feet to 33 feet). The report examined six areas to measure overall satisfaction: sound clarity; speaker location; ability to hear the stereo at cruising speed; CD anti-skip mechanism effectiveness; radio reception; and ease control use.

While 28 percent of new boat owners who have an audio system report having satellite radio, only 19 percent of new vehicle owners report having the feature, according to the J.D. Power 2006 Emerging Technologies Study. The percentage of boat owners with satellite radio playing capabilities has increased 33 percent from the 2006 study. Owners with MP3 capabilities have also increased from 3 percent in 2006 to 7 percent in 2007. MP3 players are particularly popular among owners in the ski/wakeboard boat segment.

“In general, ski/wakeboard boats, express cruisers and large runabouts tend to have more technologically advanced sound systems than other boats on the market,” said Todd Markusic, senior director of the Powersports practice at J.D. Power. “Among express cruisers, 65 percent of owners who have a marine audio system reported having satellite radio, and large runabout and ski/wakeboard owners follow closely with 42 percent and 31 percent, respectively.”

Among areas examined to determine overall sound system satisfaction, the sound clarity, speaker location and ability to hear the stereo at cruising speed had the highest impact on boat owner satisfaction. The ability to hear the stereo at cruising speed is particularly important to owners, yet satisfaction is significantly lower than in all other areas examined in the report, indicating that this is an area where owner needs are not being met.

“It is definitely a major challenge for boat manufacturers to design an audio system that is easy to hear while cruising at 30 miles per hour or more in an open-air environment,” Markusic said. “However, using high-quality components and well-placed speakers can definitely enhance the listening experience when the boat is operating.”

The report also found that 90 percent of bass boat owners and 50 percent of coastal fishing owners do not have a marine audio system. Conversely, nearly all large runabout and express cruiser owners report owning a sound system.

The 2007 Marine Audio Report is derived from the J.D. Power 2007 Boat Competitive Information Study, which was released in early February. The 2007 Boat Competitive Information Study is based on responses from 12,140 owners who registered a new boat between June 2005 and May 2006.

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