By Harry McCracken | Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 7:22 pm
Over at CNET, Matt Rosoff is reporting on the supposed impending channel merge between XM Radio and Sirius, the two satellite radio companies that merged in July.
(In October, the two services began to offer extra-cost best-of packages of each others’ unique programming, such as Sirius’s Howard Stern channel and XM’s Oprah one.)
The channel merge is said to be coming next Wednesday–that seems awfully soon if subscribers haven’t been alerted yet–and involves shuffling around of stations, pruning of essentially similar ones (both systems have channels dedicated to the music of particular decades, and availability of some channels that originated on one system on the other system.
A forum post at Digital Radio Central provides an alleged new XM lineup. Among channels I listen to on XM–if I’m reading the list right, and it’s accurate–the 60’s on 6 oldies station will survive, but Soul Street will be replaced by Sirius’s Soul Town, and High Standards (which was originally a Sinatra-themed channel called Frank’s Place) will get the axe for SIRIUSLY Frank.
In other words, XM will start to feel more like Sirius, and I assume that the opposite is also true–Sirius will pick up some of XM’s channels.
Which raises the question: Why bother to maintain two brands and two increasingly-similar-but-not-identical channel lineups, as the combined company has said it plans to do for…the next fifteen years? I’m not entirely sure, since it seems a lot of work for everyone involved.
(I’m also confused by why Sirius continues to use the slogan “The Best Radio on Radio,” which would tend to suggest that its corporate cousin XM is subpar…but hey, I’m easily confused.)
One other thing about that fifteen-year promise of brand separatism: It may be a sign of irrational exuberance on the merged company’s part that it’s planning that far ahead at all. I’ve been a happy XM subscriber for years. But my iPhone 3G is such a slick source of streaming music–thanks to apps such as Pandora and Tuner–that I keep flirting with canceling my XM subscription and simply pumping the iPhone’s audio through my car stereo. It’s mostly XM’s MLB baseball and news stations such as POTUS which have kept me on board. But I have trouble believing that streaming IP-based radio built right into cars won’t trump satellite a long time before 2023 rolls around.
Of course, the content on XM and Sirius could make the leap from satellite to the wireless Internet in the meantime. For now, though, I just hope that the combined company wraps up its channel merge quickly and then leaves things alone for awhile. Like I said, I’m easily confused…