By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 6:23 pm
Yesterday I canceled my XM satellite service after five years. Today, the company asked me to take a survey for departing subscribers. It was filled with the questions you’d expect–mostly ones on why I chose to cancel. But one question focused on what might have gotten me to stay, and mentioned some specific price points:
Currently, XM costs…well, that’s a complicated question, but the standard package is now $12.95, plus a $2 music royalty fee, plus $2.99 if you want to listen online and/or on an iPhone. Other options start at $9.99, and it’s possible to spend $21 a month if you go for the “XM Everything Plus the Best of Sirius” package and want to listen online.
I don’t think any of the scenarios outlined in the survey involve a permanent price break–they’re likely sign-up deals, not unlike the ones that cable companies offer. Oddly enough, the deal that Sirius XM offers to try to convince folks not to cancel isn’t mentioned: $77 a year.
Truth to tell, I’m not sure if Sirius XM can charge less than it does: Between the cost of the satellites and the cost of music royalties and the money it’s forking over to folks like Howard Stern, Oprah, and Major League Baseball, it’s an inherently spendy business.
Incidentally, the “Mostly Music” and “Sports, News and Talk” options mentioned above are trick questions: XM already offers them and is apparently trying to determine if people know they exist. (I didn’t until recently, and might have sprung for one if it wasn’t for the fact that neither one entitles you to pay $2.99 a month extra for online listening.)
How much is satellite radio worth? Well, it all depends on how much you listen to it. But to repeat myself, what would tempt me right now is a plan aimed at folks who only want to listen on an iPhone. If the rep who took my call yesterday had offered me that for $99 or so a year, I wouldn’t be ex-XM.