Hey, XM and Sirius: Are You Two Services or One?

By  |  Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 7:22 pm

xmsiriusOver 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…


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7 Comments For This Post

  1. bud Says:

    I think their biggest confusion will be on the hardware side. Will they forever have to support the hardware of their former competitor? Will automakers wait until they have the merged platform radios to place them in their new cars? Will people driving around with the ‘old’ radio have a dead radio?

    They will probably have to provide some way of IP streaming to mobile devices if they cannot get their sattelite receivers small enough to fit in a cell phone (they are only just now approaching that size.

    Platform wars only allow a third party to steal the business model with another more sure way of providing the same content.

  2. Steve Says:

    They supposedly merged, but I’ll be damned if anybody can tell! The price plans/packages are so confusing and ridiculous that it defies comprehension. What a MESS!!! All they have accomplished thus far is to anger and alienate existing subscribers; the managment is horrendous and they treat the subscribers like second class citizens. What could have been a great service is quickly being destroyed – why I have no idea!

  3. george Says:

    The only one complaining about price and plans is you steve. If its so horrendous for you then cancel and enjoy crappy terrestial radio.

  4. Dave Mackey Says:

    I’m already starting to hear on-air logos for “Sirius XM Radio” with new musical tones, on some of the currently-shared channels.

    I’m supposing that the decades channels will take the best of the air talent from both XM and Sirius. I’d be really thrilled to hear Cousin Brucie on XM 6 alongside Phlash Phelps and the rest of those guys. (And, in an odd irony, Cousin Brucie would be reunited with Wolfman Jack, who were both on staff on WNBC at the same time. But Wolfman’s on tape – shades of “American Grafitti”.)

    Glad to see the Loft is staying, though – when I worked in radio, one of my kindred spirits was Mike Marrone, who is now The Loft’s Program Director.

  5. Kevin Says:

    Steve isn’t the only one – I used to have XM but I canceled. I felt like I should have gotten the Sirius package since it had NFL, so I vaguely intended to get that instead, but never quite got around to it, and now I am back to listening to regular radio and not really minding. If I had a good Pandora solution that would knock the stuffing out of satellite radio, no question.

  6. RB Says:

    What happens to the talk/health/advice channels that XM has in the 155-157-158 area? Will they be available to Sirius subscribers?

    If it’s a merger, then all programing should be available to all subscribers, with duplicate programming boiled down to avoid duplication.

  7. Anon Says:

    I canceled my XM subscribtion. Why. They let the DJ’s start talking on the stations I listened to, and that made them less valuable than simply using my iPod in the car. So now I listen to my iPod, with zero montly charge, and zero talking DJs. XM’s loss.

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