How Are Sirius XM Changes Shaking Out?
December 2, 2008 at 5:18 AM (PT)
Since the merger of the two satellite radio companies, writes TODAY's BOSTON HERALD, subscribers have been offered new hardware options, expanded programming choices and numerous pricing options. All of which is causing more than a little confusion. SIRIUS and XM are now one company, but not the same. Listeners can get programming from both services at no extra charge -- except for when they have to pay for it.
And you might need a new radio to take advantage of different pricing structures. Or maybe not.
In OCTOBER, the company announced a "best of" programming option and a la carte pricing. SIRIUS subscribers can pay an extra $4.04 a month, on top of the $12.95 base, for a "Best of XM" package, including OPRAH AND FRIENDS, NBA and NHL games, the PGA TOUR NETWORK, THE OPIE AND ANTHONY SHOW and XM PUBLIC RADIO; XM subscribers can pay the same for a "Best of SIRIUS" package that includes NFL broadcasts, two HOWARD STERN channels, NASCAR, PLAYBOY RADIO and MARTHA STEWART LIVING RADIO.
Or you can save money with new a la carte pricing, which starts at $6.99 a month and allows subscribers to choose 50 channels -- but not every SIRIUS channel and not HOWARD STERN. And beware: The radio needed for the a la carte subscription, a $130 STARMATE 5, is no bargain.
SIRIUS XM CEO MEL KARMAZIN says both XM and SIRIUS will stay separate services for the next 15 years. But that doesn’t mean subscribers can’t get it all. The company has announced it will release a new radio in early 2009 that gets every channel offered by both services. How much will it cost? No word yet.
KARMAZIN remains upbeat about satellite radio’s future. SIRIUS XM claims it will have 19.1 million subscribers by the end of this year, and expects to add 1.5 million more by the end of 2009.
"I know it is difficult in the economic environment that we’re in, and where our stock price is trading, to be very pleased and proud of our operating performance, but we must," KARMAZIN said during a third quarter conference call with WALL STREET analysts. "We believe showing double-digit growth to be very impressive, especially if you compare SIRIUS XM results to other media and entertainment companies."