XM Pricing Alternatives

By  |  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:

XM Pricing Survey

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.



5 Comments For This Post

  1. Barb McMillen Says:

    We use it in 2 cars. The price is very expensive for the amount of time in actual use. BUT, if I could access it via Iphone or computer – it would soften the arrangement. Right now, despite the details of their costing analysis – it has become out of line for us. We’re soon to be ex’s as well. Too bad, though. We enjoy it.

  2. Jeff Says:

    I have been a Sirius subscriber since Howard started – 3 radios (1 in each car, 1 in house). I was a die hard fan of Sirius Disorder, Sirius Blues channel and Howard. When the merger happened I saw every channel I liked except Howard change… for example Disorder became Loft but it is not the same.

    I am also an early iPhone adopter and downloaded the Sirius app the moment it came out… and deleted after finding the user interface messy and that Howard was not on there. I also found out that as a grandfathered customer for online access the iPhone app actually required me to pay for the premium option before I renew.

    Basically if Howard goes away after this contract I will likely follow. I am evaluating reducing # of radios as it is. They built a boatload of loyalty in me and then slowly chipped away at it thru wholesale changes and constantly upping costs. The iPhone app was the last straw for me… badly executed and conceived on every level.

  3. Audrey Craipain Says:

    Interesting. Well, just to add to your question re its “worth”, I do wonder in the grand scheme of things, because personally as a PR professional, my main pain point with satellite radio is that to this day, there aren’t tools or tech that can measure the exact reach any of their shows have. Subscriber #s are not enough, I know you have x# M subscribers but I need to know and so does my client, how many people actually heard that Oprah & Friends segment, etc – why can’t we get access to this info? So, in addition to the price point, makes me also wonder what a mention on satellite radio is really worth …

  4. jltnol Says:

    I think the subscription model of business is in for a bad patch. As the economy continues to take it’s toll on people, and they begin to cut back on any/all of their “subscriptions”, they begin to see how easy(and in some ways better) life can be without them.

    With any luck, there will be a new model.. one based on actual consumption. I’d gladly pay for cable TV and sat radio, but only if they can figure out a way to bill me for the hours I watch or listen to their programming…. and no more “premium” content.. all channels for one, low, price. Period.

  5. DaveZatz Says:

    I canceled XM in November. They didn’t offer me anything to stay on other than a couple free months. I rejoined in March after taking a new job (with a 90 minute commute home) and finding a deal/code on Fat Wallet for $77 for a year of service. That’s about what it’s worth to me. If the programming and traffic were better and they included online streaming, I’d pay more. If they really do raise rates this summer due to the licensing/royalties increases that they said they’re passing on to consumers I’ll probably bail after my year is up. Slacker and Pandora are good enough in the car.

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