Tag Archives | XM

Sirius XM Fumbled Channel Merge at the Worst Time

sirius-xm-mergerNo doubt this is not going to gain me any fans at Sirius XM, but this needs to be said. The company did its subscribers a huge disservice on Wednesday by pushing its massive channel reorganization on its nearly 20 million subscribers with little (if any) warning.

This was a massive mistake for Sirius XM, and its nearly mind-blowing that they didn’t think this through any better, especially considering the company’s financial situation.

The changes have almost been universally criticized among the service’s most loyal users, and the cuts have angered a lot of folks. The most vocal critics seem to come from listeners of Sirius Disorder, a freeform/eclectic station, and from listeners of alternative stations Fred, Ethel, and Lucy and electronica station The System on the XM side.

To put it bluntly, these users are pissed. Within hours of the change, fan boards like XMFan.com were flooded with complaints of their stations being pulled with little if any warning. In fact, the first many learned of the changes were when they turned on their radios.

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XM, Sirius Change Lineups As Expected

sirius-xm-mergerWhile much of the talk previous to today centered around changes to XM’s lineup, Sirius XM has made changes to both lineups effective immediately. Essentially, it takes a large majority of the channels on either service and combines them, with a few stations either going off the air or being moved onto either service’s online radio offerings.

On XM, here are the new Channels:

Elvis Radio – XM 18 – Elvis
The Bridge – XM 27 – Soft Classic Rock
BBC Radio One – XM 29 – Popular music
The Coffeehouse – XM 51 – Adult alternative
Faction – XM 52 – Punk, hard rock
Radio Margaritaville – XM 55 – Jimmy Buffett
Jam On – XM 56 – Jam bands
The Grateful Dead Radio – XM 57
E Street Radio – XM 58
Underground Garage – XM 59 – underground Rock and Roll
Shade 45 – XM 66 – Eminem produced station
Hair Nation – XM 41 – “hair” bands
Outlaw Country – XM 12 – alternative country

21 channels are changing names, and 11 will be moving around on the dial. More information on the XM lineup can be found here.

Sirius is also changing, here are its new channels:

40’s on 4 – Sirius 4 – 40’s music
90’s on 9 – Sirius 9 – 90’s music
The Loft – Sirius 29 – Acoustic Rock
Willie’s Place – Sirius 64 – Country
enLighten – Sirius 67 – Southern Gospel
BB King’s Bluesville – Sirius 76 – Jazz
Escape – Sirius 76 – Pop instrumentals
Cinemagic – Sirius 81 – Movie soundtracks

23 channels would change names, and 2 channels would be moved. More information on the Sirius lineup can be found here.

Essentially, where the name is changing, it means that the channel is being combined with the similar channel on the other service. While this is not by any means a combination of the entire lineup — I’m guessing Sirius XM wants to keep both services separate enough that either is attractive to customers, yet similar enough that they are saving money on eliminating duplicate programming.

Update: I’m perusing through the fan boards for both services, and it looks like there is a little bit of consternation regarding the changes. XM fans seem to be a little turned off by the rather frequent station IDs (XM didn’t identify as much — but this could be more of a result of building the brands back up with a cadre of new listeners — but then again, Sirius to many has sounded much more like FM than its sibling), and some of the programming switches are a bit abrupt for some.

My only complaint is how this was put on customers. No warning at all, only rumors. I’m a regular listener of BPM XM 81, and I haven’t heard them mention once about what was going on. That’s just not good business to me.

What’s your thoughts?


Sirius XM Takes a Big Hit, Still is Not Making Money

sirius-xm-mergerDespite the best efforts of the company to fight back against those who question its financial health, people are still talking about the company’s disappointing results post-merger. This is not going to be helped along at all by Sirius XM’s most recent quarter: it posted a staggering $4.88 billion loss.

Revenues did increase 17%, something CEO Mel Karmazin was quick to point out in a conference call with analysts.

“Many other good companies are not growing as a result of the issues in the U.S. economy. So we believe showing double digit growth to be very impressive, especially if you compare SIRIUS XM’s results to other media and entertainment companies,” he said.

Now, to be fair to Sirius XM, $4.8 billion of this was due to what is called a “impairment charge,” which it took to account for worthless goodwill resulting from the drop in its stock price following the merger. However at the same time, its bad news for a company who is still not doing too great.

Add to this debt refinancing woes — it has a large chunk of it coming due in 2009 — and some investors are concerned. $1 billion in debt repayments will have to be made, and the company does not have the money to pay for it.

CEO Mel Karmazin has repeatedly said he is confident that he will be able to find the money to pay off those debt payments. However, with the deteriorating economy, its not clear that consumers will continue to pay for a service that is discretionary at best.

Add to this that the US auto industry is increasingly having problems moving cars, and thats even worse for Sirius. The automakers have become a significant source of new subscriptions for the satellite radio operator, and if those company’s aren’t doing well, Sirius will not either.

This could be the reasoning why Sirius XM continues to revise its subscriber projections downward. Last Thursday, it said it expected to finish 2009 with 20.6 million subscribers, down from 21.5 million it had projected earlier.

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

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.
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Sirius XM Makes Good on A La Carte Promise

The satellite radio operator on Thursday debuted its first “a la carte” capable radio, the Starmate 5 for Sirius, while also giving users the option to get the best of the other service without having to change radios in most cases.

The Best of Sirius package for XM includes Howard Stern, the NFL, NASCAR, additional college sports programming, and Playboy Radio. For Sirius customers, the Best of XM adds Oprah, the NBA, Opie and Anthony, the NHL, PGA, additional college sports programing, and XM’s public radio channel.

For either service, the monthly rate would be bumped up to $16.99, essentially meaning the additional channels would cost a little more than $4 to receive. Those interested can either sign up for the new plans from each service’s website, or call in to have a representative change it for them.

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