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Internet Killed the Satellite Radio Star 368

Posted by kdawson
from the finding-an-economically-sensible-use-for-space dept.
theodp writes "As Sirius XM faces bankruptcy, Slate's Farhad Manjoo reports that the company has bigger problems than just the end of cheap credit. While it has what seems like a pretty great service — the world's best radio programming for just a small monthly fee — Sirius XM has been eclipsed by something far cheaper and more convenient: the Internet. Load up Pandora or the Public Radio Tuner on your iPhone, and you've got access to a wider stream of music than you'll ever get through satellite. So forget the satellites, the special radios, and the huge customer acquisition costs, advises Manjoo, and instead focus on getting Howard Stern, Oprah, the NFL, and MLB on every Internet-connected device on the market at very low prices."
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Internet Killed the Satellite Radio Star

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  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zoomshorts (137587)

    Yawn, who would have guessed?

    • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 15, 2009 @02:20PM (#26864525)

      Yawn, who would have guessed?

      Someone who fails to realize that there is no effective internet penetration into what is satellite radio's major market: automobile listening.

      How many cars have internet service?

      So tell us, how could internet competition kill satellite radio?

  • Good Riddance (Score:5, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:22AM (#26862673) Homepage Journal

    It was centralized anyway. However, what we need is a mesh network, because otherwise we will lose net neutrality and then you'll be back to having to listen to clearchannel because no other kind of internet radio will work on your mobile internet connection any more. WE MUST DECENTRALIZE.

    • Good Physics. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "However, what we need is a mesh network, because otherwise we will lose net neutrality and then you'll be back to having to listen to clearchannel because no other kind of internet radio will work on your mobile internet connection any more."

      Congratulations. You said the magic phrase, mesh networks. Now here's another magic word, latency. And another, monopoly. See the problem now? Remember it's not really "your" mobile network.

  • by Vermifax (3687) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:25AM (#26862685)

    I can run flycast.fm on my office pc instead of my xm radio and they have also released a blackberry and iphone client.

    The blackberry client works well so long as I'm not moving. If I am signal fluctuates and the music drops out.

    • by plague3106 (71849) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:36AM (#26862729)

      Well, doesn't sound like a great solution then if you can't really use it while you're driving.

      Also, I can't run flycast or anything like that on my office pc.. those things are not allowed. I can aim a sat. antenna out the window though. Of course my main reason to keep sat. is not really the music; it's the other programming.

      Sirius music channels always sucked.. and now XMers are suffering through that. I don't listen to the music as much... even in the few cases where I like the play list better. The problem is the Sirius DJs, that don't understand their stupid babble was the second most annoying thing about FM radio. The XM DJs were less chatty, and a few were actually good. But now Liquid Metal has an annoying bitch DJ that can't shut her mouth.. and she knows nothing about metal... because she's also on two other channels at other times of the day. Sad really.

      • by dlZ (798734) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:48AM (#26863131) Journal
        I got rid of my Sirius a few months ago due to the channel changes from the XM merger, actually. I loved the Sirius metal station. When they merged, they started playing more music from the XM metal station, and it just wasn't as good. The Sirius station played a lot more black and death metal, and a lot less mainstream. There was also an excellent punk station, and (even before the merger) they turned it into some 24/7 AC/DC station. It never came back. I did enjoy Howard Stern, but losing the two music stations I listened to the most was enough to cancel. I'm back to listening to CDs in the car again.
  • too BIG to die (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Bankrupcy? Yawn. If the company collapses and goes out of business it will mean a short outage. There is just too much hardware out there for it to die... SOMEONE will pick up the pieces at fire sale prices and yeah, quality will probably go down, but satellite radio is installed in too many cars to completely die out. Howard Stern will go away, but hundreds of channels of ad-free music will survive. (although I've noticed the DJs still talk over the beginning of the songs...just like real "free" AM/FM

    • I think the DJs on satellite are the single most annoying thing about the service. I use it mainly for the info channels like CNBC, CNN, and sports, but I do occasionally tune into music. If I wanted people yapping inanely over songs, I'd listen to land based music. That's an easy head count reduction that would actually improve the service.
  • Bollocks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drsquare (530038) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:29AM (#26862695)

    What percentage of radio listeners even have an iPhone, or any portable device capable of radio reception at non-extortionate rates? Too small to even matter.

    Satellite radio has its own problems but the iPhone isn't one of them.

    • Re:Bollocks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:45AM (#26862777)

      I think what is happening is just as iPod became the unofficial name of a MP3 Payer, Kleanex became the unofficial name of tissues. Coke down south has became the unofficial name for Carbonated Soft Drinks. the iPhone is getting its reputation as a smart phone or an internet aware phone. Which is a growing market. I think the point still hold true. How many people with satellite radio or how many people with iPhones, from my experience I have seen more iPhones (even more smart phones which can do the same job) then satellite radios. A smart phone you can carry anywhere with you Satellite radio don't have much of a market as a portable unit. And normally just hooked into cars. So the iPhone (as the term of a powerful cellphone) could unseat Satellite radio

    • Re:Bollocks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by geoskd (321194) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:47AM (#26862787)

      Satellite radio has its own problems but the iPhone isn't one of them.

      I don't think you fully understand the importance of the iPhone. The point isn't that everyone owns an iPhone, and they will simply start using it to get internet radio, the point is that the next generation of "normal people" phones (the generic ones that people with little money get) will be of the iPhone caliber, because no one wants the crappy half jobs anymore. More importantly, these devices are rapidly going to become the main connection method to the internet for most entertainment needs. Who wants to have to lug around a specialized piece of hardware for every single application. What people really want (and apple discovered they will pay a very high price for) are single devices that do it all. If I have to carry a cell phone anyway, it is damn convenient when it is also a music device that I can integrate into whatever stereo I happen to be near. Its also pretty nice when it is a PDA I can use to keep notes and reminders, and oh yeah, I really like the fact that it is also a GPS unit, and I can use it to look up information when i am no where near a "computer". The fact is that the future of stand-alone dedicated hardware is going away, and except for a few niches (dedicated game consoles, and PCs to name a few, although I'm not sure about the latter), all of that functionality will be absorbed by your cell phone. Since I got an iPhone, I use my PC about half as much as I used to, and I haven't listened to any kind of broadcast music at all. I get it all through my phone, and that phenomenon is going to get more common, not less.

      -=Geoskd

      • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:02AM (#26862867) Homepage Journal

        the point is that the next generation of "normal people" phones (the generic ones that people with little money get) will be of the iPhone caliber

        Even people who pay something ridiculously low like $90 per year to Virgin Mobile for a phone that they use mostly to arrange a ride home? AT&T quoted me a price eight times that for the kind of smartphone service plan you're describing.

        If I have to carry a cell phone anyway, it is damn convenient when it is also a music device that I can integrate into whatever stereo I happen to be near.

        The family owns four vehicles, and not one of their car stereos has a line-in jack. What workaround has worked for you?

        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:06AM (#26862895) Homepage Journal

          The family owns four vehicles, and not one of their car stereos has a line-in jack. What workaround has worked for you?

          You can get a USB/SD mp3 player that plugs into the lighter socket AND has a line-in which feeds into its FM-transmitter for $15. At least, that's what I paid for mine, shipped, from dealtime I believe.

          Most media-playing phones have a way to get a line-out.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by peragrin (659227)

          go to a car radio place, and ask options. Most car radios use proprietary plugs but do have an audio input jack. Crutchfield.com has a list. select your car, model and options and what you want from it. Also sticking with as close to generic audio input is best(not everyone has an ipod)

          Well your not the market. If you want the data plan that is sold separately. Just like your ISP is separate from your phone, and cable, and electricity, and water. I do find it odd that I need two ISP's. it would be g

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tepples (727027)

            go to a car radio place, and ask options.

            So now I'm supposed to buy a new car stereo with a 3.5mm audio input jack for the owners of each of these vehicles. Sticking with FM radio is much cheaper than that.

            If you want the data plan that is sold separately.

            And t-mobile.com just told me the cheapest data-only plan is $39.99 per month plus various taxes and unfunded-mandate-cost-recovery fees. It's cheaper than AT&T, which charges $20 more than that, but still much more expensive than satellite radio.

            Just like your ISP is separate from your phone, and cable

            I don't understand. In my area, the phone company offers DSL and FiOS, and the cable company off

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by certain death (947081)
        I don't know what crowd you hang out with, but when the iPhone becomes the main connection to the Internet for entertainment, it will need to have a screen the same size as my computer, at least 24". I am so fucking sick of hearing how the i(insert inane object here) is going to replace eveyone's (insert something large here) just because it is really neat! I own a T-Mobile G1, my wife owns an iPhone and I nor my wife use them as out main entertainment connection to anything. We use them for getting emai
      • Next generation? My phone was released in 2005 and was a cheap consumer model (N70) and is capable of receiving Internet Radio streams. The only thing preventing me from doing so is the cost of data. An Internet radio stream uses around 50MB/hour, which would quickly burn through the bandwidth allowance on my cheap pre-pay plan.

        The hardware wasn't the limiting factor, the network was. With plans offering 3-10GB/month now becoming affordable, it looks more interesting. 10GBs works out to around six h

    • Re:Bollocks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spottedkangaroo (451692) * on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:49AM (#26862801) Homepage

      > Satellite radio has its own problems but the iPhone isn't one of them.

      Yet. But I'm reading about wireless that can function in the 100Mb range, broadcasting to a car moving 100mph. It's safe to say that in 10 years it'll be unthinkable to try a car trip without your 100Mb internets to keep the kids busy.

      • Re:Bollocks (Score:4, Funny)

        by tickbox (945624) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:17AM (#26862961)
        Does the car fly and then fold up into a briefcase after you're done driving?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by edmicman (830206)

        Somehow they managed to do it without things like built-in DVD players and crap like that. We haven't started having kids yet, but when we do I'm tempted to NOT have all of those things. My parents had road trips when they were kids without all of this tech, and we did without as kids, too. Why should my kids get to not enjoy the boredom and conversation?

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      perhaps the problem is: and instead focus on getting Howard Stern, Oprah, the NFL, and MLB

      How many people listen to the BBC World Service [bbc.co.uk] on little FM or AM radios already? How many of them want to hear Howard Stern?

      The problem is almost certainly the content, and a little down to the cost.

      • Re:Bollocks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@NosPaM.cornell.edu> on Sunday February 15, 2009 @11:58AM (#26863557) Homepage

        Actually it's both - Sirius XM cited rising talent costs as the prime reason for their bankruptcy.

        I'm not sure how bankruptcy law and contract law interoperate, but they could save a LOT of money by ditching Stern. I have nothing against Stern, but if you look at how much his contract was for, you wonder, "how the hell is that investment going to pay for itself?". Yeah Stern will bring in some subscribers, but $500m in profit worth? Not likely.

        Looks like fortunately for Sirius XM, their 5-year contract with Stern is up soon.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SkyDude (919251)

      What percentage of radio listeners even have an iPhone, or any portable device capable of radio reception at non-extortionate rates? Too small to even matter.

      Satellite radio has its own problems but the iPhone isn't one of them.

      Let me add - am I the only one who thinks that listening to music on a smartphone is ludicrous? I have a nice multi-speaker setup in my vehicle, and the sound quality is excellent. I've seen and heard the iPhone and it doesn't even come remotely close to the sound quality of even a cheap in-car system. Wear the earbuds you say? Can't do that when you're driving in many states.

      I've waited for digital music reproduction all my life (I'm over 50) and it's here. The last thing I'd want to listen to it on is th

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        You know most phones have headphone sockets that can be connected to the line on on your nice multi-speaker setup, right? The phone is the access device, not the playback device. You don't even need cables if your car and phone support the stereophonic bluetooth audio profile, just get in the car and have the sound automatically move from your headphones to the car speakers.
    • Re:Bollocks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@NosPaM.cornell.edu> on Sunday February 15, 2009 @11:53AM (#26863511) Homepage

      Also, even if cell phone data plans were free, the fact is that cellular coverage in the US just isn't good enough for reliable audio streaming at decent qualities.

      I've done the "stream to a phone" thing in my car once or twice, and it just wasn't worth the hassle. There are places on the highway where the stream drops every time I pass them, requiring manual intervention to restart with most players. Also, operating in an EDGE area requires a low-quality low-bitrate stream.

      I have a mobile device capable of streaming, but when in the car, it is the XM receiver I always listen to.

  • by abner23 (724467) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:35AM (#26862721)
    Only place I use satellite radio...
    • by reboot246 (623534) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:10AM (#26862923) Homepage
      That's the only place I listen, too. I work out of my vehicle and my job covers several states. Sometimes there are no radio stations worth listening to in the small towns where I work. I like XM for the talk and news, not so much for the music. It's nice to be able to listen to Coast to Coast AM when I'm leaving home at 3 in the morning and driving 2 or 3 hours to work. Talk radio is more entertaining than music sometimes.

      Sure, if I worked in a big city I could use my laptop to listen to streaming radio online, but that's impossible when you're in the middle of nowhere.
      • by tkrotchko (124118) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:46AM (#26863127) Homepage

        I think a lot of people here don't quite understand that once you get out of the city, there is no 3G data plans, there is no radio to speak of, and when you can get some reception, the AM/FM dial only has local sports & information on it. And yes, there are iPods, but when you spend a lot of time in your car, you've listened to your 10G of music for the hundredth time, you'd actually like to be surprised by music you haven't heard of before.

        It's also fair to say that many people here believe that everybody is willing to pay thousands of dollars for a cell phone data plan simply because they do, but that's not my main point here... ;)

        • by geoskd (321194)

          I think a lot of people here don't quite understand that once you get out of the city, there is no 3G data plans, there is no radio to speak of, and when you can get some reception, the AM/FM dial only has local sports & information on it.

          You forgot one important thing that is conspicuously missing away form the cities as well... a market for expensive gadgetry.

          -=Geoskd

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          You can dump streaming radio to disk and sync it with your ipod when you get home, assuming your not away from an internet connection for longer than it takes to play a few gigs of audio...

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by horatio (127595)

          I'm with you here. The internets are pretty limited once you're out on the road. I think Pandora is great, but it doesn't stream live anyways - so no live content (news, talk, etc) there. For all intents and purposes it downloads and mp3 and plays it, downloading the next one while you're listening.

          XM gives me access to a variety of programming without having to pay $7.00/mo to multiple individual websites so I can listen to their shows on the internet - which again isn't available nearly as much outside

        • by TroyM (956558) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @01:15PM (#26864091)

          You're right that 3G coverage and radio selection out in the middle of nowhere sucks. And there is a market for people who're willing to pay for Sirius/XM because of that.

          The problem is this market isn't big enough to pay Sirius/XM's costs. That's why they've never made a profit, and likely never will. And with the credit situation the way it is today, the life expectancy for companies that constantly lose money is not very long.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:36AM (#26862733)

    The most important part of satellite radio is *mobile* access. Automobile. Essentially the same market that AM/FM stations have.

    Let's look at what he's saying one by one:

    1) The bulk of the article compares the iPod with Satellite Radio and says they're competing for the same market. Hmmm. Maybe so, but how many people have iPod docks in their car?

    2) The idea that satellite radio is somehow a big market when streamed over the internet. Then he compares it to the huge number of free, high-quality internet streams and declares that Satellite Radio is too expensive. It doesn't even make any sense.

    3) He chooses to dismiss the payments by satellite radio to car makers. He says if they got rid of that then they could charge less for the internet streams. Seriously man, I think he's retarded.

    Let's be real. The *primary market* for Satellite Radio is automobile access. You turn on the music and as you drive all around the country, you get the same music/talk/news whatever. And what's more, it's a great application, too. Everybody who gets satellite radio, if they enjoy it, never listens to AM/FM again in their car.

    If Satellite Radio was all set to rely on the Internet for it's delivery mechanism, then the whole reason for Satellite Radio disappears. Satellite Radio isn't about content it's about a delivery mechanism for content that doesn't require any infrastructure beyond the satellites themselves. The problem isn't that it competes with an iPod (doubtful) or that it doesn't come over the internet (goofy), its that the infrastructure set up by Sirius/XM is too costly. These guys took a bet on an adoption rate that hasn't happened.

    This article is so dumb that it reminds me of a letter to the editor (true story) about 35 years ago. We were going through an energy crisis and the local paper wrote an editorial that said we need to begin seriously moving to solar. A few days later, a woman wrote in that it seemed like a poor idea because if we used solar power, we'd simply use up the sun quicker and then it would be really dark.

    It demonstrated that the person writing the letter was clueless about what solar power was or how it even worked. Farhad Manjoo makes the same mistake. He has no idea what Satellite radio is, and why people want it. So he

    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:00AM (#26862857) Homepage Journal

      The problem is that those satellites are very expensive. Another is that XM reinforces that signal using repeaters in big cities, so that is some expensive infrastructure as well. Not only that, XM was fined for using higher power repeaters than they were permitted, and not using them in the locations where they had permits to put them.

    • The bulk of the article compares the iPod with Satellite Radio and says they're competing for the same market. Hmmm. Maybe so, but how many people have iPod docks in their car?

      You don't need an I-Pod dock in your car. Any MP3 player and a small FM transmitter with a stereo headphone jack can play your MP3 player over the air into your car's radio. There are also devices to convert stereo headphone out from an MP3 or CD player into a cassette tape that can be played in a car's cassette player. And even then, some cars have a stereo line in, you can plug any device such as an MP3 player into the stereo jack in your car's radio. And even then, a stand alone CD or tape functions just

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        Yes, and the quality is really really bad...
        I would rather burn my songs to CD than use one of those crufty adapters... Tho it may be possible to adapt the cd changed to a line in...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by HereIAmJH (1319621)

        Any MP3 player and a small FM transmitter with a stereo headphone jack can play your MP3 player over the air into your car's radio.

        Several people have mentioned using FM transmitters, and there is a big problem with that when you are traveling. As you change regions quite often you have to change your FM transmitters channel because a frequency that it available in Tulsa might be in use in Denver.

        I used one for a while when I had XM and used it on several road trips. If you go that route, make sure it can

    • Maybe so, but how many people have iPod docks in their car?

      More and more. New cars are coming with USB ports that also support plain old USB memory sticks as well as iPods. Even better, auto manufacturers are putting controls on the steering wheels.

      Satellite does offer some value but instead of a monthly payment, people can get whatever hardware and load it with their own music. And there are starting to be changes in the music industry too - DRM-free music, more competition, etc.

      I could have gott
    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Actually, the primary reason for bankruptcy cited by Sirius XM is not satellite network maintenance costs, but talent costs such as Stern's $500m contract.

    • I think the problem is/was that they should have made making the receiver so inexpensive that it was included with most automobile receivers. They could then have given six months free with every new car.

      Additionally, they should have cooperated in receiver design so that any particular receiver could be set up to have received either XM or Sirius (or both).

      Doing these things would have made it much easier to sign up and/or remove a service when desired.

  • by .Bruce Perens (150539) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:37AM (#26862737) Homepage Journal

    I had satellite radio, but ended up ditching it along with a few other things. We decided that we were being economically bled to death my numerous little services, none of which were too bad individually but collectivity they ate up our budget.

    - Sirius
    - DishNetwork
    - Land-line telephone
    - Internet service
    - MMO fees
    - Cell phone
    - GameTap
    - FilePlanet

    The list goes on. Eventually we were able to eliminate, consolidate, or reduce many of these fees. We safe a lot of money each month now. I now try and avoid anything that has a recurring monthly service, at least not unless it replaces something else. Business should realize that, in these tough economic times, people are going to take a hard look at where there money is going. Month payments don't have an end in sight, there's no payoff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      -1 for masquerading as Bruce Perens.
  • Car (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gatkinso (15975) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:40AM (#26862749)

    Sattellite radio is wonderful in the car. Oh well.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:43AM (#26862763) Homepage Journal

    Not to me. Radio should continue to be free.

    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:57AM (#26862843) Homepage Journal

      Not to me. Radio should continue to be free.

      Radio (at least most of what is delivered over RF in the US) isn't free, you pay for it by being asked to listen to ads, most of the ads are pretty dumb too. Last I listened, it seemed like a third of the time is ads.

      There isn't much by the way of "TiVo" for broadcast radio to at least pare them down a bit. There are a few devices out there, but the reviews I've seen are lackluster.

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        We are talking monetary payment, not 'time payment'.

        I remember the same argument with cable ' since you are paying its commercial free', now its more commercial the content.

        I hear there are commercials on some satellite radio stations now too.

        • I remember the same argument with cable ' since you are paying its commercial free'

          Was that ever really true? Or is it just something that people misremember?

    • Radio is not free. You pay for it with your time and by being brainwashed.

      Put it another way, you are the product and the advertiser is the customer.

  • Even though the internet is a much cheaper way of getting access to these wonderful radio stations, is the internet going to pay the overhead cost of obtaining people such as Howard Stern, Oprah, the NFL, and MLB? I mean, XM pays Howard Stern to have him air his shows on XM, i'm not sure how Oprah, the NFL and MLB do it, i would imagine it have to be basically the same concept. But who knows, i could probably be completely wrong in this case (wouldn't be the first time). Anyone else know?

    • by geoskd (321194)

      is the internet going to pay the overhead cost of obtaining people such as Howard Stern, Oprah, the NFL, and MLB? I mean

      Apperently you haven't seen any of the pay-for-content sites on the internet. I know your experiences as a slashdotter are quite limited, but surely you have come across one of those porn sites you have to give up a credit card number to get into... Same concept applies here. The internet is Free as in freedom, not Free as in beer, and it has always been that way.

      -=Geoskd

      • Apperently you haven't seen any of the pay-for-content sites on the internet. I know your experiences as a slashdotter are quite limited, but surely you have come across one of those porn sites you have to give up a credit card number to get into... Same concept applies here. The internet is Free as in freedom, not Free as in beer, and it has always been that way.

        So basically you're trading one subscription based service for another and just changing the way you listen to it. Also, something tells me that the average internet radio channel would not have the finacial support to pay for the same content that XM offers. Something tells me that you will simply get one internet radio site that will outdo the rest of them, they will lock in a few million subscribers and will offer all the big name shows for a low monthly cost. /. should do a poll attached to this story a

  • by zerofoo (262795) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:52AM (#26862821)

    Yes, I have an iPhone, and yes I run pandora on it. It works great, and I enjoy it at home and in the car.

    But that wasn't why I dropped Sirius.

    I had two radios, and the high-quality internet subscription. After the merger, some of my favorite stations either went away, or the playlists got cut down to 20 songs.

    I called and complained, but I was greeted with "sorry about that, how would you like two months free service?" Why would I want two more months of a service that sucks?

    The last straw was the sound quality problems. Octane 20 sounded like it was underwater. I guess Sirius cut back on the bandwidth reserved for some channels to make room for some of the XM offerings.

    In the end, it was bad music content, and terrible sound quality that killed it for me.

    I do miss Howard, but I hope that he'll go online once Sirius XM goes tits up.

    -ted

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tkrotchko (124118)

      "I do miss Howard, but I hope that he'll go online once Sirius XM goes tits up."

      Howard Stern became non-entertaining right around the time that Sirius made him extremely wealthy. His rants against *the man* were entirely too forced when he actually became *the man*.

      Plus, he stopped putting effort into the show. Fridays off, long vacations, "Best of Howard Stern" but with the really controversial parts taken out (when you're *the man*, you don't risk your money being controversial), I assume he got married

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I listen to Howard and Bubba mostly every day I can (Howard Mon-Thurs, Bubba Mon-Fri)

      Howard stated this past week that if Sirius ever went away, so would he. He has his money... why should he stick around?

      But, to be honest, Sirius is not going anywhere.

      Sirius brings in $2 Billion or so a year in Subscriptions and Radio Sales. The problem is the startup debts were too great to maintain in a problematic economy. They owe $3.9 billion. Which, in all honesty, is actually not bad. Most people I know who own home

    • by rho (6063)

      Don't forget about the junky radios. Sure, some are reasonably reliable, but I know too many people--me included--who have gone through too many of them. You basically have to budget for another radio every few years.

      I like satellite radio, and think it's a good business model. But they need to unfuck their customer service and put the screws to their hardware manufacturers. Basically they need to run their business like a business and not as some kind of magic money machine based on dick and fart jokes b

  • Radio? What's that?? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by markdavis (642305) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @09:57AM (#26862841)

    I never had any interest in satellite radio and not because I am adverse to paying for music.

    1) The radios were too large/comples
    2) The reception indoors was spotty
    3) Having to sign contacts and such was an immediate turnoff. Reminds me of the crap with cell phones.
    4) Having to pay for EACH radio didn't help matters

    And regular radio? Ug.

    1) The advertising is so extremely annoying- as if designed for 3-year-olds
    2) Screaming advertising or major volume jumps
    3) Same ads over and over and over and over and over
    4) Poor sound quality
    5) Idiotic DJ's
    6) Poor music selection. I mean, we must have 30 radio stations, and 3 types of music, none of which I like.

    I stopped listening to all radio eons ago. I just have mp3 everywhere. Granted, even with many hundreds of CD's, it still gets old after years.

    And the true irony? The Neilson Radio Ratings packet just arrived in my mailbox yesterday. This is the third time. I keep telling them I don't listen to *any* radio, and they keep saying "oh, well that is valuable information, please fill out the forms with blanks".

    • by DoninIN (115418) <don.middendorf@gmail.com> on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:25AM (#26863015) Homepage
      N. P. R.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hakey (1227664)
        I am an NPR junky. The problem is that local NPR stations generally don't transmit very far. I recently moved to an area that only gets one station, and its programming is mediocre with news and talk for only part of the day and music all evening and night. So I got an XM radio so that I could listen to NPR. XM provides 24/7 BBC world service, world radio network, and 3 public radio channels. And I can get it reliably at home and on the road no matter where I am in the country. No other broadcast radio or i
  • Citation needed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:07AM (#26862903) Homepage Journal

    Sirius XM has been eclipsed by something far cheaper and more convenient: the Internet.

    Where are you living that adding 15,000 minutes (ca. 8 hours/day) of streaming 64 kbps from the Internet to your monthly mobile phone plan is "far cheaper" than a subscription to satellite radio? Or were you talking about recording at home and then time-shifting to the office or the car, for which satellite radio would still hold a significant lead in convenience?

    • by Alioth (221270)

      Most of the day you're stationary, and can listen to internet radio on a fixed broadband connection. There is no extra cost on ADSL or cable for listening to 8 hours of streaming 64kbit radio.

      Most people are mobile for less than an hour a day.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Most of the day you're stationary

        What occupation?

        and can listen to internet radio on a fixed broadband connection.

        Only if you have an office job. Otherwise, you have to buy songs at roughly 99 cents a pop and put them on a music player.

        Most people are mobile for less than an hour a day.

        I don't understand how you calculated that, even for someone with a desk job. A bus trip takes 40 minutes: an average 10 minute walk to the bus stop + wait for the bus (which often runs late), an average 15 minute ride to the transfer station, and an average 15 minute ride from the transfer station to the destination. This makes an 80 minute round trip to work, not even c

      • by edmicman (830206)

        Until tiered pricing and bandwidth caps come into play?

    • by argent (18001)

      Or were you talking about recording at home and then time-shifting to the office or the car, for which satellite radio would still hold a significant lead in convenience?

      I have one word for you: podcasts.

      Time shifting is more convenient than broadcast now.

    • by dnaumov (453672)

      Where are you living that adding 15,000 minutes (ca. 8 hours/day) of streaming 64 kbps from the Internet to your monthly mobile phone plan is "far cheaper" than a subscription to satellite radio?

      Finland.

      Unlimited mobile data at 384kbit for 9.80eur/month.

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:09AM (#26862915)

    Approximately 25% of Americans own portable standalone MP3 players, 76% of households in the U.S. own a portable electronic device many of which are capable of playing music (such as a PSP, phone, blackberry, etc.), 99% of American households have televisions in them, Americans own more than 1 billion radios with free AM/FM broadcasts to receive, Americans also play tons of video and computer games, Americans go to the movies, and the form of entertainment that Americans prefer most according to most recent studies...reading.

    Sirius-XM has to compete with EVERYTHING, not just other forms of audio broadcasts like internet radio or over the air AM/FM radio. Every activity you do other than listen to Sirius-XM is in direct competition with Sirius-XM, the less you find yourself using the service, the less likely you are to renew the service, and that's if you get it in the first place.

    If you have a short commute to work, is paying for a monthly radio fee worth it? Probably not if you only listen to a few minutes of radio. And if your commute is long, is satellite radio better than free radio? The talk shows have commercials on both, so unless you really want to listen to a Sirius-XM exclusive broadcaster, the answer is no again. But what about music? Sirius-XM has commercial free (for the most part) music, AM-FM does not. But with CDs and I-PODs (through car speakers) you can play your own music and audio books or whatever commercial free and you control the entire play list.

    And once you leave your car, Sirius-XM offers almost nothing that is worth paying a monthly fee for, unless you crave their exclusive talk radio content like Howard Stern. All of the sports game radio broadcasts can be gotten with a superior service (like MLB.TV for professional baseball) or for free over AM-FM. And out of your car you've got the other alternatives, TV, movies, video games, reading, that studies show most Americans prefer over listening to any form of radio whether it's AM-FM or satellite.

    Sirius-XM also spent enormous amounts of money securing exclusive contracts with radio businesses and entities. Howard Stern cost Sirius over $500 million ALONE and they gave him over $100 million in stocks that is now worth next to nothing. Factor in the costs of hiring Oprah, Martha Stewart, Jamie Foxx, the NFL, MLB, NASCAR, etc. and you have another major reason why the business is going under. Even more ironic was that Sirius and XM when they were competing against each other spent so money to OUTBID each other for these exclusives and now that they are MERGED TOGETHER they are stuck with each others' MASSIVE DEBT from taking on these insanely burdening contracts and the entire reason that they spent so much money in the first place is not a factor any longer. Sirius spent $500 million to get Howard Stern instead of XM (who offered significantly less according to Stern) but now Sirius-XM is the same company.

    Another reason that Sirius-XM is in the tank is because car sales are down. Many car dealerships had deals with either Sirius or XM (and now with the new merged company Sirius-XM) to include a satellite radio with a new car with two or three free months subscription. The idea was that people would get used to having the satellite radio in their vehicle and they would continue to subscribe. But auto sales are down and this model of placing radio units in news cars has gone away for the most part leaving another dead end for Sirius.

    With the economy going sour continually, how many extra subscribers does Sirius think it's going to get? Mel Karmazin, CEO of Sirius, keeps lowering projections of new subscribers every month. And the number of users canceling their subscriptions must also be getting higher considering the economy as well.

    Fact is that Sirius has $3.5 billion in debt. If they declare bankruptcy is allows them to void their expensive c

    • by Miamicanes (730264) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @11:01AM (#26863209)

      Don't forget the biggest mistake of all: the merger.

      Had the merger not occurred, Sirius would be mostly breaking even today. Still operating at a slight loss, but its existence as a going concern would not be in jeopardy. XM, on the other hand, would have gone bankrupt a few months ago, and now be in the hands of new owners. The big debt that's coming due in a few days is *XM* debt. Sirius' original debt wasn't due to cause problems for a few more years.

      Mel has destroyed Sirius as a company. He took on XM and its debt load, and achieved nothing besides alienating the customers of both networks for no good reason. The amount of money he saved by consolidating channels was literally pocket change compared to the cost of owning two sets of satellites. I'll give Sirius a pass on Howard for the moment, because he probably WAS worth it to pre-merger Sirius. Remember, before Howard, XM was clearly in #1, and Sirius was the struggling "also-ran". By the end of Year H+1, Sirius was in the lead, and almost making a profit (mostly through creative accounting, but that's still better than XM could do). He wanted XM's bandwidth to launch seatback Barney videos for kids, but ended up gutting the audio quality of both services to add more channels with lower audio fidelity.

      The REAL cost savings would have been for Sirius to sell off both of XM's geostationary satellites & broadcast the two data streams formerly handled by them using Sirius' Molniya satellites(*). Rural indoor users would have either needed a proper outdoor antenna with view of the entire sky, or had to move the antenna puck from windowsill to windowsill like Sirius users do, but it would have improved XM's mobile coverage in mountainous areas (where cars were in the shadow of mountains relative to geostationary satellites) and literally saved them hundreds of millions of dollars.

      ---

      (*) Sirius has a constellation of 4 satellites in modified Molniya orbits. Basically, one satellite is a spare, and the other 3 are arranged so that at any given moment, one satellite is (more or less) "straight up" (relative to Iowa), one satellite is near the horizon, and one is on the other side of the earth. XM's constellation consisted of two satellites in conventional geostationary orbits over the equator.

      Sirius and XM divided their bands into 3 slices, each of which carried the full bitstream. Two slices were broadcast by satellite, and the third slice was broadcast via terrestrial repeaters. I'd be seriously shocked if Sirius' satellites were physically incapable of broadcasting a slice of XM's band, and vice-versa. For one thing, satellite transmitters tend to be designed with fairly open-ended capabilities ANYWAY (they're so expensive to launch, with so much lead time, that the satellite's owner would be financially suicidal to not launch them with a "Plan B" in case the original user falls through. For another, I'm sure XM and Sirius both entertained the prospect that the other's satellites could be knocked out by space debris, solar flare, or some other malfunction... and faced with the prospect of shutting down or paying the other extortionate fees to carry their signal, would grudgingly pay the fees.

  • It's simpler than that. It's just that, between iTunes and existing radio, that's really all the content you need while you are driving. For local sports and talk you don't need internet radio. There's a few million people that have satellite for Howard Stern, but that's really the extent of it. If you are a right winger, there's some sort of talk radio on the AM band that has the celebrities you want, and for the left wing, there is NPR. For everyone else, you already get your local sports on radio,

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Sunday February 15, 2009 @10:29AM (#26863035)
    Ford Prefect is from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse.... he has considerable difficulty understanding why humans tend to continually state the obvious, such as "It's a nice day", or "You're very tall", or "So this is it. We're all going to die", or "expensive subscription services are going to lose massive amounts of business during an economic downturn when cheap and free alternatives with more selection are readily available."
  • ...or even most of it. It won't get good radio in my car on a rural Minnesota highway, or in my airplane - much less getting me weather in my airplane.

  • Poor Sound Quality (Score:2, Informative)

    by ToryGA1 (469105)

    I had SiruisXM service and eventually had to cancel it due to the poor sound quality. As they added more channels, they had to increase the compression on the existing channels to make room. After a while the music channels began to have the tinny quality of AM radio. It was intolerable. I've never been able to figure out why more people don't seem to be bothered by the inferior audio quality. When FM radio begins to have a richer, more satisfying audio quality than subscription radio, then the value o

  • Sorry to disappoint all you high-brow elitists, but Howard Stern is the ONLY reason I subscribe to Sirius. The music channels suxx0r. NFL broadcasts are nice to have, but only useful for part of the year.

    I will go where Howard goes. If he broadcasts on sonar, I'll drop my antenna in the ocean and listen on Sonarus radio.

  • Satellite radio subscriptions are around $15 / month.

    Data plans for the iPhone are around $30-40, plus what you are already paying for voice service.

    Granted, if you really need the unlimited data plan for your phone, and already have it, then it may make sense. But if you are only an occasional data plan user, then trying to justify it by claiming it replaces sat radio would still leave you needing to justify throwing out another $15-25 per month.

    And that is also ignoring the fact that sat radio work
  • That sounds like some rah rah fanboy BS. I can't happily run an iPod in the car, the internet doesn't travel well in the car, my cellphone doesn't have highspeed radio access and if it did I'd still have the same problems I have with the iPod - you can't navigate them in a car traveling down the highway. Sirius/XM is great - convenient access to news, weather, music and sports when I want it. I want Bluegrass music there it is, I want to listen to Jazz, there it is - on my local radio? No chance, it's rap a
  • As a huge fan of Sirius I fought with the ever present problem of never being able to listen without a Sirius receiver. When they came out with the Sirius Internet streaming I was ecstatic! I joyfully fired up my Nokia N95 and tried to go to Sirius.com. It does not work. A service I payed $15.00 a month for would not let me listen to the product. So I went through all the trouble of setting up Orb and uSirius and running a transcoding station at my home PC - just to listen on my mobile. But it just wasn't p
  • by kuzb (724081)

    Sirius XM has been eclipsed by something far cheaper and more convenient: the Internet. Load up Pandora or the Public Radio Tuner on your iPhone, and you've got access to a wider stream of music than you'll ever get through satellite.

    Please don't reference Pandora like it's available to everyone. It isn't. Thanks US government!

  • I've got an Inno and an MP3 Player. I use my Inno far more often. I like the fact that I hear new music and original programming on my radio. So far, the humans are doing a better job than the algorithms of picking the music I like. I also get the NFL, college football, goofy shows like Coast to Coast AM, and several comedy stations. Most, but not all, of this is available on the internet, but at a seriously reduced convenience. It is unsafe to change radio streaming websites while driving on your phone. It

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