TORONTO - More than a year in the works, Sirius and XM users can finally find out what the other is listening to for an extra $4 a month. But can SiriusXM’s new premier subscription service compete against free?
With the launch of “Best Of” SiriusXM Canada is following the lead of its U.S. counterpart and is now offering subscription packages allowing Canadian Sirius and XM subscribers to add a selection of channels from the other service.
"Our combined subscriber base has been waiting for this exciting benefit since the Sirius XM Canada merger and we're excited to be able to offer the best of both services with Premier programming. This new offering will significantly enhance and extend our subscribers' entertainment experience," said SiriusXM Canada President and CEO Mark Redmond.
Sirius subscribers will be able to add premium XM content such as NHL, NBA, Opie & Anthony and the PGA while XM subscribers will be able to add premium Sirius content including Howard Stern, NASCAR, NFL games and more. Sirius and XM Premier subscriptions will be available at a monthly cost of $19.99, or $4.00 more than the cost of the current packages.
Sirius Canada and XM Canada officially merged last June to form SiriusXM Canada but the combined service continues to lose money and it even called on the CRTC to reduce its Canadian content this past summer.
In its license CRTC renewal hearing, the Toronto-based company argued it needed to cut its mandatory contributions to artistic development funds by about 90% it was to become profitable.
While radio stations have been enjoying some of their strongest earnings ever, SiriusXM Canada faces a growing online threat from consumers who are finding similar content for free.
“SiriusXM Canada has been losing money at a disturbing rate,” the company conceded in a filing to the CRTC. In its 3rd quarter SiriusXM posted a $4-million loss, compared to a $9-million loss a year ago, even though its number of paying subscribers increased by 13% from the same time last year, to 1.5 million.
Over the past year online competition has continued to grow with Rdio, Slacker Radio, Montreal-based Stingray Digital’s Galaxie, and free services such as Shoutcast and the new CBCmusic.
To counter the trend SiriusXM is also launching a new suite of Internet Radio and mobile listening apps on October 1 for Android and iOS that will provide greater personalization and access to more content.
Customers will have an access to artist biographies and album art and can restart a currently-playing song from the beginning. To further enhance the customers experience the company is introducing “On Demand functionality” through which customers can access over 200 shows such as entertainment, commercial-free music, sports, comedy and exclusive talk.
Future SiriusXM products, including the Lynx touch screen radio ($299), will leverage SiriusXM Internet Radio functionality by offering subscribers PVR-like features and on demand service. The new services provides more control over how subscribers listen to satellite radio and offer a new way to enjoy SiriusXM Internet Radio via Wi-Fi networks.
But with the growing rollout of 4G networks across Canada, the U.S. and most of Europe, SiriusXM may soon face its most serious threat yet.