The new channel line-ups are in and people are already commenting on new additions, channels that have been removed, playlists, DJ’s, and just about anything you can imagine. Of substantial note is just how alike the two services are now. In terms of commercial free music there are only a handful of unique channels between the two service, most of which are Canadian geared. This means that if you are choosing satellite radio for the music, that the hardware you use will likely be more of a determining factor than the service itself.
- Sirius Hits 1
- CBC Radio 3
- Bande Parte
- Rock Velours
- Energie 2
- 20 on 20
- The Village
- The Groove
- The Verge
- Air Musique
- Sur La Route
With XM you would receive 5 additional commercial loaded channels, and with Sirius you can get 3 additional holiday channels.
What this means is that the biggest difference between the Sirius brand and the XM brand is in the sports, talk and entertainment section of each respective lineup. Even in these sections there are many common channels and shows. The differentiating factors boil down to to only a handful of channels, and if you become a BEST OF subscriber, you erase virtually every difference between the two services.
That being said, from a consumer perspective, who needs an interoperable device at this point? Such a device would allow you to pay $12.95 for Sirius, and $12.95 for XM. That would garner $26 for the company, but given the fact that BEST OF makes the services virtual twins, save the $10, pick out your favorite hardware, and don’t worry anymore. Of course, an interoperable device will come to market. It is a condition of the FCC, but realistically speaking, it will not serve the purpose intended, and will apply to only those consumers that feel that small handful of differences not covered by BEST OF are worth $10 extra per month.
The interoperable device will still come to fruition. It is mandated as part of the merger, and will also allow better utilization of the spectrum. Interoperable is now a benefit to the company more so than the consumer, and for investors, this is a good thing. Fully integrating the spectrum will take time, but when it happens, the bottom line will enjoy many efficiencies, and consumers could well see noticeable improvements to sound quality.
Looking at this from an investors perspective, the company seems to have succeeded in trimming down the duplicate style programs. This should help save the company money, and should allow for consumers to be less concerned about which brand of base service their car comes with.
Position: Long SIRI.