We are about a week into the new programming at Sirius XM. As part of the merger it only made sense to consolidate the line-ups and eliminate duplicity. While I know that there are channel fans that will say that their favorite was not part of the duplicity and was still eliminated, and I feel for you, decisions had to be made. The crowd that hate the changes are always the ones we hear when something like this happens, and true to form, there is no exception with Sirius XM Radio.
First and foremost, there is the complaint that the changes came virtually without warning. I hate to be the bearer of the news here, but this is how it is done. No company in their right mind would publish something informing everyone that changes are afoot. It would create weeks of confusion, and take focus away from those charged with implementing the change. Rarely does someone get a warning when they are being layed off. One rare exception to this was when Howard announced he was coming to satellite. That change was well known, and in the end, CBS was quite frustrated that the news was known.
Secondly, there was no way that these changes could make everyone happy. Someone will always be upset, while others will be elated. It is again how things work. Sirius XM had a limited number of channel slots, and had many genres to fill those slots. The company was in the unenviable position of trying to satisfy every taste, something which in point of fact can not be done. How many Blues channels make sense? How many classic rock channels can you have? Sirius XM had many factors to consider, and first and foremost was the data that they had. They had the ability to know the popularity of every channel they broadcast for each respective service. In some cases, XM's programming won out. In others, it was the Sirius programming that won, and in some cases, neither won, and a channel was eliminated. Rest assured that the decisions were not made in a vacuum, and the channel line-up was not born from putting all of the choices in a hat and subject to a random drawing.
People typically are adverse to change. It is one of the challenges that has faced satellite radio from the beginning. For many, the thought of paying for radio was a change that was too extreme. It took the GM deal to create the push. It took Howard Stern to drive the demand. Even then, the company has still not delivered a profit. Do additional music channels suffer to bring more talk and sports. yes, they do, but these non-music channels also have their die hard fans.
So what is a fan who lost their favorite channel to do? Cancel their subscription? Find new compelling content? My suggestion is two fold. First, explore the dial. The differences are not as stark as many may initially believe. The second is to get organized, and let Sirius XM know what you miss and why. I had suggested on the latest SiriusBuzz radio show that listeners who feel scorned should start a forum thread expressing their desire to get their favorite channel back. To date, very few have taken such action.
People also need to understand that Sirius XM has not yet made a profit. Yes, they have some expensive content deals, and that impacts the bottom line, but it still does not change the current situation. The company needs to get to profitability, and to do so, needs to appeal to the widest ranging audience possible. This may mean that for a period of time that there needs to be a more mainstream feel to the content offered. When the time comes that the mainstream content gets the company to profits, the company will then have the luxury of airing channels to more specific tastes. One suggestion I would make to Sirius XM is to have additional channels on their Internet service. This would allow the company to gauge channels prior to adding them to the main service.
While many here will be critical of my next words, I can't help but make a point. More specifically geared content is why I enjoy Slacker so much. You can generate artist specific channels, and create a "radio station" that suits your tastes. The more you use the service, the more it becomes what you want. additionally, if there is a song you don't like, you can ban it. If you simply are not in the mood for a particular song, skip it. The service is intuitive, simple, and best of all, very customizable. Slacker does not replace my satellite radio. It compliments it. Slacker bills itself as the solution for connoisseurs of music. For SDARS fans that are frustrated with the channel line-up, Slacker may have an appeal. However, understand that there may come a day when even Slacker needs to make changes. the RIAA charges their highest rates for Internet listening.
Position: Long SIRI.