How Much is Satellite Radio Worth?


At a time when folks are clearly cutting back on discretionary spending, it’s somewhat counter-intuitive to see the newly flush-with-cash Sirius XM raising rates. A blogging buddy received the email blast above earlier this week regarding his $1.98 service fee increase – something he likens to corporate “suicide.” While it may not reach harakiri levels of gore, the fallout from this tacked on “Music Royalty Fee” may not pretty.

At $12.95 a month, and without online streaming, XM Sirius service ran more than I was willing to pay when I canceled last fall. However, I rejoined this spring upon discovering a half off prepay dealio ($77/yr) on Fatwallet. And have been enjoying Lithium in my car ever since.

So I’m wondering where the sweet spot is – How much is Sirius XM worth to you?

18 thoughts on “How Much is Satellite Radio Worth?”

  1. I renewed for a year in December of 08′. I did not get this e-mail. Does this mean since I already paid for 2 receivers for a year, they can’t get me right? That’s really a contract?

    Next December I will have to re-evaluate the situation. May have to resort to Pandora on the IPhone with the AUX input. I do that sometimes now, but keep Sirius for the ease of use and steering wheel controls.

  2. I would be willing to pay up to 30 a month.

    I have had XM in my car since 2000 and enjoyed every minute of it.

    The only time I have listened to regular radio a car is when I am in a car without XM.

    Why do I like XM. Well the variety. If I am in the mood to hear heavy metal XM has it and DC radio does not. If I want to listed to an old time radio show XM has it DC radio does not. If I want to hear Arizona play Jacksonville XM has it DC radio does not.

  3. I have been with XM since the beginning. Everyone said going from 9.95 a month to 12.95 a month was going to kill the service. Well they are still around.

    Now that they are adding the service fee I will probably keep XM due to one reason. 40 minutes an hour of commercials and fluff on FM and Talk Radio. Where is the music and variety. I drive 3 hours a day and if I had to listen to local stations every day during my drive I would go crazy.

    I though about my Zune as being a substitute and yea I have enough podcasts but my music collection would become stale really fast. So I will keep XM as long as it keeps me sane on the road.

  4. I have a lifetime Sirius subscription in my dealer-installed Toyota radio. It was a gamble 2 years ago, and I’m still left wondering how long this will be worth something.

  5. cypher, yeah – you and I won’t hear from them until our prepay period is up.

    I too have used Slacker and Pandora in the car, but it’s not ideal when I want to use the phone for other things. Which is why this rumored Sirius XM Skydock doesn’t add much value other than allowing them to provide things like Howard that they can’t license over the Internet.

    Ron, Yeah I wasn’t so pleased when the service went from $10 – $13. But back then it included online streaming while iPhone, Android, Pre, Blackberry didn’t offer music streaming and podcasts. And, of course XM Sirius was nearly sent into bankruptcy proceedings, bailed out by Liberty at the zero hour. Satellites are expensive and they overpaid for Stern. I suspect convincing new customers to join at $15/mo will be difficult.

    As far as the poll goes, I put down $9/mo as my current max. I’d pay a bit more if the commercials on the non-music channels weren’t so annoying or if they featured fewer ads on the comedy channel and once again throw in online streaming.

    Regarding Scott in the post, he called to cancel when he received this notification. Sirius offered him a $25 credit to stick around, which he took them up on.

  6. Thank you, Dave! I had no idea about this one year deal. Called them up and they begrudgingly gave me a year for $74.85 + 1.98 royalty fee. You saved me 80 bucks! But, in reality, they did make money since I was seriously (no pun intended) considering canceling. Now I’m around for at least another year.

  7. It’s not so much the price that I find discouraging at this point, it’s the deteriorating quality of programming.

    I’ve been an XM subscriber since they first came online. I’m on the road a lot, and being able to stay tuned in to one channel when driving across several states is a great feature. As is being able to tune into the talk shows and cable news channels that I’d miss otherwise.

    I can understand and accept price increases over time… but it would be easier to stomach if they hadn’t downgraded all of the music channels to Sirius’ FM-style playlists. I used to love the depth of XM’s playlists, and being able to discover new artists and obscure tracks. Since the takeover? Bleh. Of the 20 artists I have saved in my TuneSelect, I don’t believe I’ve even seen half of them pop up since the Sirius downgrade.

    I used to have four XM subscriptions–I’m now down to just one in the company car. It’s not so much the price as it is about value. In the early days, I’d probably have been willing to pay double the price. But after years of financial mismanagement by both Sirius and XM throwing money at Stern, MLB, NFL, you name it… turning the music channels into not much more than nationwide FM took a lot of fun out of the service for me.

    It’s a shame, really. Even with iPods and the rise of alternatives like internet radio, I think satellite still serves a very important niche. It’s unfortunate that they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot, and I think it’s only a matter of time until they finish the job and go under.

  8. I originally bought a 3-year subscription to XM, which worked out at less than $9 a month. When it matured, I cancelled because there I stopped commuting and there was too much talk creeping into the “commercial-free” music channels. [XM: why do you think a promotion for XM is OK on a “commercial-free” channel?]. I particularly hated the fake disk jockeys they added to the oldies channels I favor….. all I wanted was music, not some cornball Wolfman Jack wannabe. Or worse, some announcer who told me the name of the song and the artist… info that was right there on the radio if I wanted it?
    So now I sign up for a 3-month stint when I’m going on a cross-country drive…. just so I’ll have access to some of my favorite talk shows and weather no matter how far out in the boonies I am. This costs about $55 including the cancellation fee, but that’s about equal to a tank of gas so I mentally write it off as a trip expense.
    What’s it worth? They need to go to the cable TV model…. if I don’t want anything but music, one flat fee for, say 20 channels of my choice….. I’d pay $100 for a year. They should also add parallel ad-supported music and talk channels for say $25 a year. By charging low, annual fees for limited services they can avoid the cost of monthly billing (which is considerable) and build a customer base to help absorb the horrendously high fixed costs of the satellite system. Beyond that, they can charge plenty for the Howard freaks or MLB or NFL, so unlimited choice.

  9. There is a new movie out called “Stock Shock” that tells the whole Sirius XM story…the merger, the near-bankruptcy, etc. It is a real Hollywood script! “Stock Shock” is at or

  10. As long as Sat Rad is built right into cars – it’ll be fine. Eventually inernet connected cars will be an issue.

    My grip is more about the discrepancy on royalties. FM pays essentially zero yet you hit the ‘Sat’ button on your car radio and they’re forced to pay up.

    What we need is a total overhaul of how musicians, etc get paid.

  11. We should be getting the wifes new CRV EX-L this week. I was pretty psyched that it comes with XM. Then I realized, I only listen to AM sports radio and I will probably be driving her car 3 times a month for 20 min each time. So no I don’t think XM is worth getting. But that’s just me.

  12. After I get through the hours of free podcasts, there really isn’t time for much more in the car. At home, I just have too many options as well.

    Satellite radio doesn’t offer anything unique to the equation, so they’re left out completely. The no-commercials thing attracted me a little in the early days, but now I understand there are almost constant interruptions between songs, so even that has diminished.

  13. Switching to Slacker on my iPhone now. No, it is not the same as XM. I’ve enjoyed XM. But, the cost increase pushes me over the edge.

  14. Oh, I guess I should also mention that the fact that they want to charge me MORE money to listen online or on my iPhone also plays into it. I can’t get service in my office if I bring my player inside, and they can’t seem to find a pricing model where “I” am licensed to listen to XM instead of each device individually.

  15. I dumped XM after the merge. They raised prices, wanted to charge for online streaming, got rid of my favorite channels, and lowered the quality of music. I’d been a loyal subscriber for almost 5 years, but I just couldn’t justify paying that much money for a declining quality service.

    I have since converted to Slacker, got one of their portable players and haven’t looked back. FTW.

  16. I just purchased a new car, it came with a thirty day free trial on its’ satellite radio. I have been trying it for two weeks now. There are only three or four stations I have been listening to. They sound fine but I want to listen to the music I chose. Today I brought my ipod with me, I probably won’t switch back to the radio.

    Video might have killed the radio star but the ipod killed radio.

  17. I like XM and have for a few years. My issue the costs. My wife and I both listen and I think having to pay for each radio is crazy. It should cost lest than $100 a year for two people in a family to enjoy it at the same time. The new XM Skydock does look cool.

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