While the connected dashboard is a concept that holds lots of promise for streaming stations, it’s no secret that it poses a point of concern for platforms that already own the dashboard real estate – like broadcast and satellite. Last year Sirius XM added 2 million net subscribers, and a lot of those came from folks who bought cars with the product already installed. That’s a big source of new audience for Sirius XM. While the streaming industry is busy declaring victory with every new car that integrates Pandora, iHeartRadio, Aha or TuneIn, Sirius is busy thinking about protecting its turf from the new dashboard.
Enter MySXM, the satellite company’s streaming option for listeners. CEO Jim Meyers positions the new streaming platform as a defensive move, pointing out that SiriusXM will have an advantage by offering both satellite and IP options in the dashboard. “Listeners also don’t need to constantly lean forward to create a tailored listening experience. They can just tune to the music channels they already like and adjust the channel’s unique slider controls and set them once for good or change them any time they want….This new feature will further enhance our IP offering, which has been greatly improved over the past year and now includes the ability to time shift up to five hours on many stations, start songs at the beginning when tuning to a music channel and the ability to play thousands of hours of talk and entertainment from over 300 shows from our library of on-demand content.
Though there is no official launch date for MySXM yet, information from the call yesterday was that the platform will be available across all platforms and devices.
Things aren’t looking so bad for Sirius XM these days. They finished 2010 with more than 20 million subscribers, and renewed their contract with Howard Stern, and managed to report profits for most of last year. And while the crisis isn’t over – they still have plenty of debt to worry about – the skies seem to be brightening.
In part, they can thank Pandora for that. Pandora, who filed papers last week as a first step in their move to go public, is raising awareness of and interest in new radio technologies. And while Sirius XM isn’t really an Internet radio company, they have a substantial presence online, and could certainly head in that direction.
Actually, I’ve begun to wonder if they haven’t already – they just announced a new deal that puts them on Sonos Internet radio devices along with Pandora and others. They’re working on a new platform for Android, they’re already on iPhone. They are already in the Internet radio game – and getting an extra $2.99 a month for it from their subscribers.
Pandora’s impressed a bunch of folks with their stats – 80 million registered users is an impressive number. But we know from the filing that less than 10% of them are paying customers – and while Pandora is watching ad dollars flow in, they have a big job in front of them in turning all those listeners into advertising revenue. Pandora’s subscribers listen to ad-free music streams.
Meanwhile, Sirius XM has reported that they have more than 20 million subscribers as of the end of 2010. Who are both paying to listen AND listening to commercials. Auto sales are on the upswing, and Sirius XM gains subs from that as well.
Analysts are liking Sirius XM, and I have to say their business model is starting to look somewhat sound…
If you’re trying to think of a creative gift for someone this Christmas, streaming devices could be the way to go. Everyone’s buzzing about Pandora, and I find that when the topic comes up most people are interested in hearing about other ways to listen as well. Here’s a rundown of some options that are getting nice reviews.
Livio Radio. These radios are essentially plug and play Internet radio devices. You turn them on, they find the Internet and in a few minutes you’re streaming your favorite station. Pick a model that’s branded for Pandora or NPR, or one that isn’t (either way you can tune in thousands of stations). CNET and others give it high marks.
Chumby. This cute cube is really an Internet radio and more – it’s actually a tabletop internet ready device, designed to be a digital photo frame and alarm clock that also allows you to listen online, check news and weather, watch videos, play games. Sony liked it so much they licensed its dashboard for their own Sony Dash.
Motorola T505. How about a bluetooth device that enables streaming from your iPhone to your fm car radio? There are several, my husband uses this one and cancelled his Sirius XM subscription over a year ago with no regrets. Now he streams Pandora and other stations to his car stereo with this device. It clips to your visor, tells you where to tune in, and is very easy to use.
Apple TV. In case you haven’t read about Apple’s new AirPlay technology, it’s all about sending streams from handheld devices to home stereo equipment and it’s getting a lot of praise. The Apple TV costs just 99 bucks and it’s getting great reviews for easily connecting your iPhone, iTouch, iPad to your television or home stereo.
Give streaming music to everyone this year – it’s a hot gift that will make them happy and grow the user base at the same time…
In the interest of full disclosure I’d like to point out that I work with Livio Radio as a consultant. And I listen to one too!