Thursday, September 16, 2021

SiriusXM May Silence Sirius Platform By Mid-Decade

SiriusXM Pandora could shut down one of its two satellite radio platform by the middle of the decade, the company’s chief executive remarked this week, according to

Speaking at an investor’s conference this week, SiriusXM Pandora Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Witz said the company was moving forward with the rollout of its next-generation, Internet-connected satellite radio hardware, while at the same time considering plans to shut off one of its older satellite radio platforms.

Jennifer Witz
Prior to 2008, SiriusXM existed as two separate companies — Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Radio — each competing against the other with a similar line-up of channels that were received by customers through a fleet of independent satellites through streams that were encoded using different methods.

The decision by each company to use its own proprietary method of encoding and transmitting satellite radio service meant that hardware radios that received Sirius signals were not able to decode XM signals and vice-versa. It also meant that the combined SiriusXM was effectively forced to continue operating two independent satellite radio platforms post merger.

Complicating matters was a set of long-term deals that Sirius and XM made with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of radios for new cars. Those deals largely required that an automaker deal exclusively with one company for satellite radio service.

Immediately after the merger, SiriusXM began to lessen its reliance on the Sirius platform, choosing to use the XM platform for new plug-and-play radios and so-called “SiriusXM Radio” aftermarket radios. But the company continued to maintain its long-term deals with OEMs for car radios rather than try to start anew, widening any potential bridge between the Sirius and XM radio platforms for at least several more years.

Speaking at a media conference on Monday, Witz said car radio subscriptions “will continue to remain the foundation of our business, and we’re working hard to maintain our dominant position there,” but added that newer technology allowed the in-car experience to evolve into one where “sometime in the coming years…we’ll, only really need one of our two broadcast systems to deliver the current business.”

One of those technological advancements is SiriusXM’s next-generation broadcast platform 360L, which marries its traditional satellite radio delivery through the XM Radio platform with an expanded lineup of channels, Pandora-like stations and on-demand content offered through its streaming service.

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