First time satellite radio listeners may be confused at their choices: XM or SIRIUS. Both companies offer digital content transmitted via satellite. Both stations offer a variety of channels and a long range of content suitable for adults as well as for entire families. An even more confusing fact is that as of 2008, XM and SIRIUS have now merged. However, this is doesn't necessarily mean that both stations are going to become one company. Nor does it mean that one of the stations will go under. Both will continue to exist though there will be some special features which will combine the two networks.
First, consider the differences between XM and SIRIUS. XM currently offers 73 music channels, 39 news channels (as well as sports, talk and entertainment), 21 regional channels and 23 play-by-play sports channels. SIRIUS currently offers 69 channels of music and 65 streams of sports, news and entertainment. Who has the edge between these two similar networks? It mainly depends on what content you enjoy listening to.
As far as sports go, SIRIUS has the edge, as they not only offer many channels covering sporting events, but are also the official satellite radio partner of the NFL, as well as an exclusive deal with NASCAR. However, when it comes to news programs XM has a much stronger hold on the pulse of the world, especially with brand-name news providers like ABC, Bloomberg Radio, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, The Weather Channel and BBC World News.
How about in entertainment? This is a tough category, since both stations offer a wide range of comedy and entertainment programs, including unique content that can't quite be duplicated on each other's network. XM's comedy shows are more mainstream, whereas SIRIUS has a wider range of content, stemming from adult-oriented shows, to entertainment shows, children's programming, religious channels and a variety of lifestyle shows. Most users agree that SIRIUS offers bolder content all around, while XM manages to cater to both mainstream tastes and niche tastes.
However, the playing field has changed with the news of XM and SIRIUS merger. In the coming months, a customer will not feel compelled to order both SIRIUS and XM stations, as he or she will be able to subscribe to one service and then listen to highlights from the alternative station. Additionally, in lieu of the merger, the rumored "interoperable receiver" will eventually be released to customers, without interference by the FCC. This device allows listeners to listen to all programming from both stations. It will even let listeners create their own cart of programming channels from both networks.
Both services offer prices that are very similar, though there are various rebate options, special offers and in some cases, even free receivers. What network should you choose? Regardless, you can bet that you are in good hands as both satellite radio networks are now combined in their efforts to provide an alternative to terrestrial radio. Visit the SIRIUS and XM website to find out more about how the merger will affect you in the coming months.
Bob Maines is a satellite radio specialist with several years of experience selling and installing SIRIUS Radio.