Seriously, XM Or Sirius?

I can’t believe I’m still getting comments on my XM versus Sirius post of several months ago. One reader just submitted:

I’ve read everyone’s opinion here about who is better. I’m a DISH Network subscriber, so I have a sampling of Sirius’ programming channels. I’ve liked what I’ve heard thus far from Sirius. The channel line-up, to me, looks to be stronger on the Sirius-side of the camp, and several above claim that Sirius has the edge on technology with better sound.

That said, XM is clearly the more dominant of the two mediums. XM is everywhere, and endorsed by far more products. XM’s subscriber base is (from the last statistics I’ve seen) over triple the Sirius subscriber base. Whereas Sirius is posting revenue increases compared to some of XM’s loss the last quarter, can that be attributed to re-vamping of its systems to improve quality? I feel that XM would definitely win the attrition war given the clear dominance in subscriber-base over Sirius.

I think back to my childhood, and I can’t help but think of another product debate: VHS vs. Beta. Sony’s Betamax was the be-all-end-all product in regards to picture quality and features, and VHS was clearly the underdog in technology. However, VHS quickly took the numbers control of the market (why? I don’t know, like I said, it was my childhood), and fewer and fewer Beta content options were becoming available. Eventually VHS won, and Betamax was no more.

XM vs. Sirius, VHS vs. Betamax: which way do I go?

I live in the Chicagoland area, and my favorite hard rock alternative radio station, 94.7 The Zone, just abruptly changed programming formats at noon on Monday, September 26th. The final song was Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” then it switched to this adfomercial about Chicago radio, and the classic oldies rock roots it has. BLAM! Here come the ’60s Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, etc. Every time a good hard-rock station is on the airwaves in Chicago, some corporate suit decides that they can make more ad sales revenue by switching to classic oldies rock. 95.5 WMET, 106.7 Z-Rock, 103.5 The Blaze, 96.7 Will Rock, and now 94.7 The Zone. I’m tired of format changes, and at 12:05 yesterday, I decided that I am going to take control of my airwaves, and subscribe to satellite (and no longer be subject to what some suit thinks will sell more ads).

Sorry, I’ll get off my Chicago radio soapbox.

To me, it’s a numbers game. When I look at the numbers, XM is definitely in the lead. Will Sirius go the way of Betamax, and we’ll end up with a useless hunk of hardware? Or will Sirius co-exist peacefully with XM, like DISH Network co-exists with DirectTV? Are both likely to remain on the air, and the choice is really up to the user to pick what they want in satellite radio?

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.