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Sun Sets on Satellite, But Premium Radio Plays On

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Martine Rothblatt, founder of the company that became Sirius XM Radio (s siri), earlier this week expressed doubts about Sirius in its current incarnation, saying that the “better time for satellite radio was 10 years ago.”  While I’ve long argued that Internet radio would surpass satellite radio with the adoption of broadband wireless, and while that is indeed becoming the case, it’s besides the point. Sirius need not be confined to delivering content via satellite.

Albert Cheng, EVP of digital media for Disney-ABC Television Group (s dis), noted on a panel discussion on Tuesday that “ABC thinks of itself as a multiplatform entertainment company, with numerous distribution avenues, not simply a traditional broadcaster any longer.” Sirius needs to embrace a similar approach. I view Sirius not so much as a satellite radio service but rather a provider of “premium radio.” The HBO of radio, if you will. That is, its investment into aggregating premium content and programming ostensibly warrants the premium that end users are asked to pay. How that content is packaged and delivered will vary according to the various distribution platforms available to end users. 

Sirius is thus no different than HBO, Showtime, ABC or even The New York Times (s NYT). Granted, the satellites that it’s spent hundreds of millions of dollars to deploy and operate may become obsolete or redundant in the coming years, but an obsolete distribution platform shouldn’t impact whether Sirius can make a business out of aggregating and providing “premium radio.”  Of course, whether they can do so, how long it will take and how big of a business it can be all remain to be seen.

Raghav “Rags” Gupta is V-P of International Partnerships at Brightcove, where he has worked since 2005. His blog can be found at

10 Responses to “Sun Sets on Satellite, But Premium Radio Plays On”

  1. Salty917

    As an XM subscriber I am thrilled to have this service. I just renewed my subscription for my 3rd year. The varitaty of programming is great, something for everyone. I lost a few bucks when Goldman Saks downgraded Sirus stock then came the crash. I’m holding my shares and if worse comes to worse I sell at a loss and write it off. But I will not give up my satelite radio.

    • XM Subscriber

      First off Sirius satellites assets are mainly not theres but leased from real companies. The only Satellites they own now is Rock and Roll which were launched by XM. Currently Sirius is leases bandwith and transponder spots from Echostar communications for there sirius broadcast.

  2. These hacks have nothing better to write about and wait for a stock to create a buz then bash it, I’m sorry to say that the media can drive a stock but facts are facts and everything else sells papers lol. Why is it that they cant just say everything is undervalued with this economy, I’ve seen it many times and it always comes back??? You would be a Idiot not to pour a little money in the market. Blue light Special on Wallstreet

  3. EG … thank you for that post.Is it just me or are the shorts getting into everything? This article was released several times over the past few weeks and it seems to me any time SIRI amkes any gains the shorts are trying to beat them down. PLEASE PEOPLE … this is an excellent servise and one that I have personally have enjoyed for many years. LEAVE THIS COMPANY ALONE AND LET THEM SUCCEED ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. its really funny how scared all of this big broadcasting terrestrial radio companies are if they constantly need to publish how bad Sirius is and how wonderful they are. It they are so big and there entertainment platform is dominant then they shouldn’t have to resort to bashing them constantly . Its interesting how Sirius never does that to them …

  5. ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz………….Oh come on. How many times can you underpaid professional writers keep publishing the same story over and over? Everyone has posted this one at least 20 times over the last two weeks. News is something NEW not old reports that have already been addressed as ulterior motives of a paid opinion to once again demise Sirius from a bitter has been ex CEO. What you have here is disreputable lies. The likelihood of Sirius going bankrupt and obsolete is a joke and if it does it will be in three years when the 500 million is used up. Please keep the stock prices down by irresponsible journalism so I can keep buying more before the economy picks up and they are back above the red. Thanks again!

  6. Isn’t it amazing that whenever SIRI stock surges, they dig up the same, old recycled article from Martine/Martina? Three times this week alone. Fact is, Liberty is now calling the shots so Sirius will remain viable.

  7. egiscodr

    Sirius is NOT restricted to satellites. I personally beta tested the uSirius StarPlayr. Sirius is FAR better than Slacker and Pandora. Internet radio is not a threat. When will you people get it? Sirius IS just like the HBO of radio. Once people get the service, they generally do not leave.

    The media is afraid of competition. Stories like this are a joke. Mr Rothblatt is a moron. Glad that idiot is not at the helm of Sirius. No foresight whatsoever.