Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

Why I cancelled my Sirius XM Satellite Radio subscription

technologyEdward Kiledjian18 Comments

After having been a loyal XM radio Canada subscriber for many years, I finally decided to cancel my subscription, and I wanted to share my reasoning (hopefully someone from Sirius XM will read this).

For those that do not know, Sirius XM is a premium satellite radio service that promises crystal clear sound, unmatched variety and commercial free programming on the music channels.

Why I cancelled:

  • Each subscription is attached to a single device. Because I subscribed to their service using my car’s built in receiver, I could not listen to the programming anywhere else. My only option was to buy another portable device+subscription or subscribe to their radio + internet streaming service.
  • At first, the internet streaming service sounds like a good option until you realize that it costs an additional $40 per year and doesn’t include all of the channels included in your subscription.
  • My subscription charge kept increasing every year.
  • They position themselves as a premium commercial free service …. Most music channels do not have commercials but that doesn’t mean continuous uninterrupted music. You still get some channel advertising, annoying DJs, etc. When you tune in to the non-music channels, you get commercial advertising and Sirius XM advertisements.
  • As a Canadian subscriber, some of the better channels aren’t available to me.
  • Lots of channels I never listen to. Sure they offer an interesting variety of content but the reality is that you will probably stick to 10-20 core channels. And this is where the value proposition really starts to take a dive. Are you prepared to spend $200 a year for these 10-20 channels? To stay competitive, they have to adopt the Dell business model allowing customers to custom build their plans.
  • Incompetent and unhappy customer service agents. When I called to try to negotiate the price to make it more palatable, the telephone agent said “This is our pricing model, take or leave it.” To be clear, I was very polite and calm. I was then transferred to the customer loyalty group

As my renewal approached, I was determined to find another option. I wanted something more flexible, cheaper and integrated with my iphone. After reading dozens of posts and testing some options, I chose an app called TuneIn Radio. It is a web/mobile service that allows you to listen to thousands of radio stations from around the world. My primary interests were talk radio, comedy and finance shows, all was content I found easily. It allowed me to record, pause  or rewind a broadcast I was listening to. A recent update also added “Car Mode” making it much easier to operate the app while driving.

When I want music, I either stream it from my library or load up my VPN (to the US) and enjoy the wonders of Pandora. All for free. If XM wants to remain relevant in a world that is increasingly connected, they have to offer a new per subscriber pricing model that can be used anywhere the subscriber goes. They have to substantially drop the prices for their receivers and they have to start offering more tailored plans where I don’t have to pay for the channels I never listen to.