An On-Demand World? Somebody tell Sirius XM

It’s an on-demand world.

How many times have you heard that?

Consumers – especially younger ones – can’t begin to fathom anything as quaint and antiquated as “appointment viewing” or “appointment listening” because everything and anything they want is available now, in one form, another, or all of them at once.

If there’s any brand that imagines an alternate universe where none of this is true, it’s Sirius XM.

Content is their mantra over at Sirius XM, and there are more than 100 channels to find that content. ¬†Each one littered with a “special” this or an “exclusive” that. ¬†Each one featuring content aired on particular days and at particular times. Each one using each other one to cross-promote the very types of appointments nobody makes anymore to people who are only remotely likely to care.

What fresh Hell is this?

Does anybody know what’s on and when it’s on Sirius XM?

Not only don’t you know, even the people who work there don’t know.

Sirius XM is like that box you buy at the estate auction that has tons of mystery stuff in it but you can’t explore any of it until you actually buy the box.

And it doesn’t help that virtually no Sirius XM device allows you to schedule recordings of can’t-miss programming, because evidently Sirius has decided there’s no programming so important you can’t be allowed to miss it.

One would think that a subscription to Sirius XM might invite you to a universe of on-demand content where you could sample and subscribe via RSS to any thread of content that interested you.

One would think that such a subscription would evaluate what you like and recommend other things you might like based on those preferences.

One would think that you’d never have to miss something that interests you on Sirius XM.

One would think that this would not only increase your satisfaction with Sirius XM, but would also increase the service’s value proposition and its subscription momentum.

One would think.

But evidently one would be wrong.

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  • leviramsey

    Next year, Sirius XM 2.0 launches with some level of on-demand and adaptive programming likely among the features.

  • If history is any judge, it will be less than what folks want and less than what Sirius needs.

  • Kyra Geithman

    I agree. I used to use Sirius XM as my primary radio, but now that I can find basically anything I want online, I rarely ever listen to it.

  • Is it -really- an on-demand world?

    The BBC (over 50% market share in the UK) offers on-demand of all of its 10 national networks, and local radio, online – on a website called the BBC iPlayer (it's available ex-UK for radio). I used to work on it.

    The BBC iPlayer was designed for on-demand: not live radio listening. Yet 80% of the usage of audio on the iPlayer was to… LIVE radio. Not on-demand. (The internet accounts for less than 5% of total radio listening in the UK, too. And no, the UK's not that much different from the US.)

    Radio's benefit is that you hit the “on” button, and it entertains you until you hit the “off” button. A friend of mine jokes that it should be renamed the 'entertain me' button. He's probably not wrong.

    I don't disagree that on-demand content on the Sirius XM website ought to be an obvious include… but I also disagree that it's “an on-demand world”. For radio, at least, it's nowhere near that.

  • Hi James,

    Well on demand includes not only players with choices but direct downloads and podcasts as well as third party distribution where it's enabled. So you'd have to factor those things in – and God knows they are very meaningful here in the US for public radio in particular.

    Also I think there's the question of past versus future. I agree that radio has historically been the “on” button that entertains you until you hit the “off” button, and this is a big advantage.

    But TV was once the very same thing. And it is no more. And Blockbuster was once the “on/off” button for video rentals, but no more. Sure they carry plenty of the market in the traditional way, but they are unquestionably making room for more options driven by the consumer on her schedule and at her control.

    The larger question I think is whether radio will be constructed to be worthy of being on demand (i.e., programs and shows worth seeking out) or designed strictly as a passive utility (i.e., “the best mix of music”). The answer is obviously “both,” but to forsake the former for the latter (as we in the US are prone to do) will forsake our future for our past.

  • The other thing I predict is that this effort will be provided as yet another premium priced option on an already premium priced platform.

    And as such it will disappoint, just as Sirius's current premium-priced streaming efforts are disappointing.

  • jv333

    i rented a car with the satellite radio available. by the time i would run through the stations, i would arrive at my destination. people don't want some generic content with some distant voice originating from who knows where (unless it's reliable news which is likely more realistic in the UK than in the US)…listeners would prefer talk programming that is live and local…and enlightening…which probably accounts for the increase in the NPR audience.

  • MUSCLE13

    I guess you were wrong Mark

  • If by “wrong” you mean something obvious I complained about two full years ago was finally fixed two full years later. Then I guess you can call that “wrong.”
    I’d call it “prescient.”

  • MUSCLE13

    Sorry Mark – Meant to post you were wrong on the bottom here in reference to these comments —

    other thing I predict is that this effort will be provided as yet
    another premium priced option on an already premium priced platform.

    And as such it will disappoint, just as Sirius’s current premium-priced streaming efforts are disappointing.
    If history is any judge, it will be less than what folks want and less than what Sirius needs.
    Personalized radio coming next.

  • Yes, I was wrong about that!

    I’m actually surprised they didn’t do this. But I’m not so sure the incremental value can support a higher rate, seeing what they are providing on-demand.
    Thanks for the call-out!

  • MUSCLE13

    I think you are 100% right about On Demand being important. I am surprised terrestrial radio isn’t on this too. The trick is making serious money on the net. I don’t think anybody has figured that out yet going back to the 1990s. Thanks for all your thought provoking posts.

  • And thank you for the comments!

    Mark Ramsey

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