HD Radio and Satellite Radio: Too Much Choice

I think a primary motivation for HD Radio reflects a “look over our shoulder” at Satellite.

But perhaps we should question one of our main assumptions about what makes Satellite theoretically superior, even if Satellite didn’t (or, at least, is pretending not to).

That assumption goes like this: More choice is better.

But as Business Week’s David Kiley points out: “Consumers, it seems to me, want choices, but also simplicity and clarity.”

Choice can obfuscate clarity (even the word “obfuscate” obfuscates clarity, but you get my point). And more choice means more air as transparent as pea soup.

The presence of three times as many HD stations as the conventional ones we have now will invariably push down shares, diminish loyalties, blandify distinctions, quadruple up on same-sounding music options, and create a tidal wave of new radio stations intended exclusively as potential spoilers and competitor blockers.

Where is the listener in all of this, you might ask?

Nowhere to be found.

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