What\’s this, Sirius/XM, the merged satellite radio providers that are supposed to be the future of all radio broadcasting, the in car device that is pushed and hyped by dealers across the land and the home of Howard Stern is about to go belly-up?
That\’s what the rumors say, and in these turbulent times, especially turbulent for any carmaker or anything auto related, it might not just be too far off from happening.
According to Edmunds, the Auto Observer, AND the New York Times Sirius XM is making preparations for a possible bankruptcy filing. Huh? You\’d think they\’d have to be doing something fundamentally wrong to get them selves in these straights. Every time I look up, there\’s a car advertised that hypes the inclusion of a Sirius/XM set up in its dashboard, but it turns out that hype might just be that: a lot of sizzle, and not much steak.
It turns out that neither Sirius nor XM (when they were separate companies) ever turned a profit, and together they have $3.25 billion in debt, which is a LOT of debt for what amounts to a start up, especially a start up with this much market presence, advertising and hoopla. To make matter worse for them, by the end of February, a bill for $175 million will come due.
But you know, is this really all that surprising?
Radio revenues have been dropping for some time, and although Sirius/XM does have Howard Stern on their roster as a high level, well-known personality, go ahead, name another. At that is the problem.
Sirius/XM is little more than a country-wide, satellite version of ground bound, or as they call it \”terrestrial\” radio. And what has been causing the decline in listenership and therefore ad revenue is, if anything, a lack of personality.
With the corporate consolidation of most media over the past 15 – 20 years, whatever amounted to the slightly different, the regional or, for that matter, the interesting, has slowly (or quickly in a lot of cases) been driven off the airwaves.
The songs you hear on the radio in San Francisco are the same ones you\’ll hear in Chicago, and the same ones you\’ll hear in Omaha etc etc etc … and if you don\’t think there\’s a difference between the music produced in Chicago versus, say New Orleans, you need to get out more. No, seriously: get out more. Go see more live music. It\’s really interesting, and good for you to do.
Anyway, you can\’t get much more blander and homogenized than listening to something that a Sirius/XM programmer thinks people in Miami AND people in Seattle want to listen to at 10 in the morning.
So Sirius/XM teeters? Well, sorry for all the employees, especially in the current economic climate, but by and large the company was trying to fill a need that didn\’t even exist.