XM and SIRIUS to Offer A La Carte Programming

New receivers will allow you to choose channels from either one of them, with 50 channels costing $7, and 100 channels $15.
To ease the concerns of the FCC that the merged company will be an entertainment monopoly, they have come up with a detailed plan to provide subscribers with more choices and lower prices and pave the way for a unique form of competition in the entertainment industry – one that is based on the individual programming preferences of listeners.

Tomorrow, XM and SIRIUS plan to file details of new al la carte programming and pricing plans with the FCC that are billed as a means of setting “…a new standard in audio entertainment and subscription media, offering lower prices, package options, and ‘best of both’ offerings.”

The new plans will give consumers the ability to choose from an array of different packages and price points, ranging from $6.99 – $16.99. A la carte programming will be available beginning within one year following the merger, and the other programming options will be available beginning within six months following the merger.

The combined SIRIUS-XM will also offer several other new programming packages, including two “family-friendly” options, as well. Those choosing one of the “family-friendly” options will be able to block adult-themed programming and, for the first time, receive a price credit for doing so.

“Mel and I are very excited about being able to offer a la carte programming. We think this is going to be great for consumers and great for our business. From the day this transaction was announced, we promised that the merger would enable us to deliver more choices and lower prices for consumers. In our filing tomorrow with the FCC, we will offer detailed plans regarding how we will achieve those goals. These plans will further demonstrate why this merger is overwhelmingly good for consumers and in the public interest,” said Gary Parsons, Chairman of XM Satellite Radio.

“The a la carte options and other packages unveiled today demonstrate that consumers will be the beneficiaries of this merger. The efficiencies of the merger will allow the combined companies to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year and give us the opportunity to increase the number of programming options available to subscribers,” said Mel Karmazin, CEO of SIRIUS Satellite Radio.

The companies announced a total of 8 post-merger programming and pricing options, all of which adhere to the companies’ commitment to maintain and enhance service to existing devices and to ensure that no consumer pays more after the merger than they do today.

So what are some of the details?

A LA CARTE PROGRAMMING

Consumers will select their channels on-line allowing them to easily review the full-range of each company’s programming choices. A la carte programming will only be available for subscribers using new radios, which will be developed following approval of the merger.

OPTION #1

  • 50 Channels ($6.99) — Currently the only standard package offered by either company is $12.95 a month. Under this new option, for only $6.99 per month — 46% cheaper — consumers will be able to choose either 50 SIRIUS channels from approximately 100 SIRIUS channels or 50 XM channels from approximately 100 XM channels. Additional channels can be added for 25 cents each, with premium packages priced at additional cost. No one choosing this option will pay more than $12.95 a month.

OPTION #2

  • 100 Channels ($14.99) — SIRIUS customers will be able to choose from some of the best of XM’s programming and XM customers will be able to choose from some of the best of SIRIUS’ programming. Today this programming would require two monthly subscriptions, totaling $25.90. The new 100 channel a la carte option represents a savings of 42%.

BEST of BOTH PACKAGES

Currently, if consumers want the best of both XM and SIRIUS, they need two satellite radios and two separate monthly subscriptions totaling $25.90. Following the merger of SIRIUS and XM, consumers will be able to obtain the best of both SIRIUS and XM, on any of today’s satellite radio devices with one monthly subscription price of $16.99, a savings of 34%.

XM customers would continue to receive their existing XM service, and be able to obtain certain SIRIUS programming. SIRIUS customers would continue to receive their existing SIRIUS service, and be able to obtain certain XM programming.

FAMILY FREINDLY PACKAGES

Both companies already enable comprehensive channel blocking and parental controls today but, after the merger, consumers who purchase a family friendly version of XM Everything or SIRIUS Everything can do so for $11.95, a credit of $1.00 per month.

SIRIUS customers will also be able to choose a family-friendly version of SIRIUS programming that includes select XM programming, and XM customers can select a family-friendly XM programming option that includes select SIRIUS programming. Either of these packages will cost $14.99 per month with a credit of $2.00 per month from the cost of the “best of” packages.

MOSTLY MUSIC or JUST NEWS

Following the merger, consumers will also have the option of choosing a package of SIRIUS or XM “Mostly Music” programming, or a SIRIUS or XM News, Sports and Talk programming for $9.99 per month, a savings of 23% compared to today’s standard subscription of $12.95.

Moreover, this new announcement by XM and SIRIUS may just be what’s needed to show the FCC in detail how it plans to keep prices low for consumers and offer them additional programming choices and options.

With these new pricing and packaging plans, and the fact that the Catholic Archbishop of New York himself has come out in favor of the merger, saying in fact that it’s “…an unmatched opportunity to strengthen this new medium and position satellite radio to compete with the ever-growing list of audio entertainment providers,” perhaps we satellite radio listeners finally have the winning hand we’ve needed along – cheaper pricing, God, and of course, Howard (no K) Stern.