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XM Canada this week reported its financial results for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2010.

After five years of operation, the results at XM Canada can only be described as extremely disappointing. During its infancy, founder John Bitove had continually pronounced that XM would have one million customers by August 31, 2010. The actual number is less than half of Mr. Bitove’s predictions. In contrast, XM’s only competitor, Sirius Canada surpassed the one million subscriber mark in January of this year
 

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I think its pretty safe to say that Sirius Canada has kicked XM Canada's butt in the first five years of operation. While John Bitove made great pronouncements, Sirius built up its customer base.

XM Canada operating loss was $8 million last year and I suspect its ARPU was lower than Sirius' as well.

My guess is Sirius with over a million customers and a higher ARPU made $60 or $70 million in the last year.
 

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What is Sirius' advantage over XM?

I choose XM Canada because they offered a more comprehensive sports programming package (MLB and NHL) and better comedy channels.

Sirius has Howard Stern.
 

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I canceled XM due when they canceled their high bit rate internet streaming a couple of years ago. The XM radio had lots of objectionable distortion as well. Subbed to Sirius when one of their radios went on sale. The radio is much better and the streaming sounded much better (though XM has since addressed that.) Personally, I liked XM's content much better but there is little difference now, especially on the music stations that I listen to.

Apart from that, there seems to be a general impression around here that Sirius is better than XM. Word of mouth could account for a lot of the difference.
 

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Sirius advantage over XM: For those who live near the mountains or travel through the mountains, Sirius is the only option unless you want continuous drop outs due to lose of signal. This is due to the differrences in the satellite configurations for both providers.

Personally the XM sports package should be the winner, but due to the reception issues, I decided to go back to Sirus with the "Best of XM", which is only provided through a US account with Sirius. This provides me with the full coverage of NHL hockey games.
 

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What is Sirius' advantage over XM?
One thing I have noticed is that with Sirius built into three separate vehicles, I have never experienced loss of signal while driving, whereas driving my mother-in-law's Malibu, XM cut out several times during a four hour drive.

I do, however, doubt that many people would choose Sirius over XM for that reason alone.
 

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Why did Sirius succeed and XM didn't?

Some reasons I think (in order of importance)

  • In the beginning, Sirius offered more stations than XM in Canada at a better price.
  • Sirius was perceived as offering better reception outside of Canadian urban centers.
  • Sirius Canada out hustled and out marketed XM Canada. Paid more attention to the retail market while XM stuck with Automotive.
  • Howard Stern
 

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The reason is obvious (even though many do not like to admit it):

Howard Stern = millions of subscribers

XM Canada does not offer Howard Stern and therefore they don't get the same number of subscribers that Sirius Canada gets.

However, that may soon change, if Howard chooses not to sign a new contract with Sirius which ends in about 6 weeks.

In that event, I think both XM Canada and Sirius Canada are in serious (no pun intended) trouble.
 

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Sirius was kicking XM's butt prior to the Stern announcement.

Go back in the forums prior to Stern and Sirius was the clear favourite for everyone because they offered way more stations.
 

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Not true. XM Canada was ahead of Sirius Canada in the beginning months. Look it up. The likely reasons were:

1. XM Canada launched first.
2. XM Canada's monthly subscription fee was a couple dollars cheaper than Sirius Canada's.
3. Sirius Canada initially announced that they would NOT be carrying Howard Stern.

However, due to enormous pressure from Canadian Howard Stern fans, Sirius Canada relented and announced that they would add Howard 100 to their lineup. From that point on, subsriptions soared and Sirius Canada left XM Canada in the dust.
 

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I've had Sirius for almost a year now. Since I haven't ever had XM, i can't make that comparison. But as far as general impressions, I've been reasonably happy with the channel selection and musical playlists. But the sound quality is poor imho - very compressed. I've also been surprised by the amount of dropouts i experience just driving on the 401 in the GTA. Even at ~100km/h going under overpasses can knock it out for a moment. BTW, my unit is a Mazda factory-installed one.

But compared to commercial radio - I MUCH prefer Sirus;well worth the $8/month or whatever I'm paying.
 

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In the longer view I wonder if Sirius and XM will thrive (or even survive) when faced with a world where most people have access to internet radio and smartphones that can integrate with their car audio systems.

From a technical perspective I believe internet radio is already better than Sirius/XM (at least, it is for me). The only barriers are consumer awareness and (in the case of streaming over 3G) bandwidth limits imposed by wireless providers.
 

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In the longer view I wonder if Sirius and XM will thrive (or even survive) when faced with a world where most people have access to internet radio and smartphones that can integrate with their car audio systems.
I think Sirius XM and Sirius Canada will survive but I don't see them thriving. Sirius Canada is probably making good money today while XM suffers. XM probably needs to get to 550 to 60000,000 self paying subs from 430,000 today to break even which is likely two to three years away at its current growth rate.

While internet radio, ipods and smartphones are really hurting them, the primary reasons whey I don't see them thriving is the terrible sound quality and limited song selection, common complaints among many ex satellite radio listeners.

I know I'm probably the minority but I'd gladly pay $20 a month for CD sound quality combined with a deeper song list and a 320kps stream for my Sonos music system. That way I could enjoy music at home and on the road
 

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What's the problem with XM?

Why does everyone crap on XM?? XM has not been a failure. All successful companies go through bumps along the way. XM is a public company so they have to post their results. You virtually hear nothing from Sirius. Are they financially sound? Are they following best business practices???

Sure Sirius might have more subscribers but not everyone wants Howard Stern. XM has lots of quality programming too. I would rather support a company that cares about quality than garbage programming like Sirius.

Just my opinion.
 

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I would rather support a company that cares about quality than garbage programming like Sirius.
Yeah those music channels on Sirius are so much different than those on XM.

All successful companies go through bumps along the way
Not sure how you define successful but XM has lost $360 million in five years and is still losing money. Sirius, its only competitor has 2.5x the number of subs. How do you define successful?
 

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Have sirius in my car and i absolutly love it. My dad has XM in his vehicle and i can honestly say the difference in quality is noticable within 10 min of driving. The amount of drop outs on XM is terrible.

The only real thing i wish sirius had was more of the sports packages. Altho in Canada you can get the nascar channel while you get indy car (hardly ever anything on it) with the XM package.

Just wish some more of the channels were avail for online streaming ( i know internet rights and such don't allow it) but its a good selection anyways.

If i had the choice again i'd still go with sirius despite the lack of additional sports channels.
 

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What is Sirius' advantage over XM?

I choose XM Canada because they offered a more comprehensive sports programming package (MLB and NHL) and better comedy channels.

Sirius has Howard Stern.
Call me Dorky, but for me the big thing is CBC Radio One. Satellite radio can't come close to being besting my iPod when it comes to music, so I'm interested in intelligent talk radio. To be able to drive eight hours in any direction and have CBC is important to me.

Stern is "ok", I enjoy Blue Collar radio, have no use for the endless loop that they use for music. Playboy is just horrible...sounds like a 70's softporn 8-track half the time.
 

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As I said, XM would be profitable at 550,000 or so subs and Sirius has been above that number for a long time. My guess is they are very profitable right now.
 

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I think another reason XM has failed to live up to expectations is that it is so easy to get a US account that offers substantially more programming than XM Canada. I don't know anyone with a US Sirius account, but I know about 10 people that have a US sub to xm.
 
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