On June 18, Sirius XM finally launched its highly anticipated application for iPhone and iPod touch devices. The company originally promised to release the app, which provides access to 120 channels of satellite radio programming, in the second quarter.
For months now, analysts have warned that the app could impact Sirius’s prospects big time. The app, which is free to subscribers to Sirius’s cheaper online streaming service, will cannibalize Sirius’s existing, in-car-listening subscriber base, some have said. Others argued that lots of international users, who couldn’t get the service before, will sign up for it now to listen to talk show host Howard Stern and other stars. Well, I predict that neither is going to happen.
Here’s the simple reason: Some select programming, including MLB Play-by-Play, NFL Play-by-Play, SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, and Howard Stern, will not be available on the iPhone and iPod touch.
Here’s what this means: The app isn’t likely to appeal to many existing Sirius XM subscribers, many of whom have signed up for the service specifically to be able to listen to Howard Stern. Analysts have hoped that the app would help Sirius XM reduce its churn, and keep its subscribers using its service longer.
Without the exclusive content, the Sirius XM app becomes just another iPhone radio app, competing with those from Clear Channel and Pandora, which already have millions of listeners. That said, the app will offer a few very cool features: It will allow users to purchase a song heard on SIRIUS XM while it is being played or to tag it for later purchase from iTunes, for example. Still, I doubt a lot of people will be signing up for the service to get the feature.
Was excluding Howard Stern and other exclusive content a smart move for Sirius? What’s your take?