Sirius vs. XM

Comparing Satellite Radio Services

Though the two systems are under one corporate entity, Sirius XM Radio has yet to overcome some technical hurdles that would permit them to offer one radio that receives a signal from both systems. For now, subscribers must still choose which package best suits them. So which is better -- Sirius or XM? They both have a similar range of music, news and entertainment programming. Sirius has Howard Stern to bring his raunchy brand of entertainment on board, and its other hosts and celebrities tend to be more polarizing and potentially offensive to listeners, too. Originally, XM had the only personal listening device, but Sirius currently offers portable radios as well. XM is still the clear market leader when it comes to subscribers, but Sirius has invested some significant cash to improve its offerings in order to entice more listeners. In fact, Sirius has continually added subscribers for several years, while XM's customer base has grown at a slower rate. This table shows how the two formats stack up.

Sirius vs. XM

Satellites 3 satellites 2 satellites
Programming 130+ channels, including:
  • 69 commercial-free music channels
  • 18 news and talk channels
  • 11 entertainment channels
  • 11 local traffic and weather channels
  • NFL football, college sports, NBA basketball, soccer, horse racing, golf and NASCAR
170+ channels, including:
  • 70 commercial-free music channels
  • 92 news, sports, talk and entertainment channels
  • 21 traffic and weather channels
  • Major League Baseball , NBA basketball, NHL hockey, college sports, golf and IndyCar
Highlights Howard Stern
Martha Stewart
A weekly rock show with skateboarder Tony Hawk
NBA and NFL games
Three video channels
Listen on the Internet for free
Bob Dylan
Oprah Winfrey
Opie & Anthony
Shows hosted by Snoop Dogg, Tom Petty and Quincy Jones
FOX sports radio

Price $12.95 per month ($16.99, including the Best of XM)
$15 activation fee over the phone; $10 online
$12.95 per month for basic package ($16.99 including the Best of Sirius)
$14.99 ($9.99 online) activation fee
Availability The continental United States and Canada
The continental United States and Canada
Subscribers 8+ million in 2008 9+ million in 2008
Already Installed Available installed in many cars, including Chrysler, BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Volkswagen and Ford cars Available installed in a variety of cars, including Audi, GM, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Toyota and Porsche models

With the merger, however, it may no longer be a question of which service is better. Both XM and Sirius offer "best of" packages that bundle their regular service with a small handful of popular programs from the other's selection, and both will be required to roll out à la carte options that let customers choose from both company's lists.