Sirius XM Rocks Harder Than You Think

The satellite radio giant unleashes a new limited-run channel -- with new perks.

Rick Munarriz
Rick Munarriz
Apr 12, 2011 at 12:00AM
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Metallica fans will want to keep their Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) receiver close for a heavy metal fix -- until it sleeps.

"Metallica Presents: Big 4 Radio" will launch on Sirius channel 27 and XM channel 42 Saturday, showcasing the works of Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer for two weeks. The commercial-free programming ties in to the Big 4 Festival in California where the four iconic rock bands will perform together in the United States for the first time.

Anyone following Sirius XM over the years knows that these limited-run stations come and go. They're promotional bursts of programming that remind subscribers that satellite radio can be nimble and immersive.

However, there are a few interesting tweaks this time. The channel will have two weeks on receivers, but it will be closer to a four-week run for those streaming on the Internet or through Sirius XM apps for Web-tethered Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM), and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android devices. Come May 8, these same streaming channels will get a 24/7 "Mandatory Metallica" channel for an extended period of time.

Can your in-dash Sirius or XM receiver do that?

Sirius XM sells smartphone and online streaming as a stand-alone subscription. Receiver-based accounts can pay $2.99 a month more for access. Giving these limited-run bursts of programming longer runs in cyberspace -- where Sirius XM doesn't have to balance selection with compression -- seems like a great way to sell more Internet access.

It may not be much of a sell at $12.95 a month as a stand-alone offering, but it's a brilliant tactical move as a monthly $2.99 upgrade for current subscribers on receiver-based plans. After all, they'll be the ones being told by the end of this month that the Metallica party continues beyond their dashboards.

Well played, Sirius XM. You're the master of puppets, indeed.

What should Sirius XM do to increase streaming accounts? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.


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