"If the two leaders in satellite television were denied their shot, what makes anyone think that the only two players in satellite radio will get a chance to snuggle?"
-- Rick Munarriz, five minutes ago

That would be a great argument if it were relevant. Here's why it isn't:

2002: Satellite TV vs. Cable TV




Net subscribers

18 million

70 million

Portion of total



Source: Press reports.

2007: Satellite Radio vs. Web and Terrestrial Radio





Net listeners

14 million

65 million

228 million

Portion of total




Source: Press reports.

EchoStar (NASDAQ:DISH) doesn't resemble Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI), and DirecTV (NYSE:DTV) doesn't resemble XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR). Comparing the quartet is like comparing kumquats to spaceships. Wrong galaxy, Rick.

Howard and Oprah should get hitched
And who says that subscribers wouldn't pay to get both Stern and Oprah? Well, OK, bad example. How about Stern and Opie & Anthony?

You get my point. Content is the allure of satellite radio. This merger is appealing because it would end the over-the-top spending required to attract, and retain, talent.

But even if cross-platform subscribers are few, there's a powerful incentive for both Sirius and XM to make it easier for a listener to get started. Common equipment would achieve that.

What's more, a common receiver could probably be made to stream Sirius and XM when WiMax technology goes live across the country. Without that, drivers would be more likely to forgo $13 a month for satrad and keep to AM, FM, and a streaming stub for other programming when they're in range of a WiMax tower.

Rick's right; Sirius and XM have been treading water in the ocean. But they haven't embraced. They've simply decided to climb aboard the Good Ship Merger. That should be more than enough to keep the pair afloat for years -- unless, that is, the feds decide to torpedo the raft. I, for one, hope they don't.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers, ranked 775 out of more than 23,500 in our CAPS investor-intelligence database, likes his radio streamed, not downloaded. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. All of Tim's portfolio holdings can be found at his Fool profile. His thoughts on growth stocks, Foolishness, and investing in general may be found in his blog. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy tunes in accountability.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.