Why I Didn’t Renew My Sirius-XM

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My Sirius-XM contract came up for renewal last month and I decided to let it lapse.

Reason?

Some of the content is really good (I’m a longtime and big-time fan of Howard Stern’s) but I’m also really tired of paying to hear commercials. Endless, super-annoying commercials. Buy Gold! Do You Need Mortgage Relief?  

Arggh! 

On some of the Sirius-XM talk channels, commercials are 40-50 percent of the “content.” For example, Glenn Beck. I don’t like Glenn Bleck but sometimes I listen to the channel he’s on because I just like talk shows. But if the guy isn’t pushing his “sponsor this hour,” then he’s taken another 5-10 minute “break” so that the sponsor can directly push whatever the product is.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with advertising your product. What has been eating at me for years now and finally caused me to say the Hell with it is this business of paying to be spoon-fed ads.

In other contexts, where you’re viewing or hearing a program for free, I understand that having ads in the mix is a necessary – and absolutely justifiable – thing. It is how the station (or Internet site, like Hulu.com) makes money. Since you’re not paying to view or hear the program, the ads are there so that the provider of the program is able to make ends meet and – hopefully – make a profit.

It’s a fair exchange. I’m fine with it when it comes to rabbit ears TV, say – or “free” radio. Online stuff, too.

But there is something sketchy about paying a monthly fee to receive content – ostensibly – but which in reality is at least a third to half commercials.

They’re double dipping, as far as I’m concerned. And it makes me mad. Mad enough to drop my subscription, much as I will miss Howard’s show.  

Yes, I know. Sirius-XM has “commercial free” channels. But they are all music channels. Some of them are very good, but let’s face it, it’s 2011, and we have things such as MP3 players and (in our cars) music storage hard drives that can catalog an entire library of your own personally chosen selections. I bought Sirius-XM for just one reason – to hear the talk programs like Howard’s show. I bet many other people did, too – and are getting tired of  all the god-damned commercials.  

Sirius-XM as it is currently set up works just like cable TV – which I’m also getting sick of, for exactly the same reason.

If I am paying $70 a month, I don’t want to have to hit the mute button or change channels every eight minutes or so in order to avoid being force-fed loud, overlong (and lately) belligerently repetitive commercial dreck.

I got that with free TV; now I’m paying to get it?

I think maybe this is why Sirius-XM hasn’t been as successful as everyone hoped – Howard Stern included.

Howard, to his credit, does a much better job keeping the dreck in check. And – I hope I am not giving away something here – he provides a way to escape commercials almost entirely by dint of his two channels (Sirius 100 and 101), which makes it possible to toggle between the two. When a batch of ads erupts on 100, go to 101 and – usually – you can pick up another Stern segment and dodge the advertising juggernaut.

Still, it’s annoying that you even have to do such things given you’re paying to hear the stuff in the first place.

No doubt the people in charge figure having the ads helps keep the monthly subscription fees in check. But I’d really like to know the breakdown: How much more would it cost per month to have really commercial-free satellite radio? Let’s say double the current charge. That would mean an uptick to about $25 per month. It’s not that much – cheap, frankly, to never have to hear another blankety-blank ad again. 

Has anyone over there – in management – looked into it?

My informal survey – talking to friends and family members who are satellite radio subscribers – indicates that there are a lot of people who would happily pay more to never, ever again have to hear about Gold Bond Powder, Debt Relief Now! or natural male enhancement products.

I believe this might save Sirius-XM or at least, jump-start it. Imagine being able to listen to your favorite shows without also having to listen to pushy pitchmen hawking products you’ve got about as much interest in as Liberace had in Hustler magazine.  

Is anyone over there listening?

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8 COMMENTS

  1. I find it interesting how today’s younger society believes that everything should be handed to them and be free.
    Years ago, we did not have all the variety of television, cable, satellite, and internet we have today. The few channels we had we paid by commecials.
    Now today when we can watch and listen to everything we want from around the world, all you kiddies out there think it all should be free?
    Where do you think all these shows and music and videos come from? Out of thin air? It costs money to create and put these forms of media out to the public.
    So for a measly few dollars a month for tons and tons of media..why are you all anal about a couple commercials? Grow up.

    • Hi AS,

      I don’t expect the SiriusXM content to be free – and that’s just the point! I’m paying a monthly fee to hear the content, not the commercials. I have no issue with commercials on “free” TV or radio. That’s how they pay for the content – and it’s entirely legitimate.

      But why should we have to pay to hear commercials? On some Sirius/XM channels, the “content” is literally 40-50 percent commercials. For me, it means that as often as not (depending on when I tune in) I get to listen to mostly… commercials. And that’s why I canceled. I love the concept of satellite radio – especially that it’s not censored. But I’d happily pay a few bucks more to just get content – and skip the endless, pushy, obnoxious commercials. Isn’t there enough of that around?

  2. You paid $70 a month? I pay XM about $6 a month, and I mostly listen to the commercial-free (though not bias-free) BBC. My sub doesn’t include Stern.

  3. I feel ya! Since I let my subscription drop, I have been getting at least one robo-call every day. It’s super pushy. And a real turnoff. I miss some of the programming, but the commercials just drove me nuts. Also, the reception is frequently spotty in my area (mountainous) and it typically cuts out just when I’m interested in something – and then comes on again just in time for another commercial….

  4. I totally agree with you. I have 2 vehicles on XM and I dropped one recently, due to a car sale. After numerous calls to them to have me taken off their speed dial in the Marketing Dept. I still get 2 calls a day – and they don’t bother to leave a message, and when I answer, they just hang up. Either computer generated or some disgruntled employee who’s no longer getting that radio commission, I don’t know. But I’m so close to dropping the other radio too.

    • I got a free subscription with the purchase of a new car and enjoyed the service while it lasted. I ultimately chose not to renew because of the lame ass calls from pushy sales reps trying to make the hard sell, “Last Chance” “Special discount”, etc. I will never pay for the service again because of this terrible crap.

      • Yup – same here.

        It’s also ridiculous that if you get Sirius, you don’t get XM – and vice versa. It’s (allegedly) one company, but has two separate programming arms. Add the 40-50 percent commercial content… the pushy sales pitches… and it’s time to throw it in the woods!

  5. I totally agree with some of what you said. I do have a lifetime subscription to Sirius radio and I would not be without it. If I made minimum wage I probably would not have paid for it. And how about all those adds on web pages and magazines? Maybe we can get rid of those also.

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