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Sirius XM Launches iPhone App -- Without Howard Stern

Posted by: Olga Kharif on June 18, 2009

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?

Reader Comments

Ben Blackford

June 18, 2009 12:58 PM

Can you get 197 (XM 202) on it? The Virus isn't for everyone but it is worth checking out for displaced Stern fans. They usually don't have as much of a maniacal clutch over their intellectual property as Stern.


June 18, 2009 1:55 PM

I canceled my service today because of this.


June 18, 2009 5:01 PM

This is absolutely unbelievable...I only listen to Sirius for the Howard Stern show. The anticipation and now the let down of the iPhone app is a disaster for Sirius.


June 18, 2009 5:01 PM

I can not think of a bigger blunder than the release of this app. I paid a THIRD party to listen to stern on my iphone, so now I don't need to pay the monthly internet fee to Sirius, money they will likely lose from many customers. Those that don't cancel, that is.

A HUGE mis-step.....


June 18, 2009 6:47 PM

Stern for the last 60 days talked up a storm about this app. Now he bails out all in the name of the green back. hey Stern are you really going to go broke by letting 100 & 101 be part of the app.? I'm done with all the Sirius XM Bull I rather spend the 300 a year on something else. Thanks for nothing Stern.

Ted's Satellite Emporium

June 18, 2009 6:49 PM

I would sign up for this service BECAUSE Howard isn't on the service.

His show has become as thought provoking as wet flatulence.


June 18, 2009 7:43 PM

I don't understand this. Howard Stern's show is available as a podcast.


June 19, 2009 2:49 AM

What??? Howard Stern and some NFL and MLB and NASCAR programming are not included? So what? Try focusing on the wide variety of cataloged, easily accessible radio programming that is included to be fair to readers. Business Week should take care to protect its credibility by not echoing some sources that make unqualified subjective comments to demoralize investors. Instead, question the motives behind bad press and blog posts. Stern is overrated and is due for a haircut, contractually speaking. Not everyone is gaga over football and baseball and the sports' overpaid athletes at a time when too many Americans that do real work are hurting socio-economically. And NASCAR and its good ole boy culture? The race car drivers should be in hybrids getting 50mpg instead of blowing fuel in high-horsepower machines like it was free. Sirius XM offers, as the company accurately says, "the best radio on radio"--and now also through the global "network of networks" thanks to Apple's iPhone, which massively dominates gadgets of its type on the market. Beware naysayers in the media, many of whom are anti satellite radio for reasons having to do with traditional radio business and investment interests, and also take a jaundiced view toward blog posters that put the company down, because they may be shorting the stock (SIRI) and only stand to gain when Sirius XM gets bad press, bad opinions by financial analysts that are negatively influenced or biased, and gets negatively affected by long suspected stock manipulation. Certain near-mainstream websites and popular blogs on the Web, and a few influencial television personalities in the financial media also appear to be sided with the traditional advertising based radio industry. Sticking to its successful subscription based business model, Sirius XM has had the deck stacked against it but continues to avoid bankruptcy, continues to be listed on the NASDAQ (thanks to some appropriate relief), continues to dominate as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in autos (and just got a sweet deal with Toyota), continues to deliver on promised merger synergies (efficiencies, functional de-duplication, savings, and the like), continues to improve its financial fundamentals and is approaching free cash flow, and generally continues to show its mettle as a going business through extended recessionary times. I put my money where my mouth is, and that is on a company that, unforeseen risks notwithstandng, has nowhere to go but "with the wind" as the economy slowly recovers. If Business Week really want to publish a story that provides a service, go investigate why the company has been held down since Sirius and XM merged. Look at the powerful Wall Street forces that have allegedly purposely hurt the stock for financial gain. The Sirius XM iPhone application is just one more step in the right direction for the company, one that provides entree to many, many, many millions of prospective new subscribers--much to the understandable chagrin of competitors that have tremendously less to offer listeners (in between nausiating commercial advertising, that is.)


June 19, 2009 5:20 AM

I can't belive you guys! I get the IPhone app. It is great. I will keep enjoyng Stern while driving and all the rest while walking!
I feel I have something more now no something less.


June 19, 2009 6:20 AM

What a shame -- a worthless app. Unfortunately I agree that Howard is deteriorating along with Sirius. Artie is just awful. Time to cancel the whole thing -- sad.


June 19, 2009 10:06 AM

I couldn't wait for this to come out so I could leave my car radio at home. Stern is the only thing I listen to on Sirius. I am really thinking about just dropping Sirius and going with Slacker. At least with Slacker the music is free and you can skip songs. Bad move Sirius.


June 19, 2009 11:38 AM

Just A Thought-
Perhaps Stern is the only smart one, once again, being an amazing business man. He conquered every media he has ever been a part of, from books, radio, tv, etc. Who's to say he won't actually create an app just for his show? A specific "Howard Stern App"? He has the backing, talent, mindset, and fanbase...what could stop him?


June 19, 2009 12:56 PM

I dropped Sirius due to the sh****ness of their hardware. I went through 2 radio units in a year and a half. One of them started acting funky after a month of use. Sirius would do themselves a huge favor by catering to the early adopters of their service who often bring in other customers. I got the service primarily to listen to Howard and even HIS show got old quick (sal & richard 'pranks', etc)

Derek Friday

June 19, 2009 1:40 PM

I love the app and still use it commuting on my scooter to work, but I will say I'm blown away by the lack of Stern. He has, for months now, plugged the app so I was quite surprised not to find it as a part of the entire application.



June 19, 2009 6:39 PM

As both a shareholder and long time Stern fan, I am totally p*ssed off.

Not only is there no Stern on the iPhone app, but it also doesn't allow people from other countries to download and use the app (it's only available in the US appstore).

Mel and crew have dropped the ball big time on this. Didn't they do any consumer polls to see what content is important for them?

By just giving people mostly music and content thats already available elsewhere, I seriously doubt that many will shell out the extra $3 or $16 per month for the iPhone app. And to not allow the app to run worldwide is completely asinine.


June 20, 2009 12:10 PM

I'm getting the app only if Howard's show gets added to the channel line up. I work outside eight hours a day and I when thought two Sirius Stelitto's in the last three years. And yes, I just got my third one yesterday. All this is to listen to the Stern Show. Podcasting would be a good idea right after the show is done for the day and then file could autodelete it self after a week in your iPod. Charge for the podcast just like you would for your sat radio sub. Make it available for a price and people will buy it.

Thank you.


June 20, 2009 3:06 PM

When Sirius and XM merged, I was happy, because I thought I would be able to get MLB. But, the best of XM package is not available on my $1800 in-dash receiver that came with my car. SiriusXM and Apple squashed another app (which was beta tested and reccomended by Ralph on the air on the Stern show) in favor of delivering an app that does not even deliver the four things most subscribers purchase the service for - Stern, NFL, MLB, and NASCAR. I can get quality music on other free services on my iPod, or just listen to my iTunes library. I don't need an app (that I need to pay an extra $3 a month to use) to not get the things that I subscribe to the service to get in the first place. All the time and money that was sunk into the development of this crippled application was a waste and another reason why SiriusXM will be out of business soon (like right after Stern retires). Glad I never went for that lifetime subscription.


June 21, 2009 4:40 PM

I am so upset Howard stern is not on my IPHONE!!! I have been waiting for this like a kid at christmas... and now its a big let down!! i have 4 supscriptions just to lesten to howard and now i can't on my phone.. this sucks

Hank The Angry Average Height Guy

June 22, 2009 9:11 AM

This is one more reason that Howard can no longer call himself "The King of All Media." He has yet to embrace the online/digital outlets that are not even cutting edge anymore. Why does he not sell podcasts of the show? Why doesn't his site have clips? Why can't i subscribe to HowardTV online? I assume he had a lot to do with this decision to keep his programming off the iPhone app. As such a high paid person at the fledgling company, he has a fair share of clout no matter his ratings. This seems to be a lame attempt to lock in subscribers. When will he understand the modern day "long tail" digital business model?


June 23, 2009 12:42 PM

Lame! Lame! Lame! Was waiting for the app specifically for Howard. Very dissapointing. On the upside I can still get it online for the 2 bucks a month. Howard making his own app would be ideal.


June 25, 2009 2:27 PM

Sirius/XM app without Stern is just a waste of time and money. I downloaded the app as soon as I saw it was available (despite the two-star rating). I should have read the reviews that pointed out there was no Howard and saved myself time and $2.99 - which I promptly cancelled after I couldn't find the Stern show -- totally crappy app.
Why pay more for a service you could have for free with I Heart Radio or Pandora??? For Howard Stern that's why!!!


July 2, 2009 9:19 PM

Download the Pocket Tunes app and you are able to listen to Stern from there. Its 9.99 tho. Also you can set up an MyOrb account from home, download uSirius and record the stern show and download the Free Version of Orb from the iphone and listen to the recorded show.

Sirius really pissed me the fuck off not adding Stern to the app knowing damn well he is the only reason the company still exist!


July 7, 2009 11:21 AM

How greedy can you be Stern? I will cancel my subscription because of this.

I'm also canceling my subscription because the Stern Show has more vacation days than works days... so what the hell am I paying for? Who wants to listen to more "best of Stern"?


August 18, 2009 10:23 AM

I signed up just for howard stern it sucks without it because pandora is free and there isn't much difference between the two anything music wise you can get on demand with pandora having the talk radio and sport channels would set it apart from the free Internet radio stations


August 19, 2009 5:17 AM

I should have read the reviews and found out the stern show is not included in this $3 a month add on. Either fix this mistake now or I will be cancelling before months end. What a joke! Without Howard Stern, you guys really offer nothing that you can't get on free internet radio.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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