Sirius XM Rolls Out iPhone App, But No Stern or NFL on the Go

You won't catch Howard Stern on Sirius XM's new app for the iPhone.
You won't catch Howard Stern on Sirius XM's new app for the iPhone. (By Daniel Acker -- Bloomberg News)
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By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 19, 2009

Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart fans got a tiny bit of good news yesterday. Sports followers and Howard Stern listeners, not so much.

Sirius XM Radio rolled out a new software application, giving subscribers the ability to tune in to 120 of the satellite radio service's stations via an iPhone or iPod Touch.

However, some early takers were annoyed to find that several of Sirius XM's biggest draws -- channels devoted to baseball, football and Stern -- are not available.

"Laughable and pathetic," grumbled one Stern fan, in a typical complaint, posting on the iPod discussion site "It's almost like Sirius is trying to fail."

A spokesman for Sirius XM declined to elaborate on the omissions, but this is not the first time stations have not been available on the company's Internet streams. In some cases, Sirius XM doesn't own the rights to stream its standard content on the Web. And when the New York-based Sirius merged with XM Satellite Radio of the District last July, some programming unique to each provider was not readily accessible.

Satellite radio has faced a slowdown in sales in the past year as consumers hold off on buying new cars and after major electronics retailer Circuit City went out of business. Analysts who follow Sirius XM rated the new iPhone software, which requires a paid subscription, as mildly positive for the company.

"I don't think it's a game-changer in the sense that it will drive mass subscriptions, but it's good for them to be there," said James Goss, a media and entertainment analyst with Barrington Research Associates. "They might generate extra subscriptions."

The company's stock, which had been trading around 35 cents, opened at 42 cents yesterday but ended the day at 34 cents.

With its entry into the iPhone "App" space, the company will be competing for attention against popular free services such as Pandora and Slacker.

Although the download is free, only Sirius XM subscribers are able to use the application. Owners of Sirius XM radio devices typically pay about $13 per month; to listen via the Internet, or through the new iPhone software, listeners pay an additional $3 a month.

Sirius XM, which has about 20 million subscribers, recently announced that it will raise its subscription rates, since its royalty dues have increased. Beginning in August, users will have to pay an additional $1.98 a month.

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