The State of Satellite Radio in Canada

The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business has this feature on the Canadian operations of SiriusXM.

Even in the doldrums of late summer, the New York City headquarters ofSirius XM Radio Inc., the centre of satellite radio, is a buzzing hive of celebrity activity. On a recent August morning, former White House press secretary Dana Perino arrives for an exclusive on-air interview in front of two dozen subscribers invited to watch live. She bumps into Joel Madden, front man for punk band Good Charlotte, as Mississippi rap group Rae Sremmurd mugs for photos across the lobby.

The following week at Sirius XM Canada, the company’s separately owned northern cousin, the office is quieter. But on any given day, a steady march of personalities from Conrad Black to Ziggy Marley arrive at its Toronto studios for live, exclusive chats, supplying the lifeblood of the Sirius XM schedules.

Satellite radio is facing fast-growing competition from online streaming services, some of which are free to use. The expectation that WiFi-enabled cars will be widely available within years only amplifies the challenge to satellite stations, which still count drivers as their core audience. Combined, these two new forces form “a real competitive threat” to the medium, wrote Haran Posner, an analyst at RBC Dominion Securities Inc., in a recent research note.

But so far, satellite radio is holding its ground, with exclusive content, unavailable for free over the traditional airways or the Internet, as its main bulwark.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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