Monday, 12 April 2010


Will Satellite radio kill DAB in the UK? Had friends around Saturday and they had just been to the US and were raving about the car radio they had in their hire car. "It's called Sirius" they said, "And it's brilliant - why haven't we got anything like that here?"

A very good question but there are plans to have satellite radio in Europe by 2012 ONDAS is the name of the company planning to provide several hundred stations, some paid for by subscription and others free.  The technology already exists for receivers in cars at home and portables.  Most major car manufacturers in the US can fit Satellite radio as standard and deals have been signed by ONDAS with major car manufacturers in Europe, they have also signed a deal with RTL to provide programming.

So where does that leave DAB and its bolt on car radio adapter with sticky-back plastic aerial? I remember when SKY started broadcasting many industry leaders were laughing at their huge losses and saying that Satellite TV in the UK was doomed.  (Sky now has a turnover of over £5,359 million and 16,000 employees) It will be interesting to see if there is consumer demand for Sat Radio in the UK?

About Sirius in the US - Sirius Satellite Radio delivers more than 130 channels of music and programming via crystal clear direct satellite feed. In addition to 69 channels of commercial free music listening, Sirius also delivers 65 channels of sports, news, talk, entertainment, traffic, and weather forecasts. Sirius--the official satellite radio partner of the NFL, NASCAR, and NBA--broadcasts live play-by-play games of the NFL and NBA, as well as live NASCAR races. All Sirius programming is available for a monthly subscription fee. (Pictured above is the sexy Serius docking radio which can work as a portable or car radio click here for more

1 comment:

Paul Easton said...

Satellite TV (aka Sky) has the advantage of being able to use sport (especially football) and movies as 'drivers' to get people to subscribe. These were assisted by "giving away" (and clawing it back later through increased subs) the dishes and set top boxes.

Satellite radio in the States - the two rivals XM and Sirius have already merged - has become popular because it offers a wide choice of programming and stations which are not available to those outside the major cities, and the programming itself doesn't have the 16-20 minutes an hour of commercials that seem to be the norm in the States. The service is also available just about everywhere across the USA so you don't need to tune from one local station to another while driving.

Satellite radio over here would have similar advantages to the States in terms of the range of content but with the growing popularity of the iPod, phone apps and wifi radio etc. would need to provide strong 'drivers' in terms of unique, premium, content in order to attract potential subscribers. e.g. if you could outbid the BBC and commercial radio (as well as TalkSport, Absolute Radio will have live commentaries from next season) for premiership football rights etc.... See more

There's also a side-topic here as to whether DAB missed a trick by not considering some form of conditional access system to enable premium content to be available to paying subscribers.

We do, of course, already have a form of satellite radio in the UK/Europe via Music Choice - I was their head of programming for 6 years (1994-2000) - but as you're only able to hear it via satellite/cable TV I agree it's a very different animal to the offering from Sirius and it has not been as big a success as was originally hoped - mainly overtaken by other developments such as the iPod and internet streaming (which Music Choice doesn't seem to offer - but I suspect that is a licensing matter).

Sorry this has turned out to be more of an essay than a comment but it's an interesting topic.