XM and Sirius are dangling a new carrot in front of the Federal Communications Commission in order to get the green light to merge. The satellite radio companies say they will offer a la carte packages of their lineups if the antitrust regulators look the other way.
Okay, so maybe it will be a monopoly — but damned if they aren't trying to make that bitter little economic pill easier to swallow. Maybe even enough to rationalize a Hotelling's law kind of scenario.
The proposed plan comes in a couple of flavors:
- A La Carte Option 1: $7/month for 50 channels. Customers will be able to choose from XM or Sirius channels exclusively, with the exception of "premium" channels. Additional channels can be purchased for 25 cents each per month. "Premium" channels are available for $3 or $6 each per month. The maximum charge will be $12.95 per month. This option is only available for subscribers using next generation receivers who select channels via the internet.
- A La Carte Option 2: $15/month for 100 channels from either XM or Sirius. Choices on the other network, however, are limited to "the best of" channels. This option is also only available for next generation receivers.
- XM Everything: $13/month for approximately 170 XM channels.
- XM Everything & Select Sirius: $17/month. All XM stations and a few Sirius ones thrown in. Customers can use current equipment.
- Everything Sirius & Select XM: $17/month. All Sirius stations and a few from XM. Customers can use current equipment.
The companies also proposed a "Mostly Music" package that contains approximately 65 music stations (plus one religious station and one emergency and weather station) for $10/month. Also proposed; a "News, Sports & Talk" option that contains 60 stations of...well... Both options will be available to customers using current equipment as well.
On Tuesday, XM and Sirius will file their joint reply comments with the FCC which will include the new pricing plan. Many in the government have been sweet on a la carte pricing for media providers, and such a move may finally tip them in merger's favor. ®