Often when Music Ally has written about US satellite-radio firm SiriusXM in the past, we’ve focused more on its subsidiary Pandora. Streaming was more our area than radio, after all. Yet the boundaries between these two mediums (and industries) continue to blur, and SiriusXM is at the sharp end of that trend.
That’s why its plans to launch what the company is describing as its “next generation platform” are of great interest. “We made significant advancements this quarter in building our next generation platform and are excited to announce a preview event to come this fall,” said CEO Jennifer Wirtz in her statement accompanying SiriusXM’s latest quarterly financial results.
For now, details of the new platform are basically buzzwords, with SiriusXM promising that it will “improve discoverability, personalisation, and the user experience for seamless ease of use and enhanced engagement across multiple devices platforms”.
In the company’s earnings call, Wirtz noted that the plans are particularly focused on “younger audience segments” and will involve “even greater connection between experiences in car and on streaming devices”. Work is also afoot on “evaluating our content packages and pricing with an expectation that we can better appeal to each of our target segments”.
Satellite radio is still a good business for SiriusXM: $1.7bn of revenues in the second quarter of 2023, with a gross profit of $1bn, fuelled by 34 million total subscribers. However, those revenues and subscriber numbers were flat in terms of year-on-year growth, and SiriusXM clearly sees younger music-streaming listeners as key to reigniting its growth in the future.
The company has faced challenges with its existing streaming business. Pandora’s listeners have been falling for a long time now, with the 47.4 million monthly active listeners in Q2 down from 50.5 million a year ago.
Pandora is still a popular service – the premium-only Apple Music and Amazon Music had 32.6 million and 29.3 million US subscribers respectively in February this year. But in the competition for ‘younger audience segments’, Pandora has yet to prove it is markedly more appealing for this demographic than those services, Spotify and YouTube.
That’s why SiriusXM’s plans for its next-generation platform will be interesting to watch. Is there a magic formula blending traditional broadcast radio with streaming that can better compete against the streaming giants? Especially as – from Apple Music’s live stations to Spotify’s AI DJ – they are also intent on blurring these boundaries to widen their appeal.