Sirius-XM channel merge begins next week

There is no official word from the companies on what the new combined channel lineup will look like, but some leaked information has appeared in online forums.

Matt Rosoff
Matt Rosoff is an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, where he covers Microsoft's consumer products and corporate news. He's written about the technology industry since 1995, and reviewed the first Rio MP3 player for CNET.com in 1998. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network. Disclosure. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattrosoff.
Matt Rosoff
2 min read

I've expressed my lackluster opinion of satellite radio before, but it has a lot of passionate fans, particularly people who spend a lot of time in the car and enjoy hearing music, as well as news and sports.

The combination of Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio has more than 19 million paying customers and still expects subscriber growth, even in the worst economic climate in 80 years, though it's warned that the drop-off in car sales could hurt.

Sirius and XM combined operations in May, and according to Rolling Stone magazine, the two systems will begin merging their channels beginning Wednesday.

There's been no official word from the companies on what the new channel lineup will look like, but apparently, many music stations will be merged--there's no need for two stations featuring music from the 1950s, for example. Somebody on Saturday posted a purported lineup for existing XM subscribers on the Digital Radio Central forum. Take it with many grains of salt, though it apparently maps somewhat to an advertisement that appeared in USA Today.

There will also be new subscription offerings for each system--for example, XM subscribers can pay about $4 extra per month to get Sirius content like Howard Stern and the NFL.

Apparently, all existing XM radios will be able to get this Best of Sirius package, while only the recently released Sirius Starmate 5 will be able to get the comparable Best of XM package. The Starmate 5 will support a la carte options as well, letting users pick their favorite 50 or 100 stations for a lower monthly fee.

An aside: for XM fans who want a portable receiver, be sure to check out CNET's Friday review of the Pioneer Inno XMP3.