Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Digital Dogma Divide

A lot of virtual ink continues to be spilled about the merger of XM Satellite Radio and SIRIUS Satellite Radio. As the commentary flies fast and furious, I'm taking a step back and looking at the subtext of the discussion -- particularly as it applies to satellite radio vs. HD Radio.

In the comment fields for reviews about satellite radio products, HD Radio tuners, op-ed pieces about radio and so on, the same arguments roll back and forth again and again. Satellite radio supporters talk about the richness of the content, and the (for the most part) lack of commercials. HD Radio supporters talk about how over-the-air broadcasts are free, and the presence of commericals on some satellite radio channels.

It's not really a conversation, as neither side engages the other. Not surprising, as they're talking at cross purposes. For some folks, content is important -- important enough to pay for. For others, content isn't important at all -- nice if its there, not really missed if it isn't.

Some gladly pay extra for HBO and Showtime because they believe the original programs ("Sopranos," "Deadwood," etc.) are worth the cost. Other are quite happy with the basic channels -- what programs they actually watch don't matter as much.

The same is true with music. I'm passionate about classical music, and really relish works that require active listening. Many prefer their classical music to sit politely in the corner and sounds pretty -- like Muzak. Books, movies, plays, art -- there's always a divide between those who consider them important, and those who don't.

If you consider content important enough to pay for, then settling for poor selection isn't an option. If you're indifferent to the content, then paying extra for it makes little sense.

XM/Sirius vs. HD Radio. The argument rages on, with both sides citing features that are valueless to the other, the underlying premises remaining unarticulated.

- Ralph


  1. Anonymous1:42 PM

    "In-Stat: Digital Radio Set to Take Off"

    "In 2006, 73 percent of respondents to an In-Stat U.S. consumer survey were aware of HD Radio on some level."

    "Sirius, XM, and HD: Consumer interest reality check" (Alexaholic)

    "While interest in satellite radio is diminishing, interest in HD shows no signs of a pulse."

    This just confirms, the lack of interest for HD Radio, on Google Trends:

    HD Radio/IBOC is dead.

  2. I found this of interest as well:

    "Most everyone I spoke with about HD Radio at RAB 2007 admitted privately that it was the wrong road. That's a problem because the radio industry chief executives obviously disagree. If radio keeps putting its faith behind HD, bludgeoning the public with ads that sell a "discover it" approach, five years from now we'll all be asking "why?""