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RIP: Satellite Radio 1997-2007

Remembered for its once youthful promise of delivering a wide variety of content to listeners coast-to-coast; for its sales pitch of over 100 channels; music for and from every generation; for its false promises of “commercial free radio” (19 public service announcements an hour don’t count as commercial free); and its promise of providing a venue free of the traditional regulations and limits that accompany traditional broadcast media.

Satellite Radio leaves behind some 15-million subscribers, an untold number of discouraged employees, and the dream of a modern rebirth for radio.

Cause of Death:
Satellite Radio suffered a final blow when it conformed and succumb to pressure to regulate its own content, which resulted in censoring its own jocks. The deathward spiral for Satellite is not expected to be immediate but it is expected to push Satellite in the direction of becoming a collection of boring, unoriginal, and bland channels programmed toward the lowest common denominator.

The Analysis:
With satellite and traditional radio under such scrutiny, other new media outlets are bound to grow and develop. Perhaps with new tools and delivery mechanisms such as iPods and Podcasting, niche content will start to become available either via ad-supported mechanisms, or with a subscription model through private websites, iTunes, and the many other content distributors that are available today.

Since the development of Satellite, the environment has changed dramatically and today’s audiences are increasingly technically educated and savvy, which will allow listeners in their own homes (and more and more in their hand via the evolving cell phone) to tap into any number of content options and delivery mechanisms. With the evolution of these tools, coupled with the failure of Satellite and traditional media outlets content creators and audiences will increasingly look toward new technologies to disseminate creative content.

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