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'Radio Sex': Is Sirius XM getting desperate?
The satellite radio giant is rolling out a new channel. And its lack of subtlety may be a turn-off
Face the music… sex sells.
Face the music… sex sells. ThinkStock/Brand X Pictures
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atellite radio network Sirius XM announced an eyebrow-raising addition to its lineup on Monday: Radio Sex. According to the press release, "the 24/7 channel features uncensored, explicit adult entertainment — live, call-in shows and storytelling hosted by some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as a variety of weekly shows taking listeners deeper into the world of adult entertainment than they have ever been before." This is mostly a rebranding of Sirius' Spice channel, "lest it be confused with a channel devoted to paprika or basil," I guess, says Lauren Ashburn at Daily Download. But seriously, Radio Sex? "How many network executives and marketing geniuses do you think it took to come up with that name?"

Let's face it, much of the media use sex to sell something, but at least they dress it up with some lace or bows or a little faux sociology. This is just the unvarnished version. [Daily Download]

The new channel doesn't involve shock jock Howard Stern, one of the marquee names at Sirius XM, instead boasting such (apparent) programming favorites as You Porn and Strippertown, plus a new show, Naughty Gamers, that promises an exploration of "the sexy side of adult video gaming," featuring two porn stars. But is such an unsubtle rebranding the sign of a network in good financial health?

Sirius XM may have been desperate in recent years and months — its stock dropped to a nickel per share four years ago and vultures "circled around a seemingly lifeless body of a satellite radio franchise that was running out of time and could not pay its debts," says Richard Saintvilus at Forbes — but more recently, things have been looking up. For instance, last Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission approved a request by media giant Liberty Media to acquire a majority stake in Sirius XM, breathing new life into the satellite radio monopoly and sending its stock soaring.  

Now, "Sirius XM is at its highest level in 58 months," says Rick Aristotle Munarriz at The Motley Fool. But the future is clouded by the uncertain terrain of online radio streaming, a market dominated by Pandora and Spotify, with Apple waiting in the wings readying its own "Pandora killer" service. Sirius XM "promises to be a big player" in personalized streaming radio this year, too, and CFO David Frear will make his case to investors at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. So, is Sirius desperate? "There is still some healthy upside to be had if things go right for it — and plenty of room for it to fall if things don't," but one thing's for certain: "Sirius XM is never boring."

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