Satellite Radio Programming Packages and Subscription Tiers

not all radio is free
Since Sirius and XM both cost cash dollars to listen to, it's important to understand the differences in their programming packages. Talaj/E+/Getty Images

Unlike terrestrial radio (including HD radio), satellite radio is a premium service that requires a monthly subscription to work in addition to hardware like a Dock & Play unit or dedicated satellite radio tuner. It’s similar to cable and satellite television in that way, and that similarity extends to the realm of satellite radio subscription and programming packages. The main difference is that where you have a couple different options for premium television providers, there’s only one game in town when it comes to satellite radio: SiriusXM.

Sirius XM Radio was formed in 2008 when Sirius Satellite Radio acquired XM Satellite Radio, and while non-compatible hardware is still sold under both brand names (and the combined SiriusXM brand), channel lineups, programming packages, and subscription fees are the same for both services.

Howard Stern made waves in 2004 when he announced an intention to move his show from terrestrial radio to the Sirius satellite radio network, and a spate of additional celebrities and sports networks followed suit, which served to differentiate Sirius and XM.

Today, nearly all of those programs are available on both networks. However, there are some programming differences between the lower subscription tiers.

Sirius Satellite Radio Programming Packages and Subscription Tiers

Sirius offers three main subscription tiers, but you can also create your own ala carte subscription, or choose a specialized package that includes sports, news, or other types of content.

The main Sirius subscription tiers are:

  • Sirius Mostly Music ($10.99)*
  • Sirius Select ($15.99)*
  • Sirius All Access ($19.99)*
  • Streaming only ($15.99)*

Other programming packages include:

  • Sirius News, Sports, and Talk ($10.99)*
  • Sirius Select Family Friendly ($14.99)*
  • Sirius All Access Family Friendly ($18.99)*
  • Sirius Ala Carte ($8.99)*
  • Sirius Ala Carte Gold ($16.99)*
  • Streaming Add-on ($4.00)*

You can also obtain current channel lineup information and subscription prices directly from SiriusXM.

XM Satellite Radio Programming Packages and Subscription Tiers

XM also offers three main subscription tiers, additional programming packages, and ala carte options. The plans are all named and priced the same as Sirius plans, but they don’t necessarily contain the exact same programming. For instance, Sirius Select includes Howard Stern, while XM Select doesn’t, while XM Select includes Opie & Anthony, while Sirius Select doesn’t.

The main XM Satellite Radio subscription tiers are:

  • XM Mostly Music ($10.99)*
  • XM Select ($15.99)*
  • XM All Access ($19.99)*
  • Streaming only ($15.99)*

Other programming options include:

  • XM News, Sports, and Talk ($10.99)*
  • XM Select Family Friendly ($14.99)*
  • XM All Access Family Friendly ($18.99)*
  • XM Ala Carte ($8.99+)*
  • Sirius Ala Carte Gold ($16.99)*
  • Streaming Add-on ($4.00)

SiriusXM Internet Radio, MiRGE, and SiriusXM Subscriptions

In addition to satellite broadcasts that require special satellite radio tuners, SiriusXM also offers programming via an Internet radio service. This service is included with Sirius All Access and XM All Access, but you can also subscribe to it ala carte or by itself.

  • SiriusXM Internet Radio add-on ($4.99)*
  • SiriusXM Internet Radio standalone subscription ($15.99)*

MiRGE radios are capable of receiving and decoding both Sirius and XM broadcasts, which means you can access everything that Sirius and XM have to offer (aside from "XTRA" channels) with these units. The main subscription tiers are:

  • SiriusXM Select ($15.99)*
  • SiriusXM All Access ($19.99)*

The final type of subscription requires a SiriusXM-branded radio. These units are capable of receiving “XTRA” channels, which include music, talk and entertainment, sports, and world music channels.

Can You Pay Less For SiriusXM Satellite Radio?

While packages for both Sirius and XM are similar in price and programming, there are a few ways to get the costs down.

One is to purchase a used satellite radio that is tied to a lifetime subscription. While these subscriptions are no longer offered, you may be able to find an older unit with a lifetime subscription that still works.

If you bought a lifetime subscription at some time in the past, but you now have a brand new satellite radio, you also have the option to transfer the subscription. SiriusXM does charge a fee for this, but that is somewhat mitigated by the fact that you won't have to pay for a subscription going forward.

*Note: all prices and subscription options were obtained from SiriusXM and are valid as of September 2017. Please contact SiriusXM for current tiers, pricing, and programming availability before purchasing any hardware.