Monday, August 24, 2009

Commercial Free. Are You Sure?

For any of you who are as picky as I am when it comes to the audio emanating from your car’s speakers then satellite radio is a technological miracle. Not only can I hear every Mets game/loss in crystal-clear FM quality (instead of trying to “micro-tune” a NY station in through the static) but I can also hear live concerts, traffic whenever I want, or a bevy of other things you just can’t pull in on the regular radio dial.

Unfortunately, as with everything else in my life, there is a downside. In the case of satellite radio it is the advertisers and their commercials. I’ll come back to the “commercial-free” stations in a moment, but first why is it that every commercial break on the other stations results in my ears being treated to a combination of late night TV infomercials crammed down to fit a 30-second radio spot and what essentially amounts to the reading of my e-mails SPAM box. Among the topics covered: male sexual performance, weight loss (usually thru colon cleansing), make money from home (this one is “GUARANTEED” to work. This is a phenomena I clearly don’t understand.

By many estimates, the number of subscribers to one of the two main providers (actually they are one and the same company at this point) XM and Sirius climb above the 20 million mark. Add to that the fact that because the stations are so diverse and niche, advertisers can really hone in on their target audience(s). This should be the formula for major corporations pushing their product on satellite radio. Yet I’ve never heard an ad for McDonalds, nor Coke, not even for Trop50! I have, however, heard spots for Extense, Dinovite, and Make Money at Home! NOW!. head is hurting.

Frankly I’d be fine with no commercials and just my subscriber fees paying the way for programming but I do understand enough about business to see that this model wouldn’t work for all the offerings bouncing off of the space disks. Now there are several “commercial-free” music stations that are offered but as I mentioned earlier these also appear to be farces when viewed from closer in. You see they don’t actually air “commercials” in the true sense (a pre-recorded spot from an advertiser) but they do take 30 seconds of time out every 2-3 songs to remind you that the station is commercial-free or to tell you about the bevy of other commercial-free programming they have on other channels.

Seemingly it’s a “pull my hair out Monday!”

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