Initially, XM offered digital programming from geostationary orbit. As of 2008, the service provides content from a network of satellites. In addition to the satellites, XM has terrestrial repeater stations. These sites are located around the country and are used to compensate for signal blockage. They vary in number depending on signal quality. However, XM"s network has reduced from more than 1,000 stations when the service first began in 2001.
Before the merger, XM and Sirius were the only two major satellite radio networks, each offering exclusive programming. Despite their popularity, they faced competition from car manufacturers, who negotiated with XM and Sirius for distribution rights. Car manufacturers also used XM"s services to offer their customers an in-car navigation system that transmitted coded traffic information.
XM and Sirius are competing to win subscribers, especially those in the mass-market retail channel. To this end, XM and Sirius spend a great deal of time and effort to attract new subscribers. For example, they offer equipment rebates, commercial-free music, and out-of-market sporting events.
During the initial phase of the XM and Sirius merger, both companies agreed to certain programming arrangements in order to protect their market share. This included agreeing to prevent pricing increases and stifling competition. Both companies also arranged for their affiliates to receive director designations.
XM Satellite Radio has more than 9.3 million subscribers, making it the largest satellite radio provider in the United States. This network operates from studios in Chicago, Nashville, and Washington, DC. On top of that, XM broadcasts from satellites in the S band, allowing the network to offer gap-free coverage for subscribers.
XM"s broadcast signal is received in most of Mexico. However, the network is not licensed for paid subscribers in the Mexican market.
XM"s service has been criticized for low customer service and poor reception in some areas of the country. Nevertheless, the company is renowned for its quality broadcasts. Among its notable offerings are an NFL and MLB football station and a 24/7 sports channel. Other programs include news, children"s and adult music, and niche formats.
XM"s re-capitalization plan involved the issuance of over US$300 million in 10% convertible bonds to a group of private investors. In return, XM agreed to defer interest for three years on notes and debts owed by the company.
XM"s broadcasting is carried on two high-powered satellites. XM"s signals were aimed at providing gap-free coverage across the contiguous U.S. and Canada. There are about 800 XM repeater stations scattered across the country. Most of these sites are not owned or operated by XM.
XM"s programming is controlled by Eric Logan, the Executive Vice President of Programming. Logan announced the company"s plans to add more commercial-free music channels. He also reiterated XM"s commitment to commercial-free music.