SiriusXM’s new streaming-only ‘Essential’ plan targets smart speaker owners

Last week, Amazon and Google rolled out free music streaming services to cater to the growing base of smart speaker owners. Now, SiriusXM is going after this market, too. The company has launched a new plan called SiriusXM Essential that targets those who listen in-home and on mobile devices, but not in cars. The streaming-only plan is also more affordable — $8 per month, versus the $15.99 per month (and up) plans for SiriusXM’s satellite radio service for cars.

With a subscription to Essential, customers can stream to in-home devices, including Amazon Alexa, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Apple TV, Roku, Sonos speakers, Xbox, Sony PlayStation and others, as well as to phones, tablets and desktops.

The plan offers SiriusXM’s full lineup of more than 300 channels, including 200+ channels of commercial-free music stations, and its new Pandora NOW station. There are also 100+ of the newer SiriusXM Xtra channels that offer more music and the ability to skip through songs. Beyond music, listeners can access sports-talk channels, as well as entertainment, news and comedy stations.

“The strength of SiriusXM’s programming is evident in the tens of millions of people who subscribe and listen in their cars year after year. We’ve now created the Essential subscription as an appealing option for the many people, particularly younger consumers, who don’t have a car or don’t spend a lot of time in their car,” said Matt Epstein, vice president of Marketing, SiriusXM Outside the Car, in a statement. “The Essential plan offers an attractive bundle of content at a competitively low price among streaming services,” he added.

The launch comes at a time when several markets are adjusting to better serve a younger demographic that often lives more urban, and doesn’t own a car — or waits until later in life to get one, having also delayed things like marriage, home ownership and starting a family. That cuts into SiriusXM’s core business of offering in-car subscription radio.

The new plan also arrives just as smart speaker ownership has hit critical mass in the U.S. That’s led to increased competition from streaming music providers, which have now launched entry-level free services to reach listeners in the home. Amazon and Google, for instance, both launched ad-supported free music services last week for their respective smart speakers — the Amazon Echo and Google Home. These free tiers serve as funnels to the companies’ premium, paid subscriptions. Similarly, SiriusXM’s lower-cost subscription plan could later send its users over to pricier plans, if they later on do acquire a vehicle.

But it also caters to those who want a more radio-like experience, with news, sports and entertainment, not just music; plus always-on streams of curated music, not playlists programmed by AI.

SiriusXM Essential is $1 per month for three months before converting to the full price of $8 per month.