Satellite Radio has become a very popular alternative to broadcast radio since its first release. It did take a while for the two competitors of satellite radio, Sirius and XM, to begin gaining customers. Equipment was expensive and bulky. There is also a monthly fee for the service, where broadcast radio is free. Satellite does have a few advantages against broadcast that helped it gain momentum more each year. There are very few channels on satellite radio that have commercials. This is very similar to premium cable television like HBO or Showtime…they cost extra but have no commercials.
Another great feature Satellite Radio offers is quality that you cannot find in broadcast radio. Satellite radio is a digital signal that sounds cleaner and has virtually no static because with digital signals you either have close to full quality or nothing at all. Satellite also offers coast to coast coverage so you do not have to search for a local station when you travel.
Recent technology moves have helped the receiver end of satellite radio tremendously. Car manufacturers now offer satellite equipment built in to new cars so that there is nothing to buy, just the monthly service fee. Some car companies like GMC only offer XM capability, but many companies offer you to choose either but not both. Car manufacturers also offer much more high end stereos that can utilize the benefits of a digital signal. They use this as a sales pitch to show how good their stereos really are.
Satellite does have new competition that is broadcast for free like analog radio. HD Radio will be broadcast by many local stations in the near future offering better quality than satellite radio. This is much like television stations that broadcast HD TV locally. There are still commercials, but clear sound and music information about artists is available by any HD Radio equipped stereo. Only the future will tell if people are willing to shell out the dough to avoid commercials.