No car? SiriusXM’s $8 a month streaming plan has everything but Howard Stern

SiriusXM looks like it’s finally getting serious about competing with music-streaming services like Apple Music, and Spotify. The satellite radio company has announced a new subscription package called “Essential” that provides more than 300 commercial-free channels of programming for just $8 per month, making it the least expensive option SiriusXM offers.

The new package is aimed squarely at people who use their phones, tablets, or smart speakers as their primary way of listening to music. It delivers audio over an internet connection instead of the company’s network of satellites and terrestrial repeaters. As such, the plan does not include access via in-car entertainment systems that have built-in SiriusXM receivers or any of the company’s dedicated radios.

“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 press release.

There’s a ton of content options among the available channels, including artist-branded music channels like Diplo’s Revolution, The Garth Channel, and Eminem’s Shade 45. SiriusXM’s new Xtra channels have the ability to skip through songs, something that hasn’t been available on traditional satellite radio channels in the past. You can’t download music for offline listening, and at the $8 a month tier, you won’t get access to Howard Stern’s two channels — a big draw for many SiriusXM customers. To get Stern, along with premier sports content like NBA, NHL, and NCAA channels, you’ll need to jump up to the $15 per month Premier streaming package.

The new streaming package is compatible with a wide range of devices including smartphones, tablets via the SiriusXM app, Amazon Alexa, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, smart TVs, Sonos speakers, Xbox, Sony PlayStation, and more. It’s also available on the web via the SiriusXM.com web player.

If you happen to have a car with either Apple’s CarPlay or Android Auto, you probably won’t miss the ability to use the built-in SiriusXM radio, assuming you have a reasonably generous data plan. The streaming service uses about 80Mb of data per hour, which means you could theoretically stream 1,000 hours of content on a 4GB plan. That’s the rate for the HD quality stream, but you can always switch to the low bandwidth version if you’re concerned about going over your data allowance.

Not sure if Essential is right for you? You can try it for three months, for just $1.

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