Is Clear Channel Laughing at Sirius XM?

It's all about timing when it comes to comedy, so what can one say about Clear Channel (OTC: CCMO) beefing up its iHeartRadio streaming app with 24/7 Comedy Radio?

Clear Channel has been promoting the commercial-free comedy channel, and with good reason. Consumers tend to think of iHeartRadio, Pandora (NYS: P) , and CBS' (NYS: CBS) as streaming music sites. Clear Channel wants to make sure that it stands out.

On the premium end, Sirius XM Radio (NAS: SIRI) offers more than just music through its streaming plan. Most of the talk, sports, and celebrity content that's available through its satellite receivers can also be accessed online. Both Sirius and XM offer dedicated comedy stations, so Clear Channel is aiming well with its free offering.

This isn't the first time that the terrestrial leader sneaks a peek at the satellite radio giant's playbook. Latin music will be a major part of the upcoming Sirius XM 2.0 launch, and Clear Channel recently teamed up with Spanish-language radio giant Univision to add dozens of Latin American music and talk channels to the roughly 800 streaming broadcast stations that are currently available on iHeartRadio.

The playing field is clearly heating up, even though the limitations of streaming -- compared to Sirius XM's flagship satellite feeds -- can't be ignored.

  • Connectivity on the open road isn't perfect.

  • Sprint Nextel (NYS: S) is the only major carrier selling unlimited data plans to new accounts, so hardcore streaming isn't exactly free through most devices.

  • Dashboard technology is making smartphone integration easier, but it's still not as seamless as pushing the satellite radio button.

The real test for Sirius XM will come when it raises its rates in January. If it can keep churn in check despite the improving competition, Sirius XM will be the one getting the last laugh.

If you want to see how Sirius XM stands up to the stream teams, addSirius XM Radioto My Watchlist.

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