SiriusXM quietly adds Pandora-powered channels to app, online radio service

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Satellite radio giant SiriusXM has quietly added around 100 new web-only channels that are powered by Pandora.

The new feature was spotted by The Desk in a developer note on an update for the SiriusXM iPhone app Wednesday afternoon. It comes less than one month after SiriusXM announced it had completed its acquisition of streaming media service Pandora.

The on-demand streams, branded as “Xtra Channels,” largely use the same feature as Pandora except they require users to select from pre-programmed radio streams based on live streams that appear on SiriusXM’s legacy service. For example, fans of SiriusXM Hits 1, the satellite company’s flagship pop music station, will be able to choose from three Xtra channels franchised from the playlist of the original channel: Hits 1 Discovery, Hits 1 Top Hits and Hits 1 Workout.

The new feature is similar to one unveiled in 2012 as part of a refresh of the service known as “SiriusXM 2.0.” That service allowed users to launch on-demand versions of certain legacy music channels with tools to tweak the format of the playlist based on a user’s taste. That feature was removed from the online radio and app versions of SiriusXM about two years later.

It was unclear if the new feature unveiled on Wednesday allowed users to modify playlists; it appeared to be offline when The Desk tried to access it, and customers of SiriusXM also complained of not being able to access it on social media, suggesting the feature was rolled out to users before the company was ready to launch it.

The on-demand music component of SiriusXM’s web service was not unexpected: Analysts and users alike had speculated the satellite radio company would offer the ability to listen to DJ-free playlists similar to what Pandora has offered for years. A SiriusXM executive further stoked speculation in a comment made earlier this month.

“The premier products that SiriusXM and Pandora listeners have enjoyed for years are not changing,” SiriusXM Chief Executive Officer Jim Meyer said. “That said, good things come from being together, and we look forward to creating new unique audio packages that combine our strengths and offer an even wider range of content to our listeners.”