Orbitcast: November 2006 Archives

November 2006 Archives

XM Re-Launching "Top 20 on 20" on December 4th


XM Top 20 on 20XM Satellite Radio is re-launching their flagship hits channel, Top 20 on 20 (ch 20), on Monday, December 4th.

As part of the re-launch, Top 20 on 20 will feature on-air personalities around the clock, along with the popular Top 20 on 20 countdowns airing throughout the day at 12, 3, 6 and 9am and pm ET/PT. In addition, the new 20 on 20 will include celebrity hosted countdowns each Friday at 9pm ET/6pm PT.  

To kick off the revamped channel, during the week of December 4th, XM’s 20 on 20 will air celebrity countdowns each day hosted by Nelly Furtado (Dec. 4), Ciara (Dec. 5), Diddy (Dec. 6), Evanescence (Dec. 7) and Chingy (Dec. 8). The channel will also feature performances by celebrity "House Band" guests throughout the week, including The Fray, Hinder, Ludacris, Pink, KT Tunstall and others.  

Current Top 20 on 20 MD Priestly and PD Michelle Cartier will be on-air hosts for the new Top 20 on 20 during mornings and mid-days, respectively. XM has also hired two new personalities for the channel – Evan James, previously with MTV Radio, who will host afternoons out of XM’s New York studios, and Chris Styles, of DC’s Hot 99.5, will serve as evening host from XM’s DC headquarters.


Karmazin: Sirius holiday sales are "strong," but "difficult" compared to last year


Mel KarmazinSuperstar CEO Mel Karmazin said on Thursday that Sirius' holiday sales were strong, but might fall short of last year's subscriptions.

"Business is very strong, very good," Karmazin told the Reuters Media Summit in New York. But he added: "We have a very difficult comparison this fourth quarter."

"Assuming that we have a very good last 10 days, then we'll be just fine," Karmazin said. Last year Sirius signed up around 500,000 new subscribers in a 10 day period.

"If in fact, God forbid, we don't, December will go from being what we hope it will be, which will be the very best month in our history, to the second-best month. But no matter what, it's amazingly strong."


Looking for Canadian Subscribers


Real quick - are there any Canadian satellite radio subscribers (XM Canada or Sirius Canada) who would like to speak with a reporter from the Globe and Mail? Specifically looking for Montrealers.

If so, please shoot an email over to cbateman_99@yahoo.com. Thanks!


Bushnell ONIX400CR GPS/XM Handheld


Bushnell ONIX400CR GPS/XMWe first spotted the elusive Bushnell ONIX400CR when it was honored with the 2007 CES Innovations Award, but at the time there was little details available on the unit. All we knew was that it was a handheld XM-Ready GPS/Weather tracker. Satellite Radio TechWorld even discovered a related patent application back in early October, though it veiled in secrecy.

Orbitcast has obtained the specs to the ONIX 400CR, and this looks like one incredible device. It looks like Bushnell is aggressive going after Garmin by providing XM, XMWX Weather Data, and GPS with Satellite Imagery all in a single handheld device - and it's priced well below the competition.

Here's the features: 

  • Large 3.5” full color screen (320 x 240)
  • Aerial & satellite photos can be downloaded from Bushnell web site for real world navigation
  • Access to live XMWX weather feeds including animated Doppler radar, severe storm tracking & warnings
  • Screen layering (including weather)
  • Safetrack™  battery conservation mode
  • Option of XM satellite entertainment packages available
  • Customized user profiles
  • Designed for outdoor use
  • Ergonomic design
  • Waterproof, rugged rubber armor (IPX7 Standard)
  • LCD screen readable in direct sunlight
  • Imbedded 64MB Micro SD card
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion battery
  • USA & Canada Base Map
  • SiRF GPS Chip Set

The Bushnell ONIX400CR will go for an MSRP of only $499 (half that of the Garmin 376c and a fraction of the cost of the Garmin 396c). The Bushnell ONIX400CR is expected to be available in February 2007.

One interesting thing to note is the use of the "XM satellite entertainment" moniker. This is something that I thought was reserved for satellite video, but I could be jumping the gun on that.


XM Canada partners with Air Canada

Air CanadaXM Canada has joined forces with Air Canada to provide satellite radio content to travelers starting on March 1, 2007.

XM's broadcasts will be accessed on a new touch-screen entertainment system on the back of each seat, which will be installed in all of the Canadian carrier's planes.

XM Canada's English and French content will replace the current enRouteFM broadcasts.

[via CheapFlights.com


XM to be Factory-Installed in 650,000+ Hondas for 2007


2007 Honda CivicHonda will factory-install XM Satellite Radio into more than 650,000 of their 2007 model year vehicles.

In 2004 Honda made over 200,000 vehicles with XM; over 400,000 in 2005; over 550,000 in 2006; and now is projecting production of more than 650,000 factory-installed XM units for 2007.

Remember XM is also now a standard feature on all 2007 model year Acuras.



Special Preview Broadcast of "Tony Stewart Live" on Sirius

Tony StewartA special preview of Sirius Satellite Radio's new NASCAR talkshow "Tony Stewart Live" will be broadcast tomorrow November 30th from 6-8 pm ET, on Sirius NASCAR Radio (ch 128). Stewart and his co-host Matt Yocum will be broadcasting live from SIRIUS’ New York Studios during NASCAR Champions Week.

Tony will welcome special guests, take some calls and cover the spectrum of motorsports - from NASCAR to open-wheel racing and beyond. The regular weekly, live two-hour radio show debuts in January.

AudioListen to a preview of "Tony Stewart Live" (WAV).

Sirius Promotion: Free Stiletto Home Kit or Car Kit


Sirius is offering a free Home Kit or Vehicle Kit when purchased with the Stiletto 100 or Stiletto 10 from 11-23-06 to 12-31-06. The rebate is technically a $70 off coupon, but since both the Home and Car kit go for about $70... well, you can do the math.

Free Stiletto Home Kit or Car Kit 

Go here for the rebate form (PDF). This discount is valid at most retailers excluding Sam's Club, Target and Wal-Mart (pssst! help support this site: check out our sponsors to your right).

Thanks realwx! 


Amp'd Mobile Supercross Debuts on XM Sports Nation


Amp'd Supercross on XMXM Satellite Radio will broadcast each of the 17 races from the 2006-2007 Amp'd Mobile World Supercross GP and Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Serie on XM Sports Nation (ch 143). Also, XM Sports Nation will provide news from each race on "XMSN This Morning with TJ Rives," featuring riders and industry insiders.

This is the fifth year of the relationship between Amp’d Mobile Supercross and XM Satellite Radio Radio. This year XM Sports Nation is providing an extra hour of coverage for each race, broadcasting live each Saturday during the season from 5pm-8pm 11pm-2am ET.

The three-hour show features Supercross LIVE! announcers Jim Holley and Jason Weigandt calling the race from the press box, bringing all the racing action to listeners nationwide.

[Press Release


Sirius Reveals NASCAR Programming Initiative


NASCARSirius has unveiled their programming initiative when the NASCAR torch is handed over from XM to Sirius in 2007.

Sirius will combine live race broadcasts with up to 10 additional "Team Talk" channels featuring the driver-to-crew communications of different race teams during NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races. So you'll be able to follow the overall race call and the in-car audio of a driver on a single channel throughout the race.

The channels will feature top drivers based on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings. The lineup of drivers and their channel assignments will be available at www.sirius.com/nascar before each race.

Sirius will broadcast every NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, carrying the live broadcasts of Motor Racing Network (MRN), Performance Racing Network (PRN) and the IMS Radio Network's broadcast from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

On top of all this live race coverage, Sirius will launch SIRIUS NASCAR Radio (ch 128) which will include live races, plus daily and weekly talk programs, including "Tony Stewart Live."

More details, schedules and hosts on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio will be announced soon.


CRTC Gives Rogers Cable Go Ahead for Satellite Radio

RogersThe CRTC has granted Rogers Cable the rigth to distribute satellite subscription radio services via their digital cable service The decision means customers in Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to subscribe to Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Radio using their Rogers cable TV account.

Rogers hasn't yet announced which provider they will go with as part of their Rogers Digital offering, 

The Rogers Cable application was actually opposed by the CBC, who owns 40% of Sirius Canada. Interestingly though, Sirius Canada fully supported Rogers application. CSR (XM Canada) generally supported Rogers, but "could not accurately assess the impact of the proposed carriage on its own business plan until it had concluded an agreement with Rogers or any other BDU."

Read the full CRTC Decision here

[via Mediacaster Magazine

Satellite Video: Where would the content come from?


Mobile Satellite Video
Satellite Video, or Satellite Radio Video, or SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand), or whatever the heck it would be called. It's something that's been talked about by both Sirius and XM for quite some time now.

Sirius has brought up a video service since early 2004. Along the way Sirius has said that their mobile in-car video services would provide children's content in a live format, and would be available by the second half of this year as part of their OEM offering. We even know that Sirius plans to use Microsoft's Windows Media Player 9.

XM demonstrated their own in-car satellite video at CES last year, and even went so far as to demonstrate a live wearable video player to analysts in the beginning of this year. XM has partnered with On2 to provide their video compression technology.

The efforts even extend into Canada where XM Canada and Sirius Canada both talked up satellite video with an expected release for late-2006.

But the question isn't "if" this will happen, or even "when" (because a delay at this point wouldn't surprise anyone - it's almost December afterall) - the question is... how?

The experience needs to be something that consumers will actually find useful. It can't just be music videos or clips of Despirate Housewives. This isn't the iPod audience per se (though it will be compared to the iPod nearly instanteously). If the target distribution market is vehicles, then the audience to appeal to should definitely be kids. Sirius has a good hunch here.

But big name content providers aren't going to sign on board immediately. They sure as hell didn't when iTunes started offering video, though maybe since the landscape has changed so has the mindset of entertainment companies. But most likely the content would need to be either created in-house or by current VOD content providers. I personally love the content provided by Comcast's Select On Demand for my kids, and similar providers would be quite open to working with both satcasters.

Then there's social video. Verizon partnered with YouTube (but as a neutered version), and a similar style of approach isn't inconceivable. But it couldn't be the only content provided, and would be best for a handheld video player rather than a rear seat video application.

For the in-house route, the obvious choice would be to make the satellite video offering an extension of the core satellite radio services. So you could see the action in-studio, or watch whatever the hosts are talking about. This works great for the talk channels.

Aside from children's content, YouTube-style videos or in-studio shenanegans - what would be on your "wishlist" for content if/when Sirius and XM unveil this technology to the masses?


At Home With Joe Clayton


Joe ClaytonSirius Satellite Radio Chairman Joe Clayton had his beautiful home featured in Electronic House, and it's absolutely gorgeous.

The 16,000-sqft English mansion is set on 5.5 acres overlooking the 18th hole of a golf course. And it's wired to the gills.

Twenty zones of audio inside and another eight on the manicured grounds, pool area and tennis courts. Kaleidescape video server. Two Fireball music servers. Six Dish HD receivers with HD DVRs. And of course, six Sirius Satellite Radio receivers.

Beautiful pics and more info in the article. Very impressive. 

[Electronic House


Mary Occhino Launching Show on SIRIUS


Mary OcchinoPsychic medium, author, and lecturer Mary Occhino (aka "Mary O") will host "Angels on Call," a new live daily call-in talk show on SIRIUS Satellite Radio.

Debuting on Monday, December 11th "Angels on Call" is the first live daily morning talk show on SIRIUS Stars (ch 102). It will air live Monday - Friday from 8am - 11am ET.

"Angels on Call with Mary O" will feature Mary Occhino talking with listeners and offering personal psychic readings. Mary O will also make predictions for listeners' futures, as well as guide them through the personal issues and problems they face in the present.

Mary O has been a regular guest on "Deepak Chopra's Wellness Radio."


Holiday Satellite Radio Sales Observations


Holiday Shoppers
In a recent report released by Bank of America Analyst Jonathan Jacoby, it was stated that channel checks with retail buyers (not sellers) indicate that gross retail sales will decline by 20% in the fourth quarter.

Now, that's down 20% year-over-year, mind you. Last year around this time there was a frenzy in retail as Howard Stern's departure from terrestrial was only three weeks away. So a YoY decline of only 20% is actually, not too shabby. Considering the hype and hooplah that surrounded the industry in 2005, a mere drop of 20% is a good sign of the industry's strength in my opinion.

So let's take a look at some different areas of interest now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us. First, here's the Alexa traffic numbers during a 7-day period:
Sirius.com vs. XMRadio.com

This shows that Sirius still leads XM in traffic, a look at a one-month period shows Sirius benefitting much more from weekday traffic than XM as well. Traffic can be inferred as a level of interest - not necessarily in sales, but in product research. Net-savvy users will research their options for their holiday shopping ahead of time. Sirius seems to be doing well.

A look at Amazon's Car Electronics best sellers shows satellite radio clearly dominating the category, with more XM products in the lead. Amazon's Satellite Radio category shows a similar favor towards XM. It's not all peaches and cream though, because satellite radio is no where to be seen in the Electronics category.

Looking at eBay's Consumer Electronics category shows a fair number of satellite radios being listed (nearly 6,000 items in total - the key would be to see this number grow in the coming weeks). The wearable/handheld units seem to be the most popular on eBay, which is really no surprise.

Now ShopperTrak estimated that Black Friday sales were up 6% from last year, but it was flat-panel TVs and computers that dominated the consumer electronics category. Unfortunately "Cyber Monday" ended up being a bust... well, not a bust necessarily, but just yet another holiday shopping day. While Microsoft's Xbox 360 Core sold out in 30-seconds for Amazon's door-buster campaign; the much hyped (and ugly) Microsoft Zune is falling fast on sales charts. There's a lot of competition this season for satellite radio, and nothing is a guarantee.

Remember, last year SIRIUS added 1,142,640 net subscribers and XM added 898,315 net subscribers in the fourth quarter (Gross Subscribers: 1,266,674 and 1,373,876 respectively). During the same period SIRIUS added 900,645 net retail subscribers, while XM added 782,420 net retail subscribers. So a 20% hit in retail - if equally applied to both XM and SIRIUS - would mean an estimated 720,516 net retail subs for SIRIUS, and an estimated 625,936 net retail subs for XM.

As a reminder, to meet guidance SIRIUS needs to add 1.18 Million net subs, and XM needs to add 515,000 to 715,000 net subs. 


Media Eats Up Mel's Merger Comments


Mel KarmazinKarmazin's latest comments to SmartMoney hinting toward a possible Sirius/XM merger are being eaten up by the press. Gee, who saw that coming.

No surprise as suggestions of a merger seem to get the media into a tizzy over even the slightest hint. This time around it the merger whispers haven't sent either stock soaring  though. Interesting. Perhaps investors are getting wise to this ruse. Personally, I feel it's a distraction. And a useless one at that.

But maybe Mel isn't to blame. Maybe it's the unoriginal media and their boring obvious questions. Maybe a better question to have asked Karmazin, rather than this XM/SIRIUS merger nonsense, should have been: "How is Sirius planning on beating last year's Q4 subscriber additions?"

Perhaps then we would get an answer that's truely newsworthy.


CES 2007 Preview: Raymarine SR100 SIRIUS Satellite Weather Receiver

Raymarine SR100The Raymarine SR100 SIRIUS Satellite Weather Receiver lets Raymarine's E-Series Navigation Displays to show up-to-date animated weather forecasts using SIRIUS Satellite Radio's Marine Weather Service.

The SR100 gives boaters a range of advanced forecast information like WSI NOWRad(R) weather radar forecasts, storm tracks, sea surface temperature, wind, surface pressure, wave heights, lightning and much more.

Raymarine is also the first marine electronics manufacturer to integrate SIRIUS' satellite weather services into their products.

Check out Raymarine's SR100 SIRIUS Satellite Weather Receiver at CES 2007 along with other CES Innovations Design and Engineering Award honorees at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, Booth #68747.

Watch the interactive demo.

New XM Canada TV Commercial


Here's a new XM Canada commercial. Funny and well done.


New Sirius TV Commercials


Here's some new commercials from Sirius that I haven't seen before. These are probably the best ones I've seen in a long time from Sirius. A nice cohesive concept with a clear message - "wide variety." Much better than the "guy popping up out of nowhere" commercials. (The audio is a bit messed up on the last one, but you'll get the idea.)

UPDATE: These are Sirius Canada commercials by the Rethink Agency in Vancouver. (Thanks cb!)


XM Coupon Code: Free Two-Week Subscription

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XM Coupon CodeXM Satellite Radio is now offering a free two-week subscription to XM Radio Online when you use a special coupon code. Normally the trial subscription is three days.

To access the free XM subscription, use the promo code "FREE2AIR14" when you register. As always no credit card is required, just a valid email address.

It's interesting timing for a promotion like this. Two weeks still gives plenty of time to purchase a radio by the Holidays. 

[via Deal News]
Thanks tim!

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NASCAR Pulling "Shift to Sirius" Promotion


NASCARNASCAR has instructed Sirius to stop the "Shift To Sirius" promotion, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

The campaign apparently was not approved by NASCAR and as a result they have asked Sirius to discontinue it. At the time of writing this the promotion is still live on American Wireless' website.


Sirius/XM Merger: "Regulatory agencies are not a problem" says Mel Karmazin


Mel KarmazinIn a SmartMoney interview with Mel Karmazin (via SSG), the subject touched upon the beaten-horse topic of a possible SIRIUS+XM merger.

Karmazin's response isn't that of complete dismissal, but rather he leads the answer in a suggestive direction stating that his focus is on "value and wealth creation" and that "mergers allow for that." Not necessarily saying anything, but teasing with the suggestion nonetheless.

When asked the same question by Bear Stearns analyst Bob Peck only a few weeks ago, Mel had a more conversative response in that he didn't "have very much to say about any hypothetical combination that could or could not exist." (He later went on to say that Sirius is going to kick XM's ass).

Karmazin then turned the topic to the regulatory hurdles - which most believe would be the biggest barrier to a merger occuring:

"I personally believe regulatory agencies are not a problem. If there's an iPod with terrestrial radio, it's hard to believe government is worried about two satellite radio companies combining."

I'm not sure I personally buy that argument and I doubt the regulatory powers-that-be do either. iPods with FM receivers have little to do with FCC-granted SDARS licenses. But for a topic that inevitably - and so easily - drives up stock prices (and drives Jim Cramer into a frenzy... which isn't difficult), why not use a little suggestive language?



New "Shift To Sirius" NASCAR Promotion


SIRIUS is kicking off a new NASCAR-related promotion offering $30 off a Sirius subscription when you send in a "competitor's" satellite radio.

Shift To Sirius 

View the PDF detailing the promo.

It's an interesting marketing approach that targets the price conscious shopper. NASCAR's own demographics claim that 59% of its fanbase live in homes with an annual income below $50,000 and another 32% are below $30,000 [via USA Today]. Those current XM subscribers who are aware of the "shift" to Sirius occuring in 2007 will be left with an essentially useless receiver, should they choose to follow NASCAR in January. This looks to be an attempt by Sirius to ensure that they do.

[via American Wireless]
Thanks tim!

UPDATE: Note that this only applies to Brix units, not Directed Electronics products. Also, as pointed out in the comments, a look at the fine print shows that only current XM subscribers are eligible. Interesting.

UPDATE 2: This promotion has apparently been discontinued by NASCAR's request.


Hertz and AAA Extend SIRIUS Offering


Hertz MustangNot only have Sirius and AAA partnered together but now Hertz and AAA have announced an expanded agreement to offer more benefits to AAA members. Hertz and AAA have had an exclusive relationship for about 14 years now.

The new benefits include increased discounts, a free child seat, 25% Hertz's nav-system, and yes, 50% off Sirius Satelllite Radio. This is available in the US and Canada.

[via SSG]
Thanks realwx!


Delphi SkyFi3 - Unboxed


A Delphi SkyFi3 review unit just arrived on my doorstep courtesy of our friends at The Radio Place. An in-depth review will be written soon, but for now here's some photos of the unboxing and the contents that come with the SkyFi3 (which includes the new XM SureConnect FM transmitter).

Delphi SkyFi3 

More photos after the jump...


Orbitcast Review: Vaja Cases for Pioneer Inno/Samsung Helix


Pioneer Inno Vaja CasesVaja Cases are well known for creating high-end leatehr cases for mobile devices, so it was no surprise that they would create a line of products for the Samsung Helix/Pioneer Inno. What was a surprise was to find a review unit on my doorstep.

Vaja cases for the Helix/Inno give you full access to all the functions of the unit - including all the ports, volume controls, and power switch. But the real great thing about Vaja cases is the level of customability. They're not just customizable, the ridiculously customizable.

You have an incredible number of colors to choose from, as well as your choice of plastic or rivet clip (my review unit included no clip), and even text or graphic personalization. Awesome.

This case is definitely meant as a high-end case, fitting right at home with any executive who doesn't want their Inno to look like something out of an Anime flick. And they're priced accordingly, with the basic unit coming in at $60 (add-ons like clips and customizations quickly add to the pricetag).

The only negative thing I can say about this case is that I still can't dock it (on the Home Dock) with the case on. This is by-far the slimmest case I've reviewed yet, but still not enough to squeeze into the dock. This isn't too big of a deal though because the case is leather (and a gorgeous leather I might add) that is much easier to slide off than other rubberized cases.

Check out more pics after the jump (plus a special Thanksgiving surprise!) or go play with Vaja's customizing engine for yourself...


Update on the Pioneer Inno 2


Pioneer InnoSome clarification on the Inno 2 speculation from yesterday:

  • The GEXINNO2BK is the model number for the new updated Pionner Inno - not the next-gen Inno. This is just an new Inno with XM SureConnect included.
  • The "BK" could indicate a new Black color.
  • The Pioneer Inno2 - the next generation Inno - will most likely be unveiled at CES, but that's not confirmed.
  • The "ipod built in" description is, as expected, bogus.

Anyway, that it for now. But the real news is that this new Inno is just with an updated FM modulator, while we'll have to wait for the juicy stuff after the Holidays.

Thanks Jimmy! 

UPDATE: The "BK" in the GEXINNO2BK model number indicates "Base Kit" and not "Black" as we had hoped. 


Bob Dylan's XM Radio Show To Air on BBC

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Bob DylanBob Dylan's XM Satellite Radio show, Theme Time Radio Hour, is being syndicated to the UK's BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music throughout 2007.
BBC Radio 2 will offer a sneak preview, broadcasting six of the shows during the Holiday Season starting on Saturday December 23rd 2006 running through to Thursday, December 28th (schedule available here).
BBC Music 6 will broadcast the shows starting on December 31st at 9pm and then every Friday night from January 12th at 9pm (schedule available here). 
“Bob Dylan is a legendary figure and I’m sure these shows will be of great interest to our audience.  It’ll be fascinating to hear who his favourite artists are and who has influenced him throughout his career,” said Lesley Douglas, Controller BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music.

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SIRIUS Canada Breaks 200,000 Subscribers


Sirius CanadaSIRIUS Canada has just announced that they've surpassed over 200,000 paying subscribers within the first year of operation.

This is incredible news considering that they've outpaced rival XM Canada, who announced they had 120,000 subscribers (91k being "self-paying") earlier this month. Sirius Canada has held a dominating position in Canada, with a retail marketshare of more than 70% year-to-date according to NPD.

Sirius Canada broke 100,000 subscribers back in May, and launched on December 1, 2005. So they're pacing about 100k subs every 6-months. That's impressive.

Read the full press release after the jump... 


Pioneer Inno 2? (Speculation Alert!)


Pioneer Inno2Apparently mentions of a Pioneer Inno 2 (Model # GEXINNO2BK) have been popping up all over the Internets lately.

First there's this listing over at Focus Camera, which describes it as the "Pioneer xm inno 2 with ipod built in" - curious. Digital Foto Club has it listed the same way. Curiouser. J&R also has it listed, but with the regular Inno name and specs - yet the GEXINNOBK2 part number is displayed. Curiouser and curiouser.

The "with ipod built in" is obviously the biggest eyebrow raiser - either it's a massive Freudian slip, or the mindless substitution of "ipod" for what should "mp3" as a moniker. My guess is the latter because "with ipod built in" just doesn't make any sense.

Now we still haven't seen much of the X2G-100 from last month, which Audiovox is now is saying is pushed to February 2007 (originally November 2006).

I'll take a wild guess here and assume that the Audiovox X2G-100 is the sister device to the Pioneer Inno2 GEXINNO2BK. Which then leads me to believe that Audiovox, and subsequently Pioneer, is waiting post-CES to launch this badboy next-gen XM2go to the masses.

Recall that a few investment analysts (lucky bastards) got to see a pimped out Inno earlier this year and indicated that new models sporting 2Gb or more of storage may be seeing the light of day soon. Let's hope it's the "or more" option.

Thanks JW! 


Black Friday Watch: Samsung Nexus at Best Buy (bonus item)

Samsung NexusBest Buy is having five additional items on sale that were not advertised in their Black Friday flyer.

Of those items is the Samsung Nexus 50 - not the Nexus 25 - for only $49.99 after instant savings and mail-in rebate. This is an in-store only discount, even though there is a webpage showing it.

[Best Buy 7 Hour Specials

Paul Oakenfold Shows Coming to SIRIUS


Paul OakenfoldSets by Paul Oakenfold, one of the biggest and most prominent DJ/producers, will be heard exclusively on Sirius Satellite Radio beginning December 8th.

"Paul Oakenfold: Perfecto On Tour" will air on Sirius' Area 33 (ch 33) featuring two-hour live sets recorded from his worldwide gigs. Each week, shows will air on Fridays from 8 to 10pm ET, with replays on Sundays from 12 to 2am ET.


Delphi SkyFi3 Now Shipping


Delphi SkyFi3
Reports are coming in that the Delphi SkyFi3 is now shipping to retailers.

While the offical word from Delphi was that the SkyFi3 would not be available until December 1st, some retailers like MyRadioStore and The Radio Place are listing that it's shipping now. Others are reporting their shipments are on the way. Either way, looks like the SkyFi3 is here just in time for the Holidays.

Now if I can only get my hands on one for a review...

UPDATE: Looks like Satellite Radio Superstore and JJI Electronics has the Delphi SkyFi3 in-stock as well. It's officially hit the streets kids!


New Opie & Anthony Weekend Programming Unveiled


Opie and AnthonyA new lineup of original weekend programming featuring regulars of the Opie and Anthony show has just been unveiled by XM Satellite Radio. Debuting this weekend (November 25th) on "The Virus" (ch 202) - the channel formerly known as "High Voltage."

The new weekend schedule will include:
Saturday Night Virus – a live, three-hour show airing Saturdays from 9pm ET to 12-midnight ET, featuring a different host each week from a rotating roster of popular O&A personalities. Patrice Oneal will serve as the show’s inaugural host on November 25th.  

The Razzle Dazzle Hour – a block of two new half-hour"Opie and Anthony specials each weekend airing Saturdays at 6am ET and 8pm ET, with additional encores on Sundays. Also debuting on November 25th is "When the Mics Are Off," featuring exclusive off-air content, and "Best of The Walks," highlighting the favorite on-air moments from Opie and Anthony’s daily walk up to their XM Studios.

Razzle dazzle! 


Speck Releases New Skins for Sirius Stiletto

Sirius Stiletto CasesSpeck has released a new line of products for Sirius' portable live satellite radio devices. Speck, as you may know, are the makers of cases for many satellite radio receivers including the Pioneer Inno and Sirius S50.

They've now just released cases for the Sirius Stiletto 100 and Stiletto 10. New Stiletto cases include the ToughSkin, Active Sport and Executive skins.

Jimmie Johnson Talks about Winning 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup on XM

Jimmie JohnsonJimmie Johnson won the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup championship yesterday in Homestead-Miami, and will talk about winning the title on his XM Satellite Radio show, "Jimmie Johnson ... Not What You Expected."

Throughout the 2006 season, Johnson has given his personal account of his dominant drive through the NASCAR season on his show with co-host Marty Smith. "Jimmie Johnson ... Not What You Expected" launched on February 16th, three days before Johnson opened the season by winning the Daytona 500, and will return for a second season on XM in February 2007.

You can tune in this Thursday, November 23rd, at 7pm ET on XM's NASCAR Radio (ch 144) and 10pm ET on XM Sports Nation (ch 143) to hear the special broadcast.

Stickin' It to the RIAA: Creative Restores FM Recording

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Creative Zen Vision:MThe war with the RIAA seemed to take a downturn last month when Creative issued a firmware update that removed FM recording from it's Zen MicroPhoto and Zen Vision:M digital audio players.

But with a big huzzah, hurray, and yippee, Creative has restored FM recording in their latest 1.60.01 firmware update. Score one for the home team.

The removal of Creative's FM recording was of deep concern because it set a dangerous precidence in the consumer electronics industry. If the RIAA could show that digital recording of FM is felonious then they could easily give that attribution to satellite radio (or HD radio) devices. So this is a good thing.


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Sirius Airs Paul McCartney's Classical Concert from Carnegie Hall

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Paul McCartney: Ecce Cor Meum
Paul McCartney's latest classical work, "Ecce Cor Meum" (written in the style of sacred English choral music) was played at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday - and Sirius Satellite Radio is airing broadcasts of it all weekend long.

"Ecce Cor Meum" (translated as "Behold My Heart") will play on Sirius Pops (ch 86) on Saturday November 18th at 11am ET, and Sunday November 19th at 12am ET and 9pm ET. Written in memory of his first wife Linda, the November 14th performance was McCartney’s only US performance.

In addition to "Ecce Cor Meum," Sirius will an interview with McCartney during intermission.

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AirTran Giving Away Free XM Vouchers


RoadyXTAirTran Airways is kicking off a new promotion by giving away a voucher for a free XM RoadyXT Satellite Radio to every single AirTran passenger - all in appreciate for their business.

The vouchers for the free RoadyXT radios will begin on flights starting today, and continue throughout the holiday season (or until Flight Attendants have given them all away).

They'll be handed out to passengers along with XM Satellite Radio headsets, and will include details on how to get the free radio on their doorstep in time to brighten up their holidays. Ho ho ho.


Report: Sirius Leads XM in Holiday Season Recommendations


XM vs SIRIUSIn a recent survey by The Channel Checkers, Sirius was recommended by retailers by 60% while XM was favored by 30% of retailers. 10% said that either/or were fine or equal (leaving 20% who said... nothing? yeah..wait, what?).

It's quickly noted in the article that the survey includes Radio Shack which has a tight relationship with Sirius. Interestingly enough, 10% of retailers at Radio Shack actually recommended XM - this may be due to the fact that reportedly some Radio Shack retailers offer XM as well.

Of the reasons why Sirius was recommended more than XM was NFL, NASCAR and Howard Stern. For XM's recommendations it was more music selection and... French channels. 

The article also reports that while last year there was a significant lean towards Sirius, this year the respondents reported much closer to 50/50 - in terms of new subscriber activations. Curious.

So while it's being recommended more by retailers, new sub activations remain in parity? Odd. That said, The Channel Checkers is predicting that Sirius should outpace XM in terms of new subscriber additions in Q4 of this year.

[The Channel Checkers


"Why I Did It" - Judith Regan talks about OJ Simpson book on her SIRIUS show


Judith ReganJudith Regan talked about the OJ Simpson book and the media frenzy surrounding it on her SIRIUS show, yesterday (November 16th) on "The Judith Regan Show."

As a result, SIRIUS is rebroadcasting the show on today at 7am ET, 8am ET, 10am ET, 11am ET, 12pm ET, 1pm ET, 6pm ET, and 7pm ET, and Saturday, November 18th at 1pm ET, 2pm ET, 3pm ET, and 4pm ET - all on SIRIUS Stars (ch 102).

Judith Regan yesterday also provided Drudge with an impassioned statement in response to the criticism over the book (entitled: "If I Did It, Here's How It Happened."), which justifies her actions by referencing her own history as a domestic abuse victim.

Personally, I'm on board with the Huffington Post on this one, finding it hard to view her confession without cynicism. I'm curious to hear what she has to say about the whole ordeal on her show.


The King of All Media... Dethroned?


Howard SternThe November 27th issue of Forbes Magazine has a scathing article, entitled Dethroned, talking about Howard Stern's move to Sirius and how he has "slipped as a cultural force."

The article cites several pieces of data to prove it's point - some of which are legitimate - others are unrelated in my opinion. 

For example, Forbes states that Stern's media mentions are down 23% year-to-date compared with 2004. It also highlights that Sirius has less of an audience than his terrestrial show. These are facts that can't be disputed and are related to the story.

Unrelated is Sirius' loss of $853 million last year, and the fact that Sirius' stock is down 44% since his first show debuted - there's a lot more factors in stock price than just Stern. It is intriguing to learn the 31.3 million shares Stern had handed to him back in January - then valued at $236 million - are now worth $116 million today (who knows if he's dumped any along the way).

Forbes does stick to facts though, if only to prove their point. They acknowledge his "antics" at CBS helped add 2.2 million subscribers for Sirius in 2005. They also point out that Sirius added 1.8 million subscribers since Stern's first show - but that rival XM added 1.2 million subscribers during the same time, sans Stern.

This graph illustrates the figures very nicely: 

Howard Stern's affect on Sirius 

And while the "dethroned" concept is probably only of interest to celebrity-watchers and the media (since they loathed referring to Stern as their "King"), the data itself`makes some good points - and if anything wakes up those who thought this was going to be an ongoing trend. I think that's really the bottom line here. Everyone needs to understand that there's a finite number of hardcore Stern fans, and there was a finite date to hear him on terrestrial, so this created an event. This is not a sustaining event though - and the numbers alone show it.

Where do we go from here? That's the question.


Lee Abrams on XM Diversity


XM Diversity
Lee Abrams has a speech he gives people about XM's musical diversity. It's based on the chart you see above, which splits the listener up into four different zones or "circles."

Each circle is a different area of description that people share. Don't think of it as profiling though, because you can be any number of the traits above (which would put you smack in the middle of the chart). But the chart is only half the story. It's the theory behind the chart that's amazing. Bob Lefsetz got to see it first hand, and urged Lee to make a video of the speech he had witnessed.

So he did.

Now put aside your lame "XM vs. SIRIUS" hats for one second and watch this video because I don't care what camp you're from, it's worth the watch. Watch the forming of a concept behind something that we all find captivating.

We're all satellite radio fans here, and a lot of that has to do with how the music speaks to us. Understand that here is a media company that isn't based on demographics and focus groups. It's driven by passion, and instilling that passion into it's listeners. That's unheard of! So if you want to see what it's all about - sit back and watch.

[Lee Abrams' Blog]
Thanks Russell!


Barbara Walters SIRIUS Show Debuts Tomorrow

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Barbara WaltersBarbara Walters' new SIRIUS show, "Ask Barbara Anything" will premiere live tomorrow, November 17th from 5pm-6pm ET on SIRIUS Stars (ch 102).

During the show Walters will invite listeners to call-in and share stories of their biggest mistakes, and she will share some of her own with her audience. The theme of this show amazingly coincides with Walters' latest primetime TV special, "The Barbara Walters Special: 30 Mistakes in 30 Years," airing tonight and tomorrow at 10pm ET on ABC.

Barbara Walters signed on with Sirius back in June, and as part of her deal, will launch a second Sirius show called "Barbara Walters' Best of the Very Best" sometime in 2007.

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Clear Channel in $26.7 billion buyout


Clear ChannelSignficant terrestrial radio news here: Clear Channel has said it has agreed to be acquired by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners for $18.7 billion in cash. The deal carriers a total value of $26.7 billion, including $8 billion in debt repayment.

As part of the sale, Clear Channel has said it will sell 448 radio stations (they currently own a total of 1,150 station).

It's not a done deal yet though. Clear Channel has the right to solicit bids from 3rd parties through December 7th, and has the option to negociate until January 5, 2007.




Spotted: Tenacious D at SIRIUS Satellite Radio


The mighty Tenacious D spent several hours at SIRIUS Satellite Radio's NYC headquarters yesterday.

You'll be able to hear them on November 20th-26th, when they'll provide the "DL" (daily music news) every hour on Alt Nation (ch 21). They'll also play tons of Dio, Sabbath, Nirvana, Ozzy and the soundtrack to their new flick, "The Pick of Destiny" (opening 11/22) when they guest DJ on Octane (ch 20), for a week of November 21st.

Tenacious D 

(from left to right)
Jack Black, José Mangin (Octane channel format manager), and Kyle Gass


XM Canada Reports Q4 and Full-Year Results


XM CanadaXM Canada, aka Canadian Satellite Radio, reported their 4Q and year-end (ending August 31, 2006) financial results. Here's the highlights:

  • XM Canada ended with 120,000 subscribers (including 91,200+ self-paying subscribers) - exceeding previous guidance of 75,000 subs
  • Adjusted Operating Loss for Q4 was $14.4 million; $56.4 million for full-year
  • Q4 revenue increased 46% over Q3 to $3.4 million
  • Full-year revenue was $6.9 million with Adjusted Operating Loss
  • ARPU was $11.78 for Q4
  • SAC was $59 for Q4 (down from $69 in Q3)
  • CPGA was $242 (roughly unchanged from Q3)

Canadian Satellite Radio will hold a conference call today (November 16) at 1pm ET. You can listen online here.

Read the full press release after the jump... 


News Bits for 11-15-2006


Jim Breuer on Web Junk 20News bits for this week's hump day:

  • Google sets aside a $200 million YouTube fund, may need more if Howard Stern calls. [ZDNet Blogs]
  • Sirius vs. XM goes video: Jim Breuer is the new host of VH1's Web Junk 20 - replacing Patrice Oneal. (Breuer hosts a Sirius show, while Oneal is a regular O&A guest and guest-hosted own show on XM). [Press Release]
  • Fox Considers Stern Sidekick Artie Lange for Late-Night Role. [Broadcast Newsroom]
  • 2007 Infinity G35 with XM NavTraffic now available. [Press Release]
  • Microsoft Zune gets dissected (yummy). [Engadget]
  • Uh oh... Apple orders 12 million iPhones. [Red Herring]

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Interviews Jay-Z on XM

Dale Earnhardt Jr on XMDale Earnhardt, Jr. will be interviewing Jay-Z this Thursday, at 7:30pm ET on NASCAR Radio (ch 144) and 10:30 pm ET on XM Sports Nation (ch 143), during his XM Satellite Radio show "Dale Jr. Unrestricted."

Sound bizarre? Sure maybe, until you realize that Earnhardt stars in the video for Jay-Z's single "Show Me What You Got," which features Jay- Z, Earnhardt and Indy superstar Danica Patrick in racing around Monaco.

The two will also talk about music, careers, cars, and the upcoming video for Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down," which features Jay-Z, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, and dozens of other celebrities paying tribute to the legendary Cash.

In addition to that crazy combo of personalities, Earnhardt will take phone calls on Monday, November 20th, the day after the final race of the NASCAR Nextel Series at Homestead- Miami Speedway. If you call 866-250-8535 on Monday evening from 8pm - 9pm ET you can talk to Earnhardt live on NASCAR Radio (highlights will air during his regular weekly show on November 23th).

Watch the video for "Show Me What You Got," starring Jay-Z, Earnhardt Jr, and Danica Patrick after the jump...

Sirius and AAA Team Up


Sirius and AAA
Following yesterday's announcement that Sirius Canada is partnering up with the CAA, it seems that the American counterparts are doing the same.

AAA members can get a 20% discount, free shipping, a free month of service and free activation. The AAA website changes according to what ZIP code you're in, but as far as I can tell this is a nationwide offer.

Check an example destintation link here

Thanks to Steven, Jeff, Peter and everyone else who sent this in!


Satellite Radio Retail Sales Continue to Decline

Satellite Radio Retail SalesNPD Group's October sales data continues to show a consecutive decline in the satellite radio retail channel, when compaired to the same period last year. This is the third month in a row that retail sales are down year-over-year. August was down 3%, September down 12% and now in October retail sales are down 25% industry-wide when compared to the October last year.

The Quick Glance:

  • Sirius October 2006 Retail Sales:
    Down 26% YoY
  • XM October 2006 Retail Sales:
    Down 23% YoY


  • Sirius Oct '06 Retail Marketshare: 56%
  • XM Oct '06 Retail Marketshare: 44%

Looking at purely the numbers, this supports the argument that the satellite radio retail channel has reached it's peak, but that only comparing the year-over-year numbers. Expecting the same - or greater - growth as last year is completely unrealistic. This is also the first time since April that Sirius didn't see better year-over-year growth, percentage wise, than XM. The Stern Effect was in full swing at this time last year, so again it's unrealistic to expect the same growth this year. I don't care what the skeptics say, it's just not possible.

2005 was a breakout year, and ridiculous money was being spent in order to maintain the momentum. This helped growth (gotta spend money to make money). From one side the critics say that satellite radio needs to control costs, from the other they say it needs to add subscribers. The key is finding that sweet spot somewhere in between.

That said, Sirius still expects to bring in more subscribers this Q4 than they did last Q4. They've reiterated their year-end guidance of 6.3M net subscribers, so they're obviously confident that they can pull it off. I'm just not exactly sure how.


Sirius' Holiday Channels (and more)


SIRIUS Holiday MusicDeck the halls this Holiday Season with some special holiday music on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Starting on November 23rd, Thanksgiving Day, you'll be able to enjoy non-stop holiday music on these three Sirius channels:

  • Sirius Holiday on Starlite (ch 2) – Holiday hits mixed with selected traditional favorites as sung by Nat “King” Cole, Paul McCartney, Bing Crosby, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and many more, plus SIRIUS listeners’ holiday messages and greetings from Santa Claus himself.
  • Christmas Country on The Roadhouse (ch 62) – Country music’s biggest stars’ heartfelt versions of holiday favorites, in addition to some newer country holiday songs that are sure to become classics.
  • Classical Christmas on Sirius Pops (ch 86) –Traditional holiday music from the Renaissance to the modern day, including performances of Christmas carols and seasonal classics by the world’s leading orchestras, choirs and opera stars, along with, of course, enduring holiday masterpieces such as Handel’s Messiah and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
Also catch other special Thanksgiving programming including: the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live simulcast 9am-12pm ET on Martha Stewart Living Radio (ch 112); all three Thanksgiving Day NFL matches (home teams on ch 123, visiting teams on ch 125); the Black Friday Special on COSMO Radio (ch 111), November 24th @ 7am ET; and a 24-hour marathon of Whatever with Alexis and Jennifer all day on Martha Radio (ch 112) November 25th.

2007 Nissan Altima gets XM NavTraffic

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2007 Nissan AltimaThe new 2007 Nissan Altima sedan is the first Nissan production vehicle to offer the XM NavTraffic real-time traffic GPS nav-system.

XM NavTraffic is currently available in 44 markets. XM is the exclusive data services provider to Nissan vehicles and will be the exclusive satellite radio service for Nissan beginning with the 2008 model year.

Every 2007 Nissan Altima equipped with XM NavTraffic also comes standard with a three-month complimentary subscription to the service.


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92nd Street Y coming to SIRIUS

92 Street YInterviews, panels, and other events recorded at New York's famed 92nd Street Y will be airing early next year on Sirius Satellite Radio on Sirius Stars (ch 102).

"From New York's 92nd Street Y" will include both new interviews as well as archived conversations since 1949 which years have included presidents, sports figures, actors, writers and musicians -- including Bill Clinton, Katie Couric, John Travolta, Paul McCartney, Henry Kissinger, Jay Leno, Annette Bening and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Founded in 1874 by German-Jewish professionals and businessmen, the 92nd Street Y is a historical cultural institution/community center located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The 92nd Street Y has grown into an organization guided by Jewish principles but serving people of all races and faiths.

[via Variety

Black Friday Watch: Starmate & Boomcube at Radio Shack (Unconfirmed)

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Starmate and Starmate Boomcube Discounts

What you see here are the item list for Radio Shack's Black Friday discounts, but we should consider these as "unconfirmed" since no actual adscan is available yet (and Radio Shack can theoretically change them at anytime).

Anyway, for those who don't want to do the math, Radio Shack will be offering the Starmate Replay for $29.99 (after rebate) and the Starmate Replay Boom Cube for the especially good deal of only $59.99.

[via Deal Taker

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News Bits for 11-14-2006


Samsung BlackjackNews bits for today:

  • The radio industry is spending $1,000 to sell every $300 HD Radio. [Hear 2.0]
  • Directed Electronics' gross satellite radio sales were $28.6 million for 3Q06 - an increase of 76.0% over 3Q05. [Press Release]
  • Cingular releases new Samsung BlackJack smart phone featuring XM Radio Mobile. [LAPTOP Review]
  • Horizon Air chooses XM WX for their fleet. [Aero-News]
  • College paper feels that Sirius' Scott Greenstein doesn't care about college kids (worth the read just for the silly interview). [The Daily Texan]

Is WorldSpace Doomed?


WorldSpace Satellite RadioWorldSpace recently released their 3Q06 results and quite frankly, they stink. All the key metrics (subs, churn, ARPU, etc) came in lower than expected, and their net loss nearly doubled in the prior-year quarter ($28.9 million vs $15.4 million).

The big news is that WorldSpace has hired UBS to "evaluate strategic partnership alternatives" that "may enhance shareholder value and further the execution of our business plan." Guess what, it's a move that's absolutely necessary. They need to leverage that infrastructure for a serious cash infusion, and do it quick. It can't come soon enough. (Psst, why do you think Gary Parsons resigned from their board?)

Seth Jayson at The Motley Fool seems to think that WorldSpace is doomed. Noting that automobile use is something that WorldSpace simply can't do yet, as indicated in their annual report. They first need to add terrestrial repeaters and a next-gen of receivers able to receive both terrestrial and satellite signal. Hence why those repeaters in Italy were so important.

So one of the key drivers of growth, OEM distribution, is currently out of reach for WorldSpace. And they're burning cash much faster than they can make it. Not to mention the regulatory hurdles with 130 countries to deal with. Not good. Seth poignently ends his article with, "if WorldSpace isn't bankrupt within two years, I'll buy one of those Indian receivers myself."

Can't say I disagree. Here's my verdict:

Thanks John! 


Upcoming XM Channel Updates


XM Radio HanukkahIt appears there's one more Holiday channel coming down the pipe, in addition to what was previously announced.

A recently published channel guide (PDF) shows XM channel 108 - entitled Radio Hanukkah. Further details include that Radio Hanukkah will air from December 15th through December 23rd. I only wonder why XM didn't announce this at the same time as the other Holiday channels? Curious.

The VirusAdditionally, the channel guide shows the renaming of High Voltage 202 to The Virus. But who cares about Opie & Dopie anyway. 

Thanks to everyone who sent this in! 


Sirius Canada Partners with Canadian Automobile Association


Canadian Automobile AssociationSIRIUS Canada has partnered with the CAA (Canadian Automobile Association - the Canadian equivalent to AAA). Through the CAA's Show Your Card & Save program members get access to incentives and offers on Sirius Satellite Radio products and services.

The CAA is has 4.9 million members, all of who can now receive up to 20% off their satellite radios, savings on subscription and accessories, extended on-line listening trials and no activation fees when they make their purchase at SIRIUS' on-line store.


Report: Nearly 13% of Stern Fans Have Subscribed to Sirus


According to a recent Bridge Ratings study, 12.8% of Howard Stern's terrestrial radio fan base have converted over to Sirius Satellite Radio. Bridge estimates that's a total of 1,530,758 subscribers.

Bridge also feels that 20% of his original terrestrial radio audience were his most loyal fans, and are the most likely to convert to Sirius (makes sense). So using those numbers, Sirius has roughly 7.2% of his "most loyal" fans left - a group that I assume they'll pursue this Holiday season.

Converting 1.53 million ain't too shabby, but that doesn't prevent the NAB's favorite publication Inside Radio from spinning it to say that Stern's "impact is lessening." Of course it's lessening, there's a finite number of hardcore fans out there (and we're only talking about 20% of his audience - the other 80% are familiar with Stern, and as such, Sirius). Take a look at this graph to see The Stern Effect in action:

The Stern Effect 

Now tell me if adding over 300,000 retail subscribers a month can be realistically maintained. No? Then it's lessening. Isn't that crazy? Note to the people at Inside Radio: if want to know something that's lessening, try looking at your status as a legitimate media publication first.

[Bridge Ratings


Black Friday Watch: Pioneer Inno at CompUSA

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Pioneer Inno DiscountIf you thought Best Buy was the only place to find a Pioneer Inno for under $200, think again. CompUSA has deep discounted the Inno as well.

CompUSA is offering the Pioneer Inno for $199.99 after savings and XM rebate. That's $100 off of their original price.

UPDATE: As a commenter has pointed out - the Best Buy deal does include the extras (car kit, pre-paid XM card, and antenna headphones). I forgot about those - so Best Buy still has the killer deal.

[via BFads]

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Black Friday Watch: Samsung Nexus at CompUSA

Discounted Samsung NexusMore Black Friday discounts.

Here's the Samsung Nexus 25 for $59.99 after rebate. If you want to upgrade to the Samsung Nexus 50, it's only $69.99 after rebate.

It may not be as good a deal as Circuit City's Nexus discount, but still not a bad deal at all. 

[via BFads]

Black Friday Watch: XM Sportscaster at CompUSA

Discounted XM Sportscaster

And the discounts continue from CompUSA.

Here's the XM Sportscaster for $9.99 after rebate. This includes free activation and free 1st month of service. Incredible.

[via BFads]

Black Friday Watch: XACT Visor XTR3 at CompUSA

Discounted XACT Visor XTR3

More Black Friday deep discounts on satellite radios. This one's coming from CompUSA.

Here's the XACT Visor XTR3 Sirius Satellite Radio receiver for an incredible $9.99 after rebate.

[via BFads]

Eddie Trunk returns to XM's Boneyard

XM BoneyardLegendary rock DJ Eddie Trunk will be returning to XM Satellite Radio starting on Monday, December 4th.

The New York rock radio icon will host a weekly show, "Eddie Trunk Live" on XM's Boneyard (ch 41) live every Monday from 6-10pm ET from XM’s New York studios. Self-proclaimed "Metal God" and former Judas Priest front-man Rob Halford is the scheduled guest for the show's debut.

Eddie Trunk previously hosted a show on XM's Boneyard, but was not heard on the air after a controversial interview with Mike Piazza. While we don't know the details surrounding why he left - he's back now.

Jimmy Johnson Hosting Special XM Call-In Show


Jimmy JohnsonJimmy Johnson, the current Nextel Cup points leader, is hosting a special call-in edition of his weekly XM Satellite Radio show in advance of the final race of the season on Sunday. The live call-in show airs tomorrow morning from 11am to 12 noon ET/8am to 9 am PT on XM's NASCAR Radio (ch 144).

Talk to Johnson and his co-host Marty Smith during the show at 866-250-8535. Jimmie and Marty will also be answering e-mails sent to jimmiejohnson@xmradio.com.

Highlights of Jimmie's Tuesday call-in show will air during "Jimmie Johnson ... Not What You Expected" this Thursday on NASCAR Radio at 7pm ET and XM Sports Nation (ch 143) at 10pm ET. 

Jimmie Johnson, who has never won a Cup championship, now is in the position to win in the Chase for the Nextel Cup at Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


SoundExchange "Study" Causes a Snore


SoundExchange issued a press release on Friday announcing the findings of a recent "study" of theirs. The purpose of the study is to find out... whether music is important to satellite radio. Yes folks, someone actually spent money on this. Are you ready for the amazing stats? Here goes:

43% of respondents said they would cancel if their satellite radio service didn't have any music (OMG!). 53% said they that music is the most critical programming factor (OMG!). People spent nearly half their time listening to music (OMFG!). And, hold on to your hats, the respondents on average would not pay the full $12.95/month for satellite if it didn't have music (OMFGROFLMAO!).

The purpose to this press release is obvious and the ulterior motive is completely transparent. As a result, this release hasn't (and won't) get any traction in the media. Nope, nothing. Sorry guys, try again (or try offering a realistic deal).


XM's The Rhyme Celebrating Snoop Dogg's New Album

Snoop Dogg: Tha Blue Carpet TreatmentXM is celebrating "Dogg-vember" all month long with special music and world premieres of Snoop Dogg’s XM show "Welcome to da Chuuch" - all to coincide with the release of Snoop Dogg’s new album, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment.

XM will debut two all new episodes of "Welcome to da Chuuch" starting this Friday, November 17th at 11pm ET and the following Friday, November 24th on The Rhyme (ch 65). Each episode will feature a sneak peek of select songs from Tha Blue Carpet Treatment as well as guest interviews with album collaborators. You can also catch a "Chuuch" marathon every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6pm ET during the month of November.

The Rhyme has also ordained the week of the album’s release as "Westsiiiiide Week" - playing west-coast hip hop all week long including interviews with top Cali rap artists.

Snoop Dogg's Tha Blue Carpet Treatment hits the streets on November 21st. Fo' shizzle.

Black Friday Watch: Delphi Roady XT at Staples


RoadyXT at StaplesOn Black Friday, Staples has the Delphi Roady XT plug-and-play receiver for $49.99.

Which, uhh... isn't really that great of a deal.

But you're now the informed consumer, and knowledge is half the battle.



Video: Chrysler/Sirius Commercials

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The boys over at Jalopnik are providing the hookup for the Chrysler/Sirius co-branded TV ads.

Personally I like the Dodge Nitro ad the best (though I lust after a Wrangler Unlimited). The Aspen ad is humorous, and I understand Tony Hawk is in the Wrangler Unlimited ad - but the Nitro ad is just more effective in capturing my attention. But hey, that's just me. Watch for yourself - they're all pretty good.

Dodge Nitro "Parking Space" commercial:

The other two are available for your viewing pleasure after the jump... 

[via Jalopnik]

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Black Friday Watch: Samsung Nexus at Circuit City

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Samsung Nexus at Circuit City

The ad says it all. A Samsung Nexus for only $29.99. That's after the XM $50 mail-in rebate and $50 instant savings. The model number is hard to see, but it reads "YPX5X" which is for the Nexus 25 ("YPX5Z" would be for Nexus 50).

[via Black Friday Home]

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Black Friday Watch: Starmate Replay + Boomcube at Circuit City

Starmate at Circuit CityMore Black Friday goodness at Circuit City.

Here we find the Sirius Starmate Replay with car kit, plus the Sirius Boomcube - all for $99.99.

The Boomcube alone costs about that price.

[via Black Friday Home]

Black Friday Watch: Delphi SkyFi2 + Boombox at Circuit City

Delphi SkyFi2 at Circuit CityThe Black Friday deal tracking continue.

This time at Circuit City we have the Delphi SkyFi2 with car kit, plus the Delphi Audio System, for just $99.99. According to the flyer, that's a total saving of $180.

[via Black Friday Home

Rising Interest in Satellite Radio from College-Age Consumers


CollegeA recent report by Bridge Ratings has indicated that foot traffic is on the rise for satellite radio retailers. Great news, but the even bigger bit of info is the increasing interest coming from the college crowd.

So what's is causing the rising interest in this demographic?

Here's the data points: 57% of college-age shoppers would prefer a portable satellite radio, 27% would prefer in-car systems while an additional 16% have no preference at all. The question in my mind is: what's the definition of "portable" and "in-car" when the interviews are presented?

"Portable" satellite radios are sometimes used to describe "transportable" or "plug-and-play" units, while "in-car" can be considered an in-dash headunit. But for those outside of the biz, a "portable" could be an Inno/Stiletto style unit, while an "in-car" unit could be a plug-and-play (since that's where they're primarily used). I wish Bridge would clarify this, because it's an important differentiation.

Still the "on-the-go" versus the "in-car" preference could indicate several things. One being that Gen Y doesn't see being tied-down as an option. Why get a device if it's not going to be portable? Another consideration is that this age group may not have cars (campus life doesn't always require one). Or even that they consider in-vehicle listening to be a secondary function for music experience (personal listening being the leading). Hell, I listen to my iPod in the car, why wouldn't I want a portable satellite radio? The possibilities are endless.

In terms of interest, Sirius is kicking ass among college kids. Breaking down the age groups further shows that 18-19 year-olds favor Sirius (67%) to XM (33%), while 20-21 year-olds favor Sirius (52%) to XM (48%) by a much smaller margin.

This is interesting in itself. It shows that Sirius has a clear advantage in terms of awareness in this group, no doubt led by Stern. The different programming initiatives by each company most likely have a different effect on appealing to college-age consumers as well.

But what I don't understand is why the spread evens out so severly as they get older.

[Bridge Ratings]


WiMAX vs. Satellite Radio

WiMAXThe WCS Coalition, a group including Sprint Nextel, BellSouth, NextWave, AT&T, Comcast and the WCA, complained to the FCC that Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio should not be allowed to continue operating unauthorized and over-powered terrestrial repeaters in the 2 GHz band.

The group argue that XM and Sirius need to address interference problems from satellite radio terrestrial repeaters that are transmitting at higher-than-authorized levels and operating without authorizations.

In an FCC filing, the WCS Coalition said that the FCC needs to adopt rules "that provide for reasonable coexistence of WCS and DARS in the United States."

Recall that XM lowered or turned off repeaters that were operating above or outside the authorized levels in early October. Shortly afterwards Sirius shut down 11 repeaters that were operating outside of specified levels. The rhetoric from the wireless broadband industry has been much more aggressive since these filings.

[more on RCRNews

Sirius and Chrysler Launch Co-Branded TV Ad Campaign

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
Chrysler has launched a new TV ad campaign that highlight Sirius Satellite Radio in three of their newest vehicles. The three 30-second spots feature the 2007 Chrysler Aspen, the 2007 Dodge Nitro and the 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (which features skateboard legend Tony Hawk).

The ads debut on network and cable television today.

Descriptions of each of the ads are available after after the jump...

XM Signs DBL Distributing as a National Preferred Distributor

That's the SkyFi3XM has signed on DBL Distributing as a National Preferred Distributor for XM Satellite Radio.

DBL is one of the largest consumer electronics distributors with a network of over 30,000 dealers under it's wing. This deal will provide them all with access to a large selection of XM products, subscriber activation commissions and order management tools provided by DBL.

Eligible dealers get access to DBL's online account management tool which lets dealers view orders and ship dates, account activation status and commission payment status; all in real-time.

FMQB Gets Up Close with Tim Sabean, PD of Sirius' Howard Stern Channels

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Tim SabeanYet another great e-QB special from FMQB, this time around the e-QB features an interview with Tim Sabean (the Program Director for Sirius' Howard Stern channels).

Howard fans, and others alike, will find this interview a good read. It not only captures the excitment behind working on Howard's channels, but the level of opportunities that satellite radio presents for creative-types.

Questions range from the biggest challenges in going from terrestrial to satellte; to working with strong personalities; to Pete Townshend walking off the show; to the creation of The Bitter Half - it's a great interview and must-read.


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XM Awarded Three 2007 CES Innovations Awards

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XM CES Awards
Not to be forgotten, three XM products also won the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Innovations Design and Engineering Awards.

The Delphi SkyFi3 satellite radio, the XM Mini-Tuner, and the XM-Ready Bushnell Weather Tracker GPS were among the Innovations 2007 Honorees selected by an independent panel of engineers, designers and journalists.

The SkyFi3 and XM Mini-Tuner were honored in the Mobile Audio category, and the XM-Ready Bushnell was recognized in the Wireless Peripherals category.

We're already pretty familiar with the SkyFi3 and XM Mini-Tuner, but the Bushnell Weather Tracker may be a bit of a mystery to some (myself included). The Bushnell ONIX400CR Weather Tracker GPS is a portable handheld device that offers XM Radio, XM WX Satellite Weather, and GPS all in one fancy device - and that's about all we know. More to come on that one soon.
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Black Friday Watch: Samsung NeXus at Sears


Black Friday Deal for NeXus at SearsThe Samsung NeXus 25 XM Satellite Radio/MP3 player will be available at Sears (and heavily discounted) on both Black Friday and Saturday for an incredible final price of $49.99.

That's after an instant $30 savings and a $50 mail-in rebate.

Yes, that's a NeXus for $50.

You can view the full Black Friday Sears catalog here (PDF) - warning: it's pretty big and the only satellite radio featured is pictured to the right.

UPDATE: As a commenter has pointed out, the Nexus 25 is already available for $50 after rebate (note: TheRadioPlace is an Orbitcast sponsor).


SIRIUS Awarded Five Honors From 2007 CES Innovations Design & Engineering Awards

Sirius gets honors for CES
Five SIRIUS products have been selected as honorees for the 2007 International CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards. The SIRIUS Stiletto 100, Stiletto Antenna Headset, SIRIUS Conductor, Sportster 4 and the SiriusConnect Home have been recognized as products that reflect advancements in consumer technology design and engineering.
Congrats Sirius!

XM's Holiday Channels


Ho Ho HoXM Satellite Radio is (once again) offering dedicated holiday music channels - a total of five channels in a variety of seasonal style - during the upcoming holiday season.

Here's the lineup:

  • Holly (XM 103) – Available start November 13th at 12 midnight ET - December 25th. Features contemporary holiday hits mixed with selected traditional favorites
  • Holiday Traditions (XM 104) – Available beginning November 23rd at 12 midnight ET - December 25th. Features traditional holiday recordings from the 1940s through the 1960s
  • A Nashville Christmas (XM 105) – Available beginning November 23rd at 12 midnight ET - December 25th. Features contemporary and traditional holiday hits from popular country music artists
  • A Classical Christmas (XM 106) – Available beginning November 23rd at 12 midnight ET - December 25th. Features traditional holiday carols performed by celebrated classical music artists
  • Special X-Mas (XM 107) – Available beginning November 23rd at 12 midnight ET - December 25th. Features a mix of holiday novelty songs, oddball parodies, and rock covers of holiday classics

Details on XM's Holiday 2006 channel lineup will be available on their website soon.

Source: XM Satellite Radio 


Soloist Wins 2007 CES Innovations Award

Sirius Soloist
The Directed Electronics Soloist Universal Sound System will be honored with the Innovations Award at the 2007 CES show in January.

The Soloist includes interchangeable cradles to dock different SIRIUS receivers that use the universal connector (like the Starmate4, Sportster4, and of course the Stiletto) not to mention docking support for the iPod. The Soloist comes with a SIRIUS home antenna, remote and MSRP's at $149.

Soloist also uses a patented "SurfaceSound" flat panel technology by NXT(R), and is powered by a 20 watt Tripath amplifier. It comes with front panel AUX IN and headphone jacks, rear panel AUX IN and OUT, rear panel USB port, and a built-in alarm clock with snooze button, which can wake the user to their favorite SIRIUS station or iPod song.

Orbitcast will be doing a hands-on review of the Soloist as soon. 

Sirius Applies for Repeaters in Hawaii and Alaska


Sirius coming to Alaska and Hawaii?Sirius Satellite Radio has filed an application with the FCC (PDF) to install four new repeater towers in the states of Alaska and Hawaii.

This is the first time that a satellite radio company has expressed serious interest in covering areas outside of the continental United States. Each repeater is expected to be under 2000 watts of power, so the WCS theoretically shouldn't have an issue with it.

Below are the proposed repeater location:

  • Anchorage, AK
  • Fairbanks, AK
  • Juneau, AK
  • Honolulu, HI 

[View FCC Application via Satellite Radio TechWorld


Black Friday Watch: Sirius Sportster Replay at Best Buy


Sportster at Best BuyContinuing with the Black Friday coverage, Best Buy is also offering discounts for Sirius.

Here you'll see the Sirius Sportster Replay being offered for only $49.99. That's a savings of $100 off according to the Best Buy ad (pictured). Now mind you - this isn't the Sportster4 - but instead the previous generation Sportster of yesteryear.

Still, the $50 price point is a key one.

[via BlackFriday.info]


Black Friday Watch: Pioneer Inno Discounted at Best Buy


Pioneer Inno at Best BuyIt's nearing that crucial Holiday Shopping season again. Black Friday, and the online-shopping wannabe Cyber Monday, are not only big money makers for retailers - but also days of incredible bargins not found any other time of the year.

In an effort to follow this, Orbitcast will be featuring any and all Black Friday related discounts and deals - on satellite radio devices. If you've found a Black Friday deal, shoot me an email and let me know. It's sure to get exposure.

First up, is Best Buy.

Best Buy has the Pioneer Inno, with a $30 pre-paid XM service card, antenna headphone and the Inno car kit - all for $199.99. According to the ad (pictured) that's a total of $239.98 worth of savings.

[BlackFriday.info via XM411]

UPDATE: There's been a lot of inquiries regarding this ad. As far as I know, there's a $50 rebate included in this price that is for new XM subscribers only. Also, the price drop appears to be coming soley from Best Buy - so have fun camping out with the soccer moms.


XM Wins Popular Science's "Best of What's New 2006" Awards

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InnoXM Satellite Radio has scored big in Popular Science's Best of Whats New 2006 Awards.

First the Pioneer Inno, which won in the Gadgets category, alongside the Sony Reader PRS-500 which won the Grand Award for the category. Then the XM Mini-Tuner won in the Home Entertainment category, alongside Grand Award winner the Nintendo Wii.

The Innovator of the Year award was given to... a nail (though, the Bostich HurriQuake nail is one badass nail).

The annual Best of What's New awards recognize breakthrough products and technologies that represent a significant leap forward in categories ranging from Auto Tech to Personal Health. A display of the Best of What's New is available to passers by in NYC's Grand Central Terminal. Watch a video highlighting the Grand Central display here (RealPlayer).

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An In-Depth Look at Gross Subscriber Numbers


Now that the numbers are out, let's take a look at gross subscriber additions between both Sirius and XM.

Looking at gross subscriber additions is a more accurate way of looking at the trending of the industry and gives a better feel of the pulse of the market. It eliminates factors like churn, which as the subscriber base for each service increase, creates the illusion that industry growth has slowed. Yes, net subscriber additions are extremely important and are in fact the "true" indicator of growth, but gross gives us a look into market penetration.

So with explainations out of the way, let look at it shall we? For the 3rd quarter of 2006, here's how gross subscriber additions stacked up:

SIRIUS Gross Subscribers: 732,406
XM Gross Subscribers: 868,007

Now since we're talking about trending, let's take a historical look at gross subscriber additions per quarter, starting from the beginning of 2005:

Sirius and XM Gross Subscriber Additions 

Here's the data:

1Q05 2Q05 3Q05 4Q05 1Q06 2Q06 3Q06
Sirius 354,708 432,687 465,228 1,266,674 960,610 830,571 732,406
821,631 945,885 989,045 1,373,876 1,007,306 926,281 868,007


Of particular interest is how 2006 is trending. We all expected the spike in 4Q05, but since then it's been nothing but downhill. Ignoring the 4th quarter, let's look at the same periods in 2005 - there was nothing but growth. This is all the more reason why managing churn needs to be high on the priority list for both companies.

It's also a good thing that both companies have saved up their marketing cash for a big pop this quarter... the 4th quarter is going to need it.


Karmazin on Sirius/XM Merger: "We will be looking to kick their ass... we are competitors."


Mel KarmazinDuring today's earnings call, Bear Stearns Analyst Robert Peck asked Mel Karmazin about what he felt was the "pulse" about the potential merger between XM and Sirius, and whether it's a feasible situation.

Mel Karmazin poignently responded that while there would be a "good amount of value creation" in the case of the merger, he really has nothing further to talk to about it.That's not to be taken as a positive, or a negative - just that there's nothing to say.

Karmazin continued:

"You should assume that we will be looking to kick their [XM's] ass, in the fourth quarter," Karmazin added, "...and they're looking to do the same to us. We are competitors."

Talk about not mincing words.

Hopefully that sends a clear message (to Jim Cramer particularly) that Sirius and XM are wholeheartedly locked in a battle for marketshare against each other.


Live Blogging SIRI 3Q06 Earnings Call


I'm live blogging SIRIUS Satellite Radio's 3Q06 Earnings Call today.

Keep refreshing to view updates.

  • Mel Karmazin is joined by Jim Meyer, Scott Greenstein with David Frear handling financials.
  • Mel handling opening remarks


SIRIUS Satellite Radio Releases Third Quarter 2006 Results

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SiriusSirius Satellite Radio has released their 3Q06 results.

Here's the highlights:

  • End of year subscriber guidance has been reiterated at 6.3 Million
  • Revenue was $167.1 million for 3Q06 - up 150% from the same period last year
  • Net loss for 3Q06 was $162.9 million - or $0.12/share - compared to $180.4 million (or $0.14/share) in the same period last year. (Analysts expected a loss of $0.14/share)
  • SAC decreased to $114 - down 23% from $149 in the same period last year
  • ARPU was $11.17 compared with $11.15 in the same period last year
  • Churn was 2.0% in 3Q06, compared with 1.8% in the same period last year
  • Sirius ended 3Q06 with 5,119,308 subscribers
Sirius' 3Q06 Earnings call is scheduled for 8am today. As with XM's call, Orbitcast will be Live Blogging the event, so if you're not able to tune in check back here for the details during the call.
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New Sirius InV Plug-and-Play Receiver


Sirius InV
Introducing the Sirius InV SV2-TK1. It actually hasn't been officially announced by Sirius yet, but here's the full details and info on it anyway. The Sirius InV appears to be the next generation of the Sirius One SV1 serving as Sirius' bargin-priced unit.

Regardless of price it features a 3-line display (artist, title, channel), 10 channel presets, one-touch Jump Button, parental controls, 100-channel built in wireless FM transmitter and a real time clock.

The Sirius InV actually looks similar to the new Sirius Stratus, but unlike the Stratus the InV will not support Sirius' new universal docking architecture (you'll need to plug in the wires like the old-school Sirius plug-and-play receivers).

The Sirius InV SV2-TK1 will MSRP for $49.99.


Where are XM's New Gadgets?


No XM Gadgets?It's early November, and the only new XM receiver we've seen is the SkyFi3. And after yesterday's earnings call, we now know that nothing else is planned until CES.

Odd. Last year XM held the XMas In August event which showcased the upcoming devices of the year. Lots of hype. Lots of buzz. Yet, amidst all the fun stuff, there was disappointments. The Samsung Nexus was delayed. The Dell XM/MP3 player never came to fruition.

This year, the last press event (that I've known of) was back when the Inno was unveiled. That was in Spring.

No events. No fanfare. The SkyFi3 got it's announcement, but no coming out party. So what happened?

It sounds like the hammer of Nate Davis has come down, and in an effort to control costs, the product development cycle has been lengthened. Less focus on that expensive R&D for devices that really don't provide the lionshare of sales anyway, shifted focus towards marketing. That's my assumption anyway.

So the early adopters will have to continue on with only the Inno. Meanwhile Sirius has released a myriad of new plug-and-play units, not to mention the Stiletto. The Inno was introduced in early summer, so it's had enough time on the shelves to get that early adopter exposure. Now XM can discount it for the Holidays. Competitive move or forced circumstances?

Whatever the reason, it's a bit disappointing, especially for websites like this where we go ga-ga over new gadgets. Maybe they won't provide astronomical sales, but c'mon - they're fun. Yet in the ultimate goal of profitability, would you mind a couple geeks crying?

Sure, why not... we'll still be waiting here pining away.


XM Announces Nominees for the XM Nation Awards


XM Nation AwardsNominees for the Second Annual XM Nation Award have been announced.

Nominated by XM’s programming staff with categories ranging from "dream collaborations" to "the best comeback of the year," the XM Nation Awards honor some of the most talented, emerging and established recording artists in the industry.

Online voting is open until 12 midnight ET on December 4th. You can also text the word "AWARDS" to 96966 to vote on your cell.

A new feature this year: you can write in your choice for some categories, plus submit names for the artist they would most like to see host their own XM show.

XM will announce the winners for the XM Nation Awards on December 11th - listen to the results on the air on New Years Day on XM 200.

Check out a list of categories (they're actually pretty funny) and the nominees for each after the jump...


SIRIUS Taps Daniel Norwood and Paul Pabst To Oversee NASCAR Programming

NASCAR on SiriusSIRIUS has tapped Daniel Norwood and Paul Pabst as the Executive Producers of SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, which is launching on SIRIUS in 2007. They both report to Steve Cohen, SIRIUS' Vice President of Sports Programming.

Norwood, formerly the executive producer of Primetime with the Packman on WFNZ Radio in Charlotte, and Pabst, formerly of ESPN for six years, will be responsible for creating and overseeing the day to day operation of SIRIUS' new NASCAR channel. The 24/7 channel will air live races, including all NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races; and daily and weekly talk programs, including Tony Stewart Live.

Gizmodo Reviews the Sirius Stiletto (and it ain't pretty)


StilettoThe boys at Gizmodo got their filthy little hands on a Sirius Stiletto and have written up a detailed review for your reading consumption.

It should be pointed out ahead of time that the reviewer is completely bias. Travis at Gizmodo regularly appears on Covino & Rich on SIRIUS' Maxim Radio (ch 108), and makes it no secret that he's a hardcore Sirius fanboy.

But it's with this knowledge that his review is even more surprising. It's only a few days ago that CNET gave the Stiletto a whopping 8.0 rating, yet Gizmodo's own review was none too stellar. In fact, it's been filed away into the "overpriced p.o.s." category - youch. This from a fanboy?

Funny enough, the basics between CNET and Gizmodo are the same: odd shape and somewhat bulky, poor reception without the dorky headphones, battery life is disappointing, yet beautifully done interface, and WiFi support for 802.11b. 

The difference seems that Gizmodo focused more on the reception, portability and actual usability of the device - and obviously, was disappointed. The question in my mind is: is this an inherent problem with the Stiletto? or with satellite radio portables in general? I haven't had the chance to review the Stiletto yet, so I can't answer that.



News Bits for 11-06-2006


Zune vs iPodNews bits for this Manic Monday:

  • NAVTEQ buys Traffic.com [Reuters]
  • HD Radio arrives in Circuit City; gets 75,000 ads per week [CNET]
  • NVIDIA buys PortalPlayer (chipmaker behind the iPod video and SanDisk Sansa e200). [Engadget]
  • Even Cramer's guest hosts are touting a SIRIUS + XM merger (enough already) [RealMoney Radio]
  • Zune vs. iPod (size does matter) [Gizmodo]
  • Automotive PCs are coming (it would be smart to partner with them, now, before it's too late) [USA Today]
  • XM's Q3 2006 Earnings Call Transcript [SeekingAlpha]

100 Niches, of 1 Million each

this is a satelliteThis article beautifully illustrates how satellite radio's strategy differs from terrestrial radio's.

Terrestrial must cater to the mass market (albeit a geo-targeted market) because they are an ad-driven model. Wherever the advertising dollars go, the radio stations must follow or suffer the consequences. This is why we're seeing the rapid growth of hispanic-language radio stations in major metropolitan markets.

But satellite is not influenced by advertisers to this degree. Satellite radio has the freedom to cater to more specific niches, and lots of them. Nationwide.

While terrestial seeks to find a niche that appeals to 100 million people; satellite radio instead provides a 100+ niches that each appeal to 1 million people. Welcome to The Long Tail in action.

XM to Roll Out new TV Ad Campaign

XM's "ON" CampaignXM Satellite Radio is launching a new ad campaign this month that links the XM brand to music featured in prime-time network shows. The ads (considered "first-of-a-kind" and "groundbreaking" according to MediaWeek) will air immediately after select shows as a 10-second embedded bumper that says: "If you enjoyed the music on tonight's show, you can hear more music like this on XM Channel X."

Starting on November 19th, the ads will air on three episodes of CBS' Cold Case, at least two episodes of NBC's Las Vegas, on two episodes on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, as well as on 4-6 times on VH1, VH1 Classics and CMT.

Music is an integrated part of programs like these, and XM's 10-second spot will be geared to appear as an integral part of the show as well. Think of it as product-placement but with music. Fans of the music played will be more receptive to the message.

The branded content campaign also dovetails with XM's new 30-second spot ad campaign, that broke last month.


Chess coming to SIRIUS


Marshall ChessNo, not the game, that would be boring. Marshall Chess, from the Chess family who founded the Chicago blues music record label Chess Records, has signed with SIRIUS to host a new weekly blues music program.

"The Chess Records Hour" will air each Sunday at 12pm ET (encores: Tuesday at 5pm ET) on SIRIUS Blues (ch 74).

Featuring classic Chess recordings and stories from the heyday of the Chicago blues scene, Marshall Chess will share his knowledge of the music that played an important role in rock and roll history.

Chess grew up working in the independent record business alongside his father, Leonard Chess, and uncle, Phil Chess, founders of Chess Records, and later served as its president. He also formed Rolling Stones Records and ran it for seven years, among other labels and film projects he’s been involved with over the years.

Chess also served as a producer on albums by such legendary artists as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Fleetwood Mac and Otis Spann, and Minnie Riperton, among others.


SIRI and XMSR Looking at Year-End Rally?

Satellite RadioIs there a rally looming for both satellite radio stocks?

Some observers are commenting that the renegotiations over music royalities, and the accompaning uncertainty, are keeping investors at bay. But the decision for this is likely to take upwards of 18 months to resolve, so for the short-term it's pretty much a non-issue.

Citigroup analyst Eileen Furukawa is bullish on both XMSR and SIRI, arguing that so much bad news has been factored into each that they are due for a rally, especially into the holiday season.

"We are currently forecasting the satellite (radio) industry to grow from 9 million subscribers at year-end 2005 to 51 million subscribers by year-end 2015," Furukawa said.

Additionally, according to a research report by American Technology Research analyst Rob Sanderson: "Both stocks have been exceptionally poor performers. While we do not see a turn in weak fundamentals in the near-term, we think both stocks may be candidates for a year-end bounce."

Sanderson said as fund managers try and unload their worst performing stocks to offset capital gains taxes, poor-performing stocks historically see solid gains in the following months.

"Investors are bottom fishing," he said in a telephone interview with Forbes. "A lot of times you see a bit of a rally at the end of the year."

Live Blogging XMSR 3Q06 Earnings Call


I'm live blogging XM Satellite Radio's 3Q06 Earnings Call today.

Keep refreshing to view updates.

  • Conference call introduced by Joe Titlebaum
  • Handed over to Hugh Panero - introduces XM service and history

XM Satellite Radio Releases Third Quarter 2006 Results


XMXM Satellite Radio has released their 3Q06 results.

Here's the highlights:

  • End of year subscriber guidance has been updated to be between 7.7 million and 7.9 million
  • Revenue was roughly $240 million - up 57% from $153 million in 3Q05
  • Net loss for 3Q06 was $84 million - compared to $132 million in 3Q05 - a 36% improvement
  • SAC was $60 compared to $53 in 3Q05
  • CPGA was $93 compared to $89 in 3Q05
  • Gross subscriber adds were at 868,007 with net subscribers being 286,002
  • XM finished the third quarter with a total of 7,185,873 subscribers - 43% higher than the same period a year ago
  • Oh, and net loss was $83.8 million, or 32 cents a share, down from a loss of $131.9 million, or 60 cents a share, a year earlier (far smaller than the 43 cents per share expected by analysts)
That's quite a wide spread between gross subscribers and net subscribers. XM's conference call is set for 10am ET today - I will be Live Blogging the event, so if you're not able to tune in check back here for the details during the call.

No Satellite Radio in Canadian Satellite TV

CanadaThe CRTC issued a decision that prevents Sirius Satellite Radio or XM Satellite Radio from being included in Canadian satellite television broadcasts.

The ruling concluded that Sirius and XM were not traditional program offerings therefore the ExpressVu and Star Choice Satellite TV providers are not authorized to distribute them.

Back in March, the CRTC received a letter from the CBC stating that they had learned that one or both of the satellite television companies were considering distributing satellite radio services to their subscribers. The CBC argued that such distribution was not permissible under current rules.

Interestingly enough, the CBC is partnered with Sirius Canada.

ExpressVu expressed the view that the current Canadian broadcast current rules do not apply in this case, because the satellite radio services were a "programming undertaking" and not a new type of broadcasting undertaking. ExpressVu then asked the commission for a ruling on the issue.

The ruling (CRTC 2006-615) said that XM and Sirius were licensed as a satellite subscription radio undertaking and were not a programming undertaking, therefore ExpressVu and Star Choice do not have the authority to distribute them. Sorry Canada.

[Digital Home Canada]

Opie & Anthony in FHM


Opie and Anthony in FHMOpie and Anthony are featured in the December issue of FHM magazine. Jim Norton and the cast of regular comedians who frequent the show are featured as well.

Note that XM gets the plug from FHM in this case, whereas the terrestrial stations they're on are only described as "stations across the country."

There's some benefits - especially in terms of marketing - to being a national medium.



CNET Reviews the Delphi SkyFi3


SkyFi3CNET also got the opportunity to review the Delphi SkyFi3 a week or so ago, and gave it a 7.3 (out of 10) rating. There's also a video review you can watch here.

While CNET liked the big display and microSD card option, they felt that the build quality felt a bit cheap. They also commented on the large tactile buttons which is great for the car.

Highlights -

The good: The Delphi SkyFi3 is a competitively priced plug-and-play satellite radio receiver/recorder. It can pause and replay programming up to 30 minutes, is lightweight and easy to use, and includes a large and legible screen. It plays back digital audio files via the expansion slot and can be used while afoot with optional antenna headphones. It includes a car kit and a remote control.

The bad: The Delphi SkyFi3 has a budget build quality, with a monochrome screen with no channel graphics and no built-in antenna, so you must use optional headphones for true portability. It lacks a Micro SD card, has subpar rated battery life, and can't store your own digital audio files on internal memory. It has a substandard FM transmitter and charging the device over USB isn't guaranteed.

[CNET Editors' Review]


CNET Reviews the Sirius Stiletto 100


Sirius Stiletto on Home DockCNET had the lucky opportunity to review the Sirius Stiletto, and overall they gave it an 8.0 (out of 10) rating. That's not a bad rating, especially since this is Sirius' first attempt at a live portable.

Read the review (plus video) for yourself.

While CNET found the Stiletto "intriguing" and packed with features, they also found it to be bulky and weren't impressed with the battery life. Also on the video, they refer to the antenna-headphones to be "kind of dorky" and "very uncomfortable." They loved the interface though.

Highlights -

The good: The Sirius Stiletto 100 can stream online content via built-in Wi-Fi, record live satellite songs, and be used as an MP3/WMA player with subscription compatibility. You can pause and replay live streams, the GUI is intuitive and fun to use, the main controller is well designed, and it comes with two batteries.

The bad: The Sirius Stiletto 100 design is a bit chunky; you're limited to less than 1GB of MP3 or WMA music; the antenna headphones are uncomfortable; its USB port is proprietary; Wi-Fi does not support 802.11a/g; audio quality when using Wi-Fi isn't top rate; rated battery life for live radio isn't stellar; pricey.

[CNET Editors' Review]


Nexus Audio T-2 AM/FM/XM Tuner

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T-2 Tuner
Geared toward the custom A/V market, the new Nexus Audio T-2 Tuner is both an XM Satellite Radio as well as an AM/FM tuner.

Housed in the "1U" chassis, the T-2 Dual Tuner is designed to communicate with the Nexus Audio C-6 A/V controllers through the "Feature" port connection. This in turn displays all of the tuner information, including channel name, artist and song title on the LCD displays on the K-8 or K-22 keypads.

Nexus Audio says they're the first Canadian manufacturer to receive approval to produce an XM-Ready tuner. 

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Phil Lesh to guest DJ on SIRIUS

Phil Lesh

Phil Lesh, founding member/bassist for the Grateful Dead and current leader of Phil Lesh & Friends, will be guest DJing on Sirius Satellite Radio this Tuesday, November 7th from 10pm to 12 midnight ET on Jam On (ch 17).

"Live with Lesh" will feature Phil Lesh live in SIRIUS' studios in New York City, playing tracks from his new DVD, Phil Lesh & Friends - Live at the Warfield Theater, and taking phone calls from fans.

Phil Lesh joined Jerry Garciaís band The Warlocks, later named Grateful Dead, in 1965, and remained its bassist throughout the bandís 30-year duration. Grateful Dead was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

XM Launches New Website



XM Satellite Radio has just unveiled a new website. Featuring a brand new look-and-feel, slicker styling and updated graphic treatments. The new xmradio.com (finally) reflects a "new media" company.

The homepage is actually far simplified from it's previous version (and has some similarities to Sirius' layout), but the changes don't stop there - the entire website to non-subscribers has been upgraded.

I dig it and think it's a much needed change. What does everyone else think?


XM Satellite Radio Covers the 2006 Mid-Term Elections

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2006 mid-term electionsXM Satellite Radio will have their own coverage of the 2006 mid-term elections on November 7th.

XM listeners can tune into live election coverage on Fox News (ch 121), Air America (ch 167), CNN (ch 122), CNN Headline News (ch 123), ABC News & Talk (ch 124), Fox News Talk (ch 168) and C-Span Radio (ch 132).

The day before the election XM's resident public radio guru, Bob Edwards, will discuss the races with Washington Post political analyst David Broder on "The Bob Edwards Show" at 8:00am ET on XM Public Radio (ch 133).

Bob will visit with noted author (and outspoken political figure) Gore Vidal on election day, and will have a full wrap-up of election results on Wednesday morning with Los Angeles Times’ Washington DC bureau chief Doyle McManus. 

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SIRIUS Satellite Radio to Broadcast Election 2006 Coverage


Election 2006 SIRIUS Satellite Radio will be providing live coverage of the 2006 mid-term elections, this November 7th, on several of their news/talk channels.

Election-night coverage will feature reporting and analysis from SIRIUS hosts, reporters, stringers and bloggers, plus news coverage from top-level news organizations. Coverage will continue post-election on November 8th.

For a list of SIRIUS' election coverage, follow the jump... 


Wendy's Signs with Sirius


SiriusSiriusBusiness/AMTC is really making the rounds lately, having recently signed with Wendy's International to provide a select number of Sirius channels into the burger joints.

Wendy's restaurants around the country will be able to select from 67 music channels to play while people eat their Spicy Chicken Sandwichs and Frostys (a late-night drunken favorite for college students nationwide). Wendy's operates about 6,000 chains nationwide, so this is a significant deal.

It's also signficant because satellite radio is the type of product that needs to be sampled before consumers decide they want to buy it. The more exposure, the better.

[via Gizmodo]


Sirius Canada signs with ClubLink, Hertz


Mounties!Sirius Canada has signed a deal with ClubLink to be installed at all ClubLink clubhouses in Ontario and Quebec. ClubLink is one of Canada's most popular golf course operators more than 15,000 Members and 35 18-hole golf courses throughout Ontario and Quebec.

In a separate deal, Sirius Canada and Hertz Canada have partnered to offer Sirius in three major Hertz airport locations in Canada. Sirius Canada will be offered in Hertz's Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal locations for a nominal fee.


XM at The SEMA Show in Vegas

XM at SEMAThe annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show is the world's largest trade show for automotive specialty products (read: pimped out rides, monster trucks, and dubs galore). It attracts over 100,000 attendees, including the leading companies in the automobile industry and the auto aftermarket business. For some sweet coverage of SEMA, check out AutoBlog.

XM Satellite Radio's presence at SEMA (which began October 31st and runs through November 3rd) has grown steadily over the past few years, with this year's show probably being it's biggest showing yet.

The large XM booth at SEMA ths year features the latest XM products, including the upcoming Delphi SKYFi3 radio.

For press day on Tuesday, NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. drew a huge crowd at the XM booth. He chit-chatted about his XM show with Car and Driver Radio's Alan Taylor, who brought on fellow NASCAR champion, and XM host, Jimmie Johnson by telephone (pictured).

Bryan Herta, who has driven the XM's Indy car for three seasons, announced at the XM booth that he will be moving to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in 2007, where he will drive an XM-sponsored Acura Courage for AGR.

Herta's brand-new XM car for the ALMS was also unveiled at the XM booth, check out a neato picture of it after the jump...

CMA Awards Coverage on SIRIUS

CMA AwardsSIRIUS Satellite Radio will celebrate the CMA Awards, with coverage of the November 6th event, as well as some extra special programming airing November 3th - 6th.

CMA Awards Night on SIRIUS will kick off at 7pm ET on Monday, November 6th, with awards reporting on SIRIUS New Country (ch 60). SIRIUS' Scott Lindy and Big Zak report from Nashville including post-show backstage reports with comments and reaction from the night’s big winners. 

In celebration of the annual awards, special programs will be broadcast November 3th through November 6th:

  • SIRIUS Prime Country(ch 61) will feature past CMA Award-winning artists and songs, as well as an interview with Carrie Underwood (this year’s most-nominated female artist) on Branson Coast-to-Coast on November 5th from 12 - 3pm ET.
  • The Roadhouse (ch 62) will feature music and history from members of the Country Music Hall of Fame during Rear View with Wade Jessen, airing November 4th at 9am ET.

More on Cingular + XM Partnership


Cingular and XMXM Satellite Radio has confirmed the reports that they are teaming up with Cingular to provide a limited number of XM music channels to Cingular subscribers.

Starting on November 6th, Cingular customers will be able to listen to XM Radio Mobile, XM's new mobile service providing 25 XM channels, for $8.99 a month. 

Channels will be browseable by genre, including The 70s, 80s and 90s decades channels, Top
20 on 20 (Top 20 Hits), Lucy (Classic Alternative Hits), The City (Hip-Hop/R&B Hits), XMU (Indie Rock), Bluesville (Blues), America (Classic Country Hits), and Viva (Latin Pop Hits). A full list of the 25 channels is supposedly available on Cingular's website, but I can't find it yet. UPDATE: Cingular will have more info on their website when the service launches on November 6th. A full list of the channels is available after the jump.

XM will also provide the "PAD data" that will let users see the song title, artist and album while listening on their handset. The XM Radio Mobile application was developed by MobiTV.


Cingular teaming up with Napster, Yahoo and XM Satellite Radio?

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CingularEarlier today the Wall Street Journal wrote that Cingular was planning on announcing a partnership with Napster and Yahoo! Music to launch a cellphone music service. The announcement is set to occur tomorrow.

Now Reuters is reporting that Cingular is raising the bar (sorry) and including XM's Web-based channels as part of the offering.

Billboard further elaborates, reporting that the XM service (XM Radio Mobile) will provide 25 music channels. XM Radio Mobile on Alltel currently consists of 20 channels, no word on whether the service is being expanded on both mobile providers.

According to the WSJ, Cingular's service will allow for the transfering of music from "all you can eat" subscription services like Napster to Go, Yahoo's Music Unlimited or eMusic. Next year, Cingular will add over-the-air downloading with a virtual store menu, similar to the one customers already use to buy ringtones.

Some speculation: remember that back in April, Cingular said that they are in talks with a new satellite video provider, one who is not Dish or DirecTV. Not sure if this is related, but the timing is curious.

Some thoughts: it's step forward to the ultimate goal of "device convergence" - but not quite there yet. Hopefully it's a taste of things to come.

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Sirius' Free Online Promotion... was it a hit?


Sirius Internet RadioSirius free two-day event was widely publicized - from on-air promos, to multi-lingual press releases, to commercial spots chanting "Howard! Howard!" - they pushed it hard. The question remains though whether this was effective in driving new subscribers... and that question will likely not be answered for a few months.

What we can do though, is look at traffic numbers. 

According to Hitwise, traffic to Sirius' website was up 91% on October 25th compared to the week before and up 201% when compared to the same day a year ago.

Alexa GraphAnd while I loathe referring to Alexa data now (it seems to be getting less and less accurate), it does show Sirius' traffic numbers nearly doubling from its average levels. 

Looking at the Yahoo Buzz Index, which scores according to Yahoo searches, shows that searches for "Sirius" jumped 78% on October 25th over the Monday before. Searches for "Howard Stern" went up 51% over the same weekly period as well. Google Trends, on the otherhand, shows no change in searches (perhaps it's not updated yet?).

For some hard numbers to compare this with: Sirius.com drew in 1.75 million unique users in September, while HowardStern.com grabbed 832,000 (XMradio.com drew in 2 million unique users in September as well).

The interest in Sirius and Howard Stern, at least for a free-trial, did cause a significant spike in traffic last week. If we're to assume the same numbers as in September, that's an average of ~60,000 unique visitors a day to Sirius' website. So a 91% increase would work out to just under 115,000 unique daily vistors for those two days. Not too shabby. Whether or not this translated to paying subscribers? Well, that's a different matter.



The Battle Over Music Royalities Has Begun


SatelliteSoundExchange, the organization that collects and distributes music royalities (often referred to as the ominous "RIAA" but technically this is incorrect, SoundExchange represents the recording industry) has filed their rate increase propsals to the Copyright Royalty Board.

SoundExchange is asking Sirius and XM to pay 10% of revenues, or $1.10 per subscriber, with a "gradual" increase over the term to a "reasonable rate" of 23%, or $2.75 per subscriber, by 2012.

Analysts estimate that XM and Sirius pay 4%-5% of their revenues to the music industry. Note that The Washington Post is reporting this figure to be 6.5%-7%, but I've read different. This figure is actually not publically disclosed, so this is all based on estimates. Either way, SoundExchange considers whatever they pay to be too low.

The current agreement expires December 31st, 2006.

In response, both Sirius and XM have proposed a rate of 0.88% of gross subscription revenue for the six year period, plus advertising revenues on the music channels.

The Copyright Royalty Board will hold hearings before it decides on new rates. This process could take over a year to go through, during which time XM and Sirius will pay their current rates. If an increase is decided, both satellite radio companies will have to pay the difference retroactively. The music industry cannot withhold music pending resolution of the agreement either.

Remember, this has nothing to do with device-specific issues that the RIAA has filed suit against XM and settled with Sirius over the Inno and S50 respectively. These proceedings are purely over the Compulsory Licenses that grant Sirius and XM the ability to pay music. Also note that XM has already reached a 5-year agreement with ASCAP (BMI and SESAC are the other organizations that represent songwriters and music publishers).

Both XM and Sirius take issue with SoundExchange's concept of increasing rates over time - stating that the value of a performance shouldn't change - that makes sense, and 23% is just plain ridiculous. But perhaps a middle ground can be reached? Say somewhere in between 0.88% and 10%? Hard to say, but the final outcome for this is a long ways away.

[The Washington Post


XM Launching "The Andretti Green Racing Hour" Radio Show

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Michael and Marco AndrettiAndretti Green Racing (AGR) is going to be be hosting a new show on XM Satellite Radio, "The Andretti Green Racing Hour," starting in February 2007.

"The Andretti Green Racing Hour" will be a one-hour weekly program featuring drivers from the Andretti Green team, as well as Michael Andretti, co-owner of Andretti Green Racing and open wheel racing legend. Michael Andretti is seen here alongside his son, AGR driver Marco Andretti, announcing the new XM show at SEMA 2006 in Las Vegas.

The 2007 Andretti Green driver lineup will include, among others, Danica Patrick, 2005 IndyCar Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year; Marco Andretti, 2006 IndyCar Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year; Bryan Herta, two time IndyCar Series race winner; and Tony Kanaan, 2004 IndyCar Series champion.

The show will air on XM's sports talk channel XM Sports Nation (ch 143).
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Mark Cuban pulls out of Sirius Program


Mark CubanMark Cuban was supposed to kick-off his own "Mark Cuban's Radio Maverick" show on Sirius Satellite Radio (announced back in April) has decided to pull out of the show.

According to his blog, Mark chose to do the show for Sirius in support of the NBA renewing their contract with Sirius. For free. "Thats what good partners do," wrote Cuban.

Instead, Cuban has decided to pull out of the show.

In an email to the Star-Telegram, Cuban said: "It was a culmination of many things in my relationship with the NBA. I decided to make my decision public because of e-mails from potential listeners and because of the information that some of the other owners or the league leaked to the media this week."


XM-4 Satellite Successfully Launched

XM-4 LaunchXM Satellite Radio's XM-4 satellite was succesfully launched on Monday at 6:49 pm ET from the Sea Launch Odyssey Launch Platform in the open waters of the Pacific Ocean on the equator. Everything was... nominal.

The XM-4 satellite final orbital position at 115 degrees West Longitude will replace XM's first two XM-1 and XM-2 satellites that were launched in 2001, which are expected to go belly-up around the beginning of 2008. For the meantime, both XM-1 and XM-2 will remain as in orbit spares in support of XM-3 and XM-4.

XM-4 is a Boeing BS-702 satellite that has 18 kW of power at the beginning of life, and an expected 15.5 kW at its end-of-life. XM-4 should last XM for 15+ years.

Want to watch video the XM-4 launching? Sure you do, check out the archived webcast here.

(...and yes, I was on vacation that past two days, so I'm doing a little catch up on the news.)