Orbitcast: January 2007 Archives

January 2007 Archives

Sirius to air special programming during Super Bowl Weekend

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Super Bowl on SiriusNot only will Sirius broadcast Super Bowl XLI live on multiple channels, but the celebration will extend to many of Sirius' music and talk/comedy/entertainment channels, as well.

From Maxim Radio’s red carpet coverage of parties at the Super Bowl, to Super Bowl-themed programs like "Martha Stewart’s Super Bowl How-To" and SIRIUS Disorder’s salute to music from all the NFL playoff cities, along with Playboy Radio’s broadcasts from the private Playmate Pool Party. It's a huge celebration weekend on Sirius.

Check out the schedule of Sirius' Super Bowl weekend special concerts, guests and programs after the jump...
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When satellite launches go wrong...

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Sea Launch had a bad day trying to launch a NSS-8 satellite. No this is not satrad related, but it shows you what happens when launches go wrong....

[via SSG]

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XM Comedy airing new Podcast

Look! It's the purple Podcast Guy!XM Satellite Radio's comedy channel XM Comedy (ch 150) is now airing the popular Brian Scolaro's "A Complete Waste of Time," podcast.

Launched only four months ago, "A Complete Waste of Time," is a short-form program that trys to take on serious issues of the day... but never gets it done. "Brian Scolaro and his sidekicks are breaking new ground with 'A Complete Waste of Time.' It's 'The Kids in the Hall' meets 'The Aristocrats' on radio," said Sonny Fox, program director of XM Comedy.

"A Complete Waste of Time" will air throughout the day on XM Comedy.

As far as I'm aware of, this is the first podcast that has made the transition to XM (am I wrong? correct me if I am). Sirius on the otherhand partnered with Adam Curry to broadcast select podcasts back in 2005. I like the idea of podcasts getting air time on satellite radio... as long as their hand-selected.

[Press Release]

Sirius' Celebrity Talent Spotlighted

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Howard SternThere's a perceptive piece making the rounds in the AP, Satellite Radio Draws Stars, that spotlights the celebrity talent that frequents the airwaves of satellite radio.

While there's a quick mention of XM, the piece really revolves around Sirius and buzzing celebrity society within their walls. From Jamie Foxx, to Martha Stewart, to Tiki Barber, to Cardinal Edward Egan, to - yes - Howard Stern; the article perfectly illustrates how Sirius' celebrity strategy is spurring the growth of the satellite radio medium.

Celebrity talent is most likely one of the reasons why Sirius is doing so well at retail. People are looking for familiarity when they make a decision. The term "satellite radio" is ambiguous to someone who hasn't heard it. So when they're staring at a display in Circuit City, they're going to choose the service that contains the most familiar names (unfamiliarity is intimidating to most).

Whether or not they spend much time on the air doesn't actually matter, celebrities have a wide reach that connects with the consumer at a personal level. And as soon as you make that connection, you're one step closer to a sale.

Thanks sternfan73! 

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XM Promo Code: Extended Free Trial and Free Radio

The AgendaAs part of a co-promotion with the HRC, XM Satellite Radio is offering an extended two-week free trial (normally 3-days) of XM Radio Online. The promo was launched in conjunction with the launch of HRC's "The Agenda," XM's premiere GLBT talk show (and XMRO channel, ch 134) with Joe Solmonese.

XM Promo Code: HRCXMQ107

Also with the same XM promo code, you can get a free XM radio as well as other offers. The promotion ends March 31st, 2007.

[The Agenda]
Thanks Matt!

XM and Toyota Extend Partnership for 10-years

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Toyota and XM Partnership 
XM Satellite Radio and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. have extended their partnership together through 2017. Toyota's expects their annual factory production of XM-equipped vehicles to exceed one million vehicles by 2010.

Funny, because following the Honda announcement yesterday, my first thought was "great, but what's up with Toyota?" Well, here's our answer. The main thing that this does is lift some concerns that Toyota wasn't really dedicated to the XM partnership. In fact, this debunks that completely. One million units by 2010? Nice.

In 2006, Lexus introduced XM as a factory-installed standard feature on the new 2007 Lexus LS 460 L. XM Radio is also available in the 2007 LS 460, which includes the service in its navigation packages. Later this year, Lexus will provide factory-installed XM as standard equipment on the upcoming luxury hybrid, LS 600h L. 

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Sirius Cutting Music DJs?

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Sirius GoldAccording to a post by Fred Richards on the New York Radio Message Board, Sirius is reportedly cutting costs by eliminating DJs on Sirius Gold (ch 5) "and two other feeds."

"If this is how Sirius is managing the cost of doing business, they estentially become a satellite-based iPod/MP3 player. And I don't get to choose the songs I listen to," added Phil Seely "I hope that this doesn't start happening across the street at XM, or the real bonus of satellite starts to lose it's value."

This appears to be a continuing sign that Sirius is cutting costs in personnel, following the recent letting go of Penny Crone of Howard 100 News. Whether or not this is a strategy to "go Jockless" as claimed is unknown... I'd hope not. But comparing this to the hiring of celebrity talent isn't really a valid argument.

Celebrity names get the subscribers through the door; on-air talent keeps them there.

[NY Radio Message Board via SeekingAlpha

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Rats! Invasion at XM Satellite Radio Headquarters

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Rats at XMXM Satellite Radio's Washington DC headquarters is under attack by pests (not O&A kind).

"We're talking rodents," writes XM senior vp Dan Turner in an internal memo. "Those of you familiar with DC rodents know that we're looking at the size of small house cats."

Apparently the second floor of The Eck, which is on a raised floor to allow the running of fiber cable underfoot, is where the invasion appears to be centralized. That same raised floor "represents an eight-lane superhighway to anywhere the rats want to go," according to the memo.

Turner continues: "Currently we have lost the functionality of Production Room 8 as the rodents have discovered that the cover on our fiber optics cables makes good nesting material. A couple of weeks ago it was one of the multi-function studios that was taken out of commission. Tomorrow it could be a cable to a satellite uplink. It is that serious."

The Orkin Man was called in to provide some firepower. "They put out the appropriate 'boxes' in the right places to address the problem," says Chance Patterson, vice president of corporate affairs at XM. "And hopefully the memo will encourage people to do their part to mitigate the issue."

[Washington City Paper and Washington Post]
Thanks Matt & Karl!

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Black History Month on XM

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Black History Month on XM RadioXM Satellite Radio will be airing special programming dedicated to Black History Month this February.

A few highlights include special Soul Edition episodes of XM's "Artist Confidential;" speeches and interviews with prominent African American authors, historians and leaders; the Negro League Baseball Museum's 7th Annual Legacy Awards; and more.

Infiniti will be the presenting sponsor for XM’s Black History Month programming. Check out more programming highlights after the jump...

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Introducing Orbitcast Jobs

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Orbitcast Jobs
I'm introducing a new section to this site entitled "Orbitcast Jobs" where job seekers and companies alike can meet and share jobs specific to the satellite radio industry.

Companies looking to recruit highly-qualified and technical candidates can currently advertise a position on Orbitcast Jobs for only $99/month. This provides you ability to appeal to a very targeted audience of professionals who otherwise might not notice your position.

Here's some key takeaways about this new job board:

  • This site attracts a very targeted and premium audience that follows the satellite radio industry at an obsessive level.
  • Orbitcast receives an average of 11,000 - 14,000 page views a day, and growing.
  • Our partnership with Simply Hired allows your job posting to get additional visibility across their entire network, which includes MySpace and LinkedIn.
  • $99 per listing is a damn good deal.

So if you're in seek of savvy talent, give it a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

[Orbitcast Jobs]

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Bubba The Love Sponge to appear at the Arnold Classic

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Bubba The Love SpongeBubba The Love Sponge will be stopping by the ProSource Performance Supplements booth at the Arnold Classic on Saturday, March 3rd, to meet and greet his fans.

The Arnold Classic, one of bodybuilding's premier contests, will be held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus Ohio, March 2nd-4th.

Bubba has lost over 70 pounds and he credits ProSource for helping in accomplishing this. Bubba is highlighted in the upcoming March 2007 issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine and will be signing copies of this issue at the booth.

"I love meeting the fans," Bubba says. "And I hear the Arnold Classic is a magnet for all kinds of hot girls in tiny outfits, bodybuilding freaks, and assorted crazy people. Add Bubba the Love Sponge and you can't go wrong." Bubba grins. "I predict a good time for all."

[Press Release

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XM and Honda Extend Partnership for 10-years

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Honda / XM Partnership
XM Satellite Radio and American Honda Company have just announced that they've extended their relationship through 2016.

Honda introduced their first factory-installed vehicle back in 2003, and is expecting to install XM in 650,000 vehicles for the 2007 model year. XM is available as a factory-installed feature on 2007 Honda models including the Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Ridgeline, Accord, Accord Hybrid, Pilot, Odyssey and Element.

XM is also a standard factory-installed feature on every 2007 Acura model, and XM NavTraffic is standard on all 2007 Acura vehicles equipped with the AcuraLink satellite communication system.

Honda and XM also recently announced a user car program to provide a complimentary 3-month subscription in XM-enabled Certified Pre-Owned Honda (and Acura) vehicles.

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Video: Satellite Radio on the Simpsons

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Woohoo! Here's video of the satellite radio mention on the Simpsons.

Thanks to the boys over at Sirius Uplink for the video!

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XM Radio Online available with Windows Vista

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XM in Windows VistaThe XM Satellite Radio and Microsoft partnership will continue with the inclusion of XM Radio Online in the new Windows Vista (being made available to us lil' people tomorrow).

XM Radio Online (XMRO) will be part of Windows Vista's digital music hub delivering +80 channels (including O&A, Bob Edwards, and Oprah) to Vista users.

As usual, users can either register for a free 3-day trial, or get an XMRO stand-alone subscription for $7.99/month. If you're a regular XM Satellite Radio subscriber, guess what, it's available at no additional charge (and hopefully you knew that already).

"Microsoft is pleased to be working closely with XM," said Mike Sievert, corporate vice president, Windows at Microsoft Corp. "We are thrilled with XM's support and excitement for the launch of Windows Vista and the 2007 Office system."

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Satellite Radio on the Simpsons

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Homer Simpsons' Satellite Radio You know a medium has reached key milestone in our mainstream culture, when it gets mentioned on the Simpsons.

So was the case when during last night's Simpsons episode ("Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times") when Homer showed off his new satellite radio. Sure, it's not going to make anyone run out of their house to the nearest Best Buy, but it pretty damn cool.

Gee, that looks strikingly similar to a Sportster. SSG has a pretty good thought as to why.

[SSG via Sirius Uplink]
Thanks Joshua!

(Side note: I've been trying to find the video for this all day... anyone have a clip of it, please email me and I'll post it.)

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DePauw Professor Blasts Satellite Radio

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Jeffrey M. McCallJeffrey M. McCall, professor of communication at DePauw University, published an essay blasting the satellite radio industry in the Indianapolis Star. It's not necessarily an inaccurate piece (mostly about the hurdles of 2006), just one riddled with spin and snide comments that are meant to lead the reader to a theoretical conclusion.

Curious too. Because even though he uses words like "struggling" and "dismal" to describe the satellite radio industry, he doesn't seem to have a problem with boasting about regular radio's "local identity" and how "powerful" the NAB is.

Interesting, because only a year ago Professor Jeffrey M. McCall said this about terrestrial radio, "They need to go back to their strengths, having somebody local there. Think about the stations that don't have [a] word of local news anymore." But but... I thought that was one of their key strengths? Did terrestrial get back that "local identity" in the past year?

Of course, in that same article, McCall hints that the FCC should impose indecency regulations on the satellite radio industry. And only a few months later Jeffrey McCall is quoted as saying, "I don't know that radio is important enough in people's lives to pay for."

Hmmm... anyone get the feeling he doesn't like satellite radio? Naahh.

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BusinessWeek on HD Radio

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Polk I-Sonic
BusinessWeek has a good article today on the state of HD Radio and hurdles that terrestrial radio face in spurring adoption.

One interesting section of note:

The problem for the broadcasters, who continue to see their audience become fragmented and struggle to boost ad revenues, is that HD radio "is not a new offering. It's a defensive move," says Ted Schadler, an analyst with Forrester Research (FORR). "It's better radio, but it's not a whole lot better radio." He calls it a replacement product and likens it to the transition from black-and-white to color TVs.

"People still got a picture and their shows on black-and-white so they waited until their sets went on the fritz. Then they bought a color TV." For 2007, the industry will sell a few HD receivers, but 10 years from now, everyone will have one. "It's that kind of thing. It will happen without a ripple," says Schadler. 

The only difference with this analogy is that color TV was "cool" - HD Radio, in this rapidly evolving technological environment - is being challenged by a heck of lot of other "cooler" things.

Now let's flip it around (because I can't bring up HD Radio without talking about Satellite Radio)... what about satellite radio isn't "cool" enough to the consumer?

[BusinessWeek]

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Bobby Knight on Coach K's XM Show (Part Deux)

Bobby Knight and Coach KBobby Knight returns to XM Satellite Radio this week for part two of the interview conducted by fellow Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski on his show “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” on XM Sports Nation (ch 144).

The always-quotable Bobby Knight had this to say during one of their exchanges:

Coach K: You’ve put over forty years into our game. How do you view the game right now? What things would you change on the court, for the game?

Bobby Knight: Officials should not be allowed in college to work more than three games a week.  Your kids are tired, and mine are too, if they play three games in a week, and officials work six nights a week, and I think that’s really an abortion to the game of basketball. It hurts the officials, and when the officials are tired, they hurt the game. I think it could be changed easily. You’re either going to work three games a week, or you can go to the NBA, or the NJCAA, or the NAAIA, or you can work Kroger’s against the A&P in the city league.

"Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” airs on XM Sports Nation - Wednesdays at 2pm ET, with replays airing that evening, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Sirius Signs NASCAR Driver Juan Pablo Montoya

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Juan Pablo MontoyaSirius Satellite Radio has signed Juan Pablo Montoya, the first F1 driver ever to jump full time into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

Juan Pablo Montoya will participate in a weekly interview spot heard only on Sirius NASCAR Radio, starting today, January 29th. Montoya will be heard every Monday on "Sirius Speedway," a talk show hosted by Dave Moody that airs weekdays from 3pm-7pm ET on Sirius NASCAR Radio (ch.128).

Juan Pablo Montoya, is a former Formula One star who will drive the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series in 2007 for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

Each week Sirius listeners will get first-hand updates on Montoya's progress, hear his insights into the differences between open-wheel and stock car racing and get his feedback on all the races. 

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Super Bowl XLI on Sirius Satellite Radio

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Bears vs Colts
Sirius Satellite Radio will air ten game broadcasts of Super Bowl XLI, in seven different languages, live from Miami as the Chicago Bears go head-to-head against Indianapolis Colts on Super Bowl Sunday, February 4th.

Super Bowl XLISirius' live play-by-play broadcasts of Super Bowl XLI will include both teams' local radio broadcasts as well as the national Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports broadcast. Here's the breakdown of the channels and their associated Super Bowl broadcasts:

  • Indianapolis Colts team broadcasts - Sirius channel 125
  • Chicago Bears team broadcasts - Sirius channel 123
  • Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports broadcast - Sirius channel 124
  • Westwoo One Spanish broadcast (Spanish-Latin America) - Sirius channel 181
  • Canal + Spain broadcast (Spanish-Spain) - Sirius channel 147
  • NTV + Russia broadcast (Russian) - Sirius channel 143
  • France 2 broadcast (French) - Sirius channel 110
  • NHK Japan broadcast (Japanese) - Sirius channel 107
  • SMG broadcast (Mandarin Chinese) - Sirius channel 119
  • ARD broadcast (German) - Sirius channel 130

Also, starting today (Jan 29th) through Super Bowl Sunday, Sirius NFL Radio (ch 124) will broadcast live everyday from Radio Row at the Miami Beach Convention Center. You'll get up-to-the-minute news and analysis from a panel that includes Jerry Rice, Cris Carter, Tim Ryan, Pat Kirwan, Gil Brandt, Jim Miller, Carl Banks, Bob Papa and Ada Schein.

Sirius NFL Radio will also broadcast live from Dolphin Stadium on Media Day - tomorrow, January 30th - from 10am to 3pm ET, where you'll hear interviews with players and coaches from the Colts and Bears.

On Saturday, from 2pm-6pm ET, Sirius will have live coverage as the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2007 is announced at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Check the full daily schedule of Sirius' in-depth NFL coverage after the jump... 

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XM WX SkyWatch: XM's consumer oriented weather service

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XM WX SkyWatchXM Satellite Radio's XM WX weather service has been out for a while now, but has traditionally been targeted to the marine or aviation professional. But with the upcoming Bushnell ONIX400, weather data services will soon be available for the common man in handheld form (and in your car as well).

So the question on everyone's mind is: how much?

According to sources, the new consumer version of XM WX, entitled XM WX SkyWatch, will be available for only $3.99/month when combined with an XM Satellite Radio subscription. So that's a total cost of $16.94 a month.

If you want the SkyWatch package alone without XM radio, SkyWatch will run you $9.95 a month (personally, the audio + weather services sounds like a no-brainer).

The XM WX SkyWatch package includes graphical NEXRAD radar summary (aka Doppler Radar), National Weather Service warnings, your current weather conditions, and 3-day or 7-day city forecasts. Bye bye weather guy.

Also, according to these sources, XM WX is starting an "End of Season" package that allows you to suspend your account with no monthly fee until the start of the next season - with no re-activation fee. Genius.

Availability is supposed to be sometime in Summer 2007. Sign me up.

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Analysis: Satellite Radio Subscriber Projections 2007 - 2020

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Satellite Radio Subscriber Projections
Bridge Ratings has released a new study projecting the user growth of various digital media including Satellite Radio, Internet radio, mobile phone streaming, and HD Radio (amongst others).

Let's first focus on the satellite radio subscriber projections, because well, that's what I do. So for the end of 2007, Bridge Ratings is projecting an increase of 3.9 million net subscribers for the satellite radio industry as a whole - with XM at 9.12 million, and Sirius at 8.34 million subscribers.

Just for comparison's sake: Bear Stearns' Robert Peck predicts XM to end 2007 with 9.2-9.3 million subscribers, and Sirius to end the year with 8.1-8.2 million. Bank of America's Jonathan Jacoby weighs in with his 2007 prediction of 9.2 million subscribers for XM and 8.2 million subscribers for Sirius.

Whatever the source, it's obvious that there's a lowered expectation for the total number of potential satellite radio subscribers in the US. Something that industry-watchers (myself included) continue to scratch their head over.

And that's only 2007.

For year-end 2008, Bridge is predicting 10.76 net subscribers for XM and 9.99 subscribers for Sirius. By 2010, Bridge is saying that XM will have 12.48M subs and Sirius will have 11.99M subs. By 2015 we're at 15.60M for XM, and 14.39M for Sirius. And yes, the projection even goes as far as 2020 where Bridge estimates 17.94M subs for XM and 17.26M subs for Sirius.

Since the predictability of anything past 5 years essentially deteriorates over time, let's just look at the 2015 and 2020 projections as "interesting" but non-conclusive. Technology changes at such a rapid pace, that it's just not reasonable to look at anything past 5 years (case in point: 5 years ago XM had 27k subscribers).

Looking at the other 2010 numbers, there's some interesting figures that I'm sure XM and Sirius are looking closely at (or they should be). Particularly that's Wireless Internet (WiMAX?) and Mobile Phone Streaming. These could lead to a new definition of "subscribers" as XM and Sirius look to diversify their offering.

By the beginning of 2010, Bridge is estimating 93.26 million Wireless Internet users. That doesn't necessarily mean that there will be over 93M people listening over Wireless Internet (so from a superficial standpoint you could consider it as a "no threat" figure) but it shows a trend of what consumers will be expecting. And guess what: mindshare is everything. While I can't attest to the numbers of Wireless Internet users, it doesn't seem like a bad idea for satellite radio to position themselves more than just "radio" but as an overall method of "connectivity" - particularly in the car. Delivering real-time services that prove useful for the consumer on-the-go is a big step towards making satellite radio a "necessity" rather than a "luxury." Real-time traffic, weather, stocks, sports (...what's next?) are all things that can be delivered to the consumer as pure data - making terrestrial radio (essentially the "middle man") an obsolete service no longer needed by the mobile user.

As for Mobile Phone Streaming, Bridge is predicting 40.17 million users by 2010. (Side note: the term "mobile phone streaming" and "wireless internet" could very well be the same thing in a couple years - but I've split hairs enough for this post.) More than anything Mobile Phone Streaming looks to be an opportunity for the satellite radio industry. It's in the unique position to be a centralized content provider - not just of live programming - but of "effortless" music content (not to mention those data services). Sure deals like Sprint and Cingular don't give much to the bottomline right now, but strategically they're the foot in the door for when the consumer begins to actually look at their phone as a music device. And that change in consumer mindset looks to be right over the horizon.

So while we're looking at the possibility of a slower overall adoption of satellite radio in the next few years (something I'm not 100% convinced of), a lot can change in the next few years, and the definition of what a "subscriber" really is... could change as well.

[More at Bridge Ratings

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XM Poll: Favorite Valentine's Day Love Songs?

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Valentine's Day Love SongsValentine's Day is just a few weeks away, and aside from a ridiculous excuse to mark up the price of roses, it probably is also the one day when the most love songs are played.

So rather than letting your V-Day suck, take control and let XM know what are your top 5 favorite love songs. Look through XM's hand-picked selection of love songs and then place your vote so XM knows what really turns you on.

Here's my picks: “Because You Loved Me,” by Celine Dion; “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” by Bryan Adams; “Have I Told You Lately,” by Rod Stewart; “I Want You to Want Me,” by Cheap Trick;  and my personal fav... “nothing compares 2 u,” by Sinead O'Connor.

[Vote here]

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AMTC Signs Noble Roman's, Wingstop Restaurants for SiriusBusiness

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Mmmm... wingsAMTC has inked deals with two restaurant chains, Noble Roman's and Wingstop Restaurants, to provide SiriusBusiness as the preferred background music throughout all their restaurants.

Noble Roman is the national franchiser for Noble Roman's Pizza and Tuscano's Italian Style Subs, with locations in 44 states. Wingstop Restaurants is a chicken wing franchise with over 500 restaurants open or under development throughout the US.

AMTC is providing SiriusBusiness - which consists of 67 commercial-free music channels - to both for a $24.95 monthly price, as well as supplying the sound equipment to both company's locations.

[via SSG

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VICI Racing's XM Porsche-Fabcar to compete in Rolex 24 this weekend

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XM Satellite Radio VICI Racing Porsche-Fabcar
The XM Satellite Radio VICI Racing team is ready for their #18 Porsche-Fabcar to hit the track as part of the 45th running of the Rolex Daytona 24 hour race this weekend.

The action kicks off at Daytona International Speedway this Saturday at 1:00pm ET and runs for, well, 24 hours as the black-and-yellow car joins other Prototypes and GT machines in the legendary endurance race.

The Rolex 24 features drivers from NASCAR, the IndyCar Series, Champ Car, and international competition.

For pics and info, check out VICI Racing's website

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AMTC Introduces New PR and Sales Support Team

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SiriusBusinessAMTC (aka SiriusBusiness) has announced the creation of its new Public Relations and Sales Support team.

AMTC has picked Matthew Holden to lead this new effort. Holden joined Applied Media Technologies Corporation in January 2006 as a Sales Support Specialist before moving into his previous role as Sales Support and Special Programs Coordinator. Richard J. Ludwig and Nicholas J. Milton, both recent additions to AMTC’s staff, will also participate in this initiative.

As part of their goal to reach $5 million in gross sales for 2007, the new team will encompass all of the company’s public communications, including press releases, feature articles, AMTC’s network of websites, and advertising. The team will be responsible for all sales support functions within AMTC, and will take on additional special projects such as development of software tools for internal use.
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New York Times on Excessive FM Transmitters (sort of)

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That's a SportsterSo yeah, it's a slow news day, so I'm forced to post something about this story in today's New York Times. Normally this would get ignored, but yeah, it's the Times and I'm kind of fond of them lately.

The whole basis of the piece is about the "mysterious" appearances of Howard Stern's Sirius show on terrestrial radio. As we all know this is pretty much old news since the FM mods were fixed last year, but of course some older receivers are out there excessively emitting away. If anything this is fodder for the NAB (among others) to continue crying for a satellite radio recall.

So kudos to Patrick Reilly, Sirius spokesman-extraordinaire, for giving up absolutely nothing that would help fuel the NAB's effort with this quote, "All satellite radios need to be approved by and in compliance with applicable F.C.C. rules, and all of our radios are compliant."

As a result, the piece needs to hunt around looking for another "potential suspect" that's causing Howard to bleed into the free airwaves. The thing that's curious is that no one ever seems to bring up over-emitting iPod adapters - which, considering the marketshare and number of FM transmitters built for the iPod - could very well outnumber over-emitting satellite radios.

[New York Times

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More Radio-Rippers: Pogo Radio YourWay LX

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Pogo Radio YourWay LXOh look, here's another device that allows you to record AM/FM radio and then upload the recordings to your PC.

The Pogo Radio YourWay LX not only let's you record à la carte, but also lets you schedule recordings - up to 10 events - for when you're not around. Up to 8.5 hours can be saved in MP3 format even. All for "only" $199.95.

Funny thing is that the Inno doesn't let you copy the songs to your PC... unless you pay for them (which, to me, might be considered a good thing to the record industry). So why doesn't the RIAA take issue with the Pogo Radio YourWay? Oh right, because it's ripping free radio... and I guess that's ok

[Product Page]
Thanks Russell!

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The Radio-Ripping PopCatcher MusicDock MD-601

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PopCatcher MusicDock
 

 

It looks like PopCatcher has come out with a new device, dubbed the PopCatcher MusicDock MD-601, which allows you to rip over-the-air radio, chop it up into separate tracks, and convert it to MP3 for your media consumption desires.

Similar to the TimeTrax TraxCatcher, the neat thing about the MusicDock MD-601 is that it includes a dockable 1Gb MP3 player. Once the MP3 player gets filled up, simply download the tunes to your computer, and continue to rip straight from the radio.

Obviously this device differs greatly from the Pioneer Inno - in that it's a bit more blatant in it's interests of "stealing" music - but somehow I don't see it causing the same stir with the RIAA. Of course, if the RIAA wins their lawsuit against XM, devices like this will go the way of the Dodo bird.

[via Engadget

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Zing Receives $12.5 Million Funding

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Sansa ConnectZing, the company behind the Sirius Stiletto's WiFi technology, as received $12.5 million out of a $13.41 million third-round funding that it is raising, according to a regulatory filing.

IDG Ventures Boston was joined by return backer Redpoint Ventures.

The first Zing product was the Sirius Stiletto, though notably they've received more recognition from the soon to be release Sansa Connect (pictured). The SanDisk Sansa Connect won CNET's Best of CES 2007 award and features 4Gb of memory plus the WiFi connection so you can listen to Internet Radio.

[PEHub via PaidContent

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Opie & Anthony working on Traveling Virus sequel

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Opie and Anthony
Opie and Anthony are preparing to launch another Traveling Virus Tour, likely to start in April and run for 10 weeks across multiple venues.

Last year's Traveling Virus Comedy Tour appeared at Cleveland, OH, Worcester, MA, Holmdel, NJ and Camden, NJ where it broke Jay Leno's record for a comedy event. This year the Opie & Anthony Traveling Virus Comedy Tour is said to hit Las Vegas, West Palm Beach, Washington, D.C., Long Island (Jones Beach), Connecticut, Detroit, Chicago, Holmdel, and Camden. Specifics on exact venues will be released in the near future.

We still don't know exactly which comedians will star in the line-up, but it was said on the show that the tour would "bring in some new names, then, of course, the regulars that you know and love from the show."

[FMQB]
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Howard Stern's Super Bowl Halftime Show

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Howard TVAre you afraid of your youngster witnessing another accidental nip-slip during this year's Super Bowl Halftime Show? Well, don't let little Johnny be scarred for life, and instead tune into In Demand's Howard TV, where you can watch Stupid Bowl III: The Boys Vs. the Girls.

Howard TV's Stupid Bowl III: The Boys Vs. the Girls will feature a full 28-minute flag football game pitting Stern's staffers against drag queens with Penthouse Pets as cheerleaders.

It's wholesome, friendly entertainment that's guaranteed not to result in an FCC indecency fine.

[via Broadcast Newsroom]
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Winter X Games to be covered by Sirius

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Winter X GamesSirius Satellite Radio's Faction (ch 28) will provide on-site coverage of the Winter X Games in Aspen, CO starting on January 27th.

Faction's hosts Michael Tully and Bryan Cullen will provide up-to-the-minute reports direct from Buttermilk Mountain. Meanwhile former Olympian Carrie Sheinberg will provide analysis and an insider's perspective on the events.

Coverage begins on Saturday, January 27th from 12-8pm ET, then on Sunday January 28th from 10-8pm ET. The wrap-up show for the Winter X Games will also air on Sunday at 9pm ET.

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European Satellite Radio to be unveiled today

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European Satellite Radio
The European Space Agency (ESA) today will demonstrate a prototype of what they call "the multimedia car radio of the future" at the Noordwijk Space Expo in the Netherlands. Unlike XM and Sirius' satellite radio services, this system won't require the launching of new satellites - instead it will use existing communications satellites transmitting in the Ku-band.

European Satellite RadioThe satellite radio system employs a flat mobile antenna that is designed to be embedded into the roof the car. It also utilizes on-board caching (through a hard-drive or solid-state memory) to prevent interuption of service when the satellite signal is obstructed. This caching of course also allows for time-shifting abilities like pause and rewind of live radio.

ESA and its partners have worked on the mobile multimedia system for over three years. The technology could spell bad news for WorldSpace Satellite Radio which is looking to be the dominant satellite radio provider outside of the US.

There's obviously no word on any content providers for the system as it's still in the prototype phases. (Tip to Sirius, XM: Get on the horn with ESA and work on striking a deal to provide content for these guys.)

[ESA via CBC]
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NASCAR's shift from XM to Sirius

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NASCARDavid Hinckley has a piece in the New York Daily News today on NASCAR's partnership moving from XM to Sirius, and how both services are appealing to the NASCAR fan.

The five-year, $107.5 million deal that Sirius inked with NASCAR allows them to broadcast all 36 races starting this year. Sirius carries 12 hours of live NASCAR talk every day, including the David Poole and Marty Snider morning show and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart's show every Tuesday night. Sirius also provides separate channels of in-car audio between the driver and pit crew during the races.

"Our package is radically different from what XM offered," says Sirius' Scott Greenstein. "We treat NASCAR like we treat the NFL. We talk about the race all week, we carry the race and then we have a five-hour post-race show."

Meanwhile XM still provides NASCAR-related talk and coverage, but not the live races.

"We're still in the game," says XM's Eric Logan. "We just do it differently. We looked at how people were using the channel, and most of it was to talk about the races, not listen to them. So we saved $20 million a year and kept what most subscribers wanted."

With 75 million NASCAR fans, it's all part of Sirius' strategy to target young men.

"We have Howard Stern, NFL football, the Playboy Channel and other programming that already appealed to those listeners," Greenstein says. "So NASCAR fits right in, even though it stands on its own."

[New York Daily News]
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ExpressJet to offer XM Satellite Radio

ExpressJetExpressJet apparently will be including free XM Satellite Radio as part of their product offering in the near future.

It's hard to make out the full details as this info is listed as part of ExpressJet's Q4/Full Year announcement but it appears that this is part of ExpressJet's "branded services" using 44 aircraft.

The XM Satellite Radio service will offer "over 100 channels of programming" completely free to passengers.

ExpressJet Airlines normally operates under the name Continental Express.

[Press Release]
Thanks Jack!

XM's "Frank's Place" gets a name change

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XM Frank's Place

XM Satellite Radio's standards channel, Frank's Place (ch 73), is changing its name to "High Standards," according to the NY Daily News.

At a time when the satellite radio industry is looking to trim extra costs and focus on profitability, XM will no longer be licensing the Frank Sinatra name.

The content will remain unchanged, and I assume the channel number will remain the same. Jonathan Schwartz will also continue as the programmer.

The XM "High Standards" (ch 73) name change will launch starting this Friday.

[New York Daily News

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What's the deal with Oprah?

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OprahOprah & Friends debuted on XM Satellite Radio back in September, and aside from making the rounds in the press on launch day, there's been little fanfare surrounding her partnership with XM. So what's the deal?

XM's approach with Oprah obviously differs from Sirius' strategy with Howard Stern (and I loathe the comparison of the two). Rather than creating "an event" like Sirius did with Stern (a result of exclusivity), XM's partnership with Oprah is much more low-key.

In fact, the only exclusivity that XM gains from the deal isn't even from Oprah herself - it's from her "friends" (Gayle King, Jean Chatzky, Maya Angelou, Dr. Oz, etc) which provides a value to Oprah's audience. Oprah's involvement is more in the way of branding, and using her famous "influence" as a promotional vehicle.

And therein lies the problem. Since the launch of Oprah & Friends, there has been very little in terms of promotion for the channel coming from Oprah (at least as far as I've seen). Now, I understand that Oprah can't been seen as a shill for every company she partners with (her "influence" being
well known - especially by her fans - opens her up to scrutiny over everything she promotes), but surely there's more that can be done.

Oprah brings other things to the table like exposure to A-list advertisers (which of course benefits Harpo as well), but it just seems like she could be doing more on the promotional side. The channel has compelling content for the Oprah fan, but there needs to be something - anything - that creates the need to subscribe.

Perhaps "an event" of some kind? Any suggestions?

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XM, Sirius Merger: If it happens, it'll be soon.

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XM / Sirius Merger 

If a merger between XM and Sirius were to happen it would probably happen within the next 4-8 weeks, says Bear Stearns analyst Robert Peck.

The reasoning behind that is that he believes that the deal would need to be wrapped up and approved by the Summer of 2008, before election seasons starts heating up. Since the deal would likely take 12 to 15 months complete, and they have until mid-2008 as a deadline, so that's where we can backtrack to see the rapidly closing window of opportunity.

Peck also mentioned that Sirius and XM will likely review whether or not the deal would pass regulatory approval (something we've all been speculating on as well) and if the likelihood is more than 50%, they could very well make an attempt at the merger.

[via Inside Radio]
(Note: Inside Radio shows 4-6 weeks though Peck actually said 4-8 weeks.)

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In-Car Telematics in High Demand

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SatelliteIn-vehicle telematics systems are expected to be in high demand by consumers within the next few years, according to a study by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence.

Their survey found that 62% of drivers are likely to purchase a navigation system for their next new vehicle. In addition, 51% of drivers say they're likely to get a safety/security service like OnStar.

About 41% of drivers said they were likely to buy a DVD system for their next new vehicle. This is likely the market to go after for Sirius Backseat TV.

For respondents that were willing to purchase these systems within the next 12-months: 22% said they would get a GPS satellite navigation device, 13% said OnStar, and 12% for Bluetooth.

As for what consumers expected to be standard equipment in new vehicles: 81% said GPS navigation system, and 75% said security services would be included in the next five years.

Telematics is a key area for satellite radio to continue to concentrate on, because unlike Internet/WiMAX, satellite radio already has the connection. The bandwidth required to push XM NavTraffic data, for instance, is equal to that of one audio traffic channel. Who needs "traffic and weather together" from your local terrestrial station when you can just punch it up on your nav system?

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Sirius & XM Merger could benefit Wistron NeWeb

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Wistron NeWebEven though there has been no official word of a merger between XM and Sirius, that still doesn't stop the speculation to ensue on how it would affect suppliers like Taiwan-based satellite device maker Wistron NeWeb.

According to "market sources" the successful acquisition of XM by Sirius (apparently not a "merger of equals") would allow Wistron NeWeb to gain digital satellite receiver orders at the expense of XM's suppliers in South Korea. That would effectively increase revenues from NT$21-23 billion in 2007, from NT$18.64 billion in 2006.

Brilliant! Now how would a satellite radio merger affect the rainfall accumulation in Grand Fork, ND? Let me run some numbers on that.

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HD Radio Adds 17 More Markets (Zzzz)

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HD RadioHD Radio was just launched in 17 new markets as part of the HD Radio Alliance's national rollout. With the addition of these markets, this brings the tally up to 85 new markets in the past year.

"That means there are now more than 600 new radio stations on the air with HD2 programming that is unique, diverse and local to each market," said HD Digital Radio Alliance President/CEO Peter Ferrara.

Yep, that's 600 new stations broadcasting HD2 programming, with 320 stations in 81 markets owned by Clear Channel. Programming that, as MediaWeek points out, requires station owners to "research and program, in earnest, the HD stations that today are not getting serious attention."

Serious attention is right. Some of HD2 stations in my area only seem to broadcast the same exact thing as the HD1 stations... or just the lovely sound of silence. Only a handful provide unique HD2 content.

Not exactly the best way to attract an early-adopter audience.
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XM + Sirius Merger Synergies Could Reach $6.7B

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XM Sirius MergerThe merger of XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio could create the net present value of $6.7 Billion in savings and synergies, according to Bear Stearns analyst Robert Peck.

That figure is taking into account "several simplifying and sometimes conservative assumptions" including no revenue from additional services and the fact that both companies would likely have to operate both satellite systems in the near term to prevent a disruption in service.

Peck believes that the largest contributor of cost savings would come from OEM and programming, while - unlike the NY Post's assumption - content costs would not be reduced upon renewal "as DARS will still compete with other delivery technologies."

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XM and Honda Launch Used Car Satellite Radio Program

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HondaXM Satellite Radio and Honda have launched a satellite radio trial program for Honda Certified Used Cars with factory-installed XM Satellite Radio.

All certified pre-owned Honda models (equipped with XM Satellite Radio of course) will be available with three months of complimentary XM service and a waived activation fee. Honda models equipped with XM include the Accord, Accord Hybrid, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Odyssey, Pilot, and Ridgeline.

This is obviously the evolution of a similar program that XM and Honda Motors launched with Certified Pre-Owned Acuras back in October.

Combined with the Acura program, this will make XM available in over 35,000 pre-owned vehicles in 2007, and is expected to grow to more than 55,000 vehicles in 2008. As the increased availability of factory-installed XM Satellite Radio across both Honda and Acura grow, so will the availability for this used car satellite radio program.

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Jamie Foxx gets his own channel on Sirius Satellite Radio

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Jamie Foxx on SiriusSirius Satellite Radio has signed with the Academy Award-winning actor, American Music Award-winning and GRAMMY-nominated artist, and comedian Jamie Foxx.

Jamie Foxx will be the executive producer, on-air host and contributor for his own channel - entitled The Foxxhole. Marcus King, who has worked with Foxx in several projects will also serve as executive producer.

The Foxxhole will feature original urban comedy bits, as well as showcase music, skits, radio theater and more. Foxx will be heard on the channel daily with a segment featuring dispatches from Jamie no matter where he is in the world. Foxx and his team of contributors will also host a weekly show on the channel.

The Foxxhole will launch this spring on Sirius channel 106. Jamie Foxx was a guest-host on Sirius Hits-1 back in May.

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Coach K interviews Bobby Knight on XM

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Coach K and Bob KnightDuke University headcoach Mike Krzyzewski (Coach "K") and his mentor, Texas Tech’s Bobby Knight, will sit down for an in-depth discussion on XM Sports Nation (ch 144) this Wednesday, January 24th.
 
The two Basketball Hall of Famers, who both hold six NCAA college basketball championships between the two of them, will talk about the game and the lessons passed from teacher to student on Krzyzewski’s XM show "Basketball and Beyond with Coach K."
 
Knight coached Krzyzewski at West Point, and Knight hired Krzyzewski as an assistant at Indiana.
 
The first part of Coach K’s show airs this Wednesday on XMSN at 2pm ET, and the second segment will air next Wednesday, January 31st (also at 2pm ET). Encores will play at 7pm and 11pm ET, with additional times on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.

(The old-school picture of the two of them here is when Knight was K’s coach at West Point. Photo Credit: U.S. Military Academy Sports Information Office.)  

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Numbers don't lie. Do they?

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Look ma, a satellite!Eric Savitz at Barron's hits the nail on the head:
"I think the Street might be making too much of the weak satellite radio sales at retail. The satellite services will live or die on their ability to become standard equipment on most new cars; after-market radios is always going to be secondary."
The 'softening' of the retail market isn't spelling the doom of the satellite radio industry (and therefore the necessity of a merger in order for either/both to survive). It's simply the result of the recovering from an event ("The Stern Effect") that caused a massive number of people to subscribe in late-2005.

Michael Gartenberg at JupiterResearch puts it perfectly:
"People often say numbers don't lie. That's not true, numbers lie all the time."
Analysts have been predicting 20-30 million total subscribers by 2010 for a while now. Nothing's changed. At 14 million right now, it doesn't seem like an impossible target to hit in three years.
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Stern on Letterman this Thursday (again)

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Stern on LettermanA replay of Howard Stern's appearance on David Letterman will air this Thursday, January 25th.

This apparently is a rerun from Stern's December 12th show as Gwen Stefani is listed as the musical guest. Luckily enough, you can just watch that episode here.

[CBS via Sirius Backstage

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FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal joins XM as "MLB Insider"

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MLB on XMMajor League Baseball field reporter and columnist Ken Rosenthal will become a weekly contributor to XMís baseball talk channel MLB Home Plate (ch 175) as XMís new "MLB Insider."

Starting today, Rosenthal will appear on XMís ďBaseball This MorningĒ with hosts Mark Patrick, Buck Martinez and Orestes Destrade. He will also make appearances on ďBaseball BeatĒ with Charley Steiner, and will appear on the MLB Home Plate channel when major news breaks on or off the field.

Ken Rosenthal is the lead field reporter for Fox TVís MLB coverage, as well as the senior baseball writer for FOXSports.com. Previously, he covered baseball for The Sporting News and served as baseball reporter and general sports columnist at The Baltimore Sun. Among his other claims to fame: His laptop computer once got smashed by a foul ball hit by fellow XM on-air host Cal Ripken.

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Sirius and XM at NAIAS 2007

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Orbitcast reader Jake went to NAIAS 2007 at Cobo Hall in Detroit this past week and was kind enough to give those of us who didn't attend a glimpse into the show. Like previous years, the satellite radio booths were set up in the basement (which hosts vintage and specialty cars, such as the U-M's solar car), apart from the regular event.

Click on the jump as Jake goes on to describe the booths (with photos) in full detail...
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NY Post: Lucrative Satellite Deals Vanishing

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Satellite Radio's Big Name Contracts
There's an interesting article in today's New York Post about the possibility of XM and Sirius no longer be signing, or renewing, the high-cost programming deals as they did in the prior years.

Deals like the NFL, Howard Stern and Martha Stewart on Sirius' end; with the MLB, and Oprah Winfrey on XM's end; were cited as being some examples of the lucrative deals signed. And of course the New York Post hints that these "rich paydays will expire when the contracts do."

But the fact of the matter is that the very earliest any of these contracts will expire is in 2009. If this article was written one-year ago, the headline most likely would have had a completely different tone. (Ah, the fickle media.) A lot can change in the next two years, and the circumstances in which a deal would be renewed would be based on the conditions when the contract is up.

Of course, the lack of newly signed "lucrative deals" shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Management from both Sirius and XM have said that the major content deals are over. And there's no doubt that either company would evaluate the value of each deal to determine it's renewal cost (or if it would be renewed at all).

Rightfully so, as both companies are in the business to make money, not sign deals at any cost.

Now what if XM and Sirius were to merge? RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank is cited in the article stating that, "a combined XM/Sirius would be able to negotiate a 20 percent decrease in each contract upon its renewal" thanks to the lack of competition in a merged entity.

Then again, what if the renewal deal wasn't lucrative enough for the content provider?

[New York Post via SSG]
Thanks Gary!

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New York Times on Satellite Radio Merger

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Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey
Joe Nocera has a nicely written piece in today's New York Times, I Want My Howard Stern and Oprah, that takes on the consumer's viewpoint... and he actually is in favor of a Sirius + XM merger.

It's an intriguing take on the situation, especially since in my half-hour conversation with Mr. Nocera the one quote he chose to include was the following:

"Choice is always a good thing," said Ryan Saghir, who blogs about satellite radio at Orbitcast.com — and opposes the idea of a merger.

It's an appropriate quote though because when I boil down my feelings on the rumored merger, especially from a consumer's standpoint (and one who subscribes to both services), I do believe that choice is always a good thing.

The article goes on to point out that since both services are mutually exclusive from each other, it actually reduces the amount of choice for the customer. This is especially the case when you look at automobile purchases, "nobody chooses a car based on whether it carries XM or Sirius," the article points out.

A significant aspect to highlight, especially for merger-hopefuls, is that former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt (who led the commission when it passed the rule preventing a satellite radio merger) said that he believes that the rule he helped formulate should be repealed. As Mr. Levin put it, "Circumstances have changed." (For those who are trying to keep pulse of what the FCC's underlying stance is on the possible merger, this may be your best indication yet.)

Nocera continues on with the theory that vehicles will eventually be Internet-enabled, at which point satellite radio will be "just another technology fighting to keep pace with the Internet." That with just under 14 million subscribers, satellite radio "has had a modest impact," and will eventually need to compete with "the greatest business model destroyer ever created: the Internet."

What Nocera fails to notice is that satellite radio is growing faster than any other consumer product sans the iPod. A fact that was highlighted in the New York Times only a couple weeks ago. While his piece is refreshingly fair and unbiased, the reality is that auto manufacturers are notoriously slow to adopt personal technologies (e.g., iPod jacks, Bluetooth, etc), and that the realistic expectation Internet in the car is quite a long ways away. It's not necessary for XM and Sirius to merge in order for them to survive.

But back to the issue of choice.

From a consumer's standpoint, it's not a merger that will allow for the increased availability of choice. Mergers never lead to more choice for the consumer (*cough* Comcast *cough*). XM and Sirius are far more than just Howard and Oprah, or NFL and MLB - the majority of what we listen to is music - and the result of a merger would be the inexcusable loss of the unique programming styles from both services. Those who say that the music offerings from XM and Sirius are "essentially the same" have obviously never listened to them.

No, the consumer doesn't need a merger. What the consumer needs is interoperability. Interoperability is something that is also mandated by the FCC, and hopefully soon, it's something that is becoming a reality.

[New York Times (subscription req'd)]

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XM's Use of Indoor Signal Boosters for "Establishments" Granted

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Digital Satellite Radio RepeaterXM Satellite Radio this week was granted a special authority by the FCC to operate 5,000 indoor signal boosters manufactured by Translight Video Systems (pictured).

The use of these indoor signal boosters is separate from in-store signal boosters, of which was also granted authority (for an additional 5,000) to both XM and Sirius this week. Instead, this indoor signal booster is meant for "inside stores and other establishments."

Similar in configuration to XM's currently authorized boosters, the antenna will be located on the roof or the outside of a store "or other structure" to receive the XM signal. The signal then is fed via a coaxial cable to an amplifier and antenna inside the establishment, will then amplifies the signal.

Interestingly enough, the inventor of Translight's Satellite Radio Repeater for In-Building Service, Dr. Mircho Davidov, was the Senior VP of Engineering and Chief Scientist responsible for the overall satellite system architecture at Sirius Satellite Radio.

The question remains: what "establishments" does XM intend on using these indoor mini-repeaters for?

PDF Read XM's Application Letter (PDF)
[via Satellite Radio TechWorld]

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Barbara Walters 'Best of the Very Best' Launching on Sirius

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Sirius' new one-hour weekly show, "Barbara Walters' Best of the Very Best," featuring select Barbara Walters interviews with world leaders and newsmakers over the past 30 years, is launching this Monday, January 22nd on Sirius Stars (ch 102).

The theme of the premiere show is "Leading Ladies," and featuring Walters' interviews with Audrey Hepburn, Diane Keaton, and Sophia Loren. Other episodes will include dynamic interviews with personalities ranging from Hillary Clinton to Muhammad Ali to Tom Hanks to Lance Armstrong (to name only a few).

The show will air every Monday from 6am - 7am ET, with replays at 11am, 1pm, 6pm, 8pm and 10pm ET, on SIRIUS Stars.

Barbara will also host a live call-in special, "Barbara Walters' Academy Awards Special," which airs on February 19th, 2007 from 6pm - 7pm ET, the week leading up to her Oscar special on ABC-TV.

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RIAA vs XM Lawsuit: View full text of the ruling

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Want to view the full text of Judge's ruling to proceed to trial for the RIAA vs. XM Satellite Radio lawsuit? Sure you do.

PDF Ruling for XM's Motion to Dismiss (PDF)

(and for you lazy clickers, the full text is also available after the jump...) 

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RIAA vs XM: Clarification on Judge's Ruling

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XM vs RIAAJust a couple thoughts regarding U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts' ruling in favor of the RIAA to allow the lawsuit to go to trial.

Remember that this was a Motion to Dismiss in that XM had asked the Judge to throw out the RIAA's lawsuit - pointing out that the Inno was built according to the AHRA, and that the AHRA mandates the case be thrown out. The Judge is essentially stating in her ruling that the AHRA does not insulate XM from the case proceeding.

Why? Because XM controls both ends. They have control over the device side (the recorder), and the broadcast side (the content), and so the decision behind the case is a bit more complicated. There hasn't been any conclusion that XM has violated their license, just that the case should go to trial.

Make sense? 

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RIAA vs XM Lawsuit: Judge Rules in Favor of Record Companies

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Inno HelixIn the lawsuit brought on by the RIAA vs XM Satellite Radio against their XM+MP3 devices, U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts has ruled that the suit can go to trial, finding merit the RIAA's claims.

XM argued that the XM+MP3 devices (i.e, the Inno, Helix, and Nexus) are protected by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, which permits individuals to record music off the radio for private use. The judge said she did not believe XM was protected in this instance by the act.

The judge also said that XM operates like traditional radio broadcaster, but by broadcasting and storing copyrighted music for later recording by the consumer, the judge said XM is both a broadcaster and a distributor, but is only paying to be a broadcaster. This is a fundamentally incorrect statement. XM and Sirius do not pay the same broadcaster fees as a "traditional radio broadcaster" does (terrestrial radio in fact does not pay a single dime to the record companies)..

Batts also felt that the comparison of the XM+MP3 player and a cassette recorder is unfounded: "It is manifestly apparent that the use of a radio-cassette player to record songs played over free radio does not threaten the market for copyrighted works as does the use of a recorder which stores songs from private radio broadcasts on a subscription fee basis," she said.

So apparently the difference is that recording songs over free radio is OK, but recording songs over subscription radio is not.

XM issued this statement:

"At this stage of the proceeding, the court's ruling is required to be based on the false characterizations set forth in the plaintiffs' complaint. The real facts strongly support our view that the lawsuit is barred by the Audio Home Recording Act. We look forward to making our case in court."

[MSNBC]
Thanks to Jeff & Ian! 

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Sirius, XM Merger: A concerning sense of urgency

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Satellite Radio MergerTwo days ago FCC Chairman Kevin Martin only stated the obvious - that the current rules prohibit a merger. As a result, both stocks took a nose dive. Then yesterday, Martin again only stated the obvious - that the rules can always be change. As a result, both stocks were sent soaring.

Whether or not a merger would or would not happen (and remember this is all based on speculation), you have to wonder why everyone is so worked up over this issue. More importantly, why are we not concerned about it?

Mark Ramsey puts it perfectly, "A merger is not a business strategy in a time of apparently declining demand, is it? It's a retreat strategy." 

Originally this merger talk seemed to be just a distraction, just hype meant to drive the stocks up. But now the subject seems to be getting more and more pressing. Nearly every analyst is now talking about a possible merger. And there's something concerning to me about this increase sense of urgency.

It's not screaming to me anything about "synergies" and a "stronger position" in the market. It's telling me that both companies screwed up the business model. It's saying that they overestimated the number of potential total subscribers. It's saying that unless they join forces to create an unnatural balance of power, that there's little chance for this media/technology to survive.

And none of that sounds good to me. 

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FCC: Satellite Radio Merger Rules Can Be Changed

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Sirius + XMMerger hopefuls who's dreams were dashed yesterday can get excited again. The FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said today that the rules barring a merger between XM and Sirius could be altered, if requested.

Martin, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference in New York, said he was not aware of any request to change the rule on satellite radio licensing ownership.

[Reuters

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Penny Crone, George Flowers Leave Howard 100 News

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Howard 100 NewsPenny Crone has left Howard Stern's "Howard 100 News" on Sirius Satellite Radio due of budget cuts, according to a report by the New York Daily News. George Flowers has also left Howard 100 News.

Crone, a former WNYW Fox 5 New York TV news reporter, joined Howard 100 News a little over a year ago. 

Howard mentioned on today's show that Penny may be able to fill in when needed and that she may be able to contribute on Howard TV.

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Sirius to Air New Texas Music Show

TexasSirius is launching a new program, entitled "Deep in the Heart of Texas," that showcases the best music from the Lone Star State on Outlaw Country (ch 63).

The new program features Texas music legends like Bob Wills, Ray Price, and Willie Nelson, as well as artists who are known for their Texas roots and sound, including Lefty Frizzell, Dixie Chicks, Jerry Jeff Walker, Joe Ely, Kelly Willis, James McMurtry, and Billy Joe Shaver. The show will also feature live performances and artist interviews, and also showcase the latest breaking artists on the Texas scene.

"Deep in the Heart of Texas" airs on Saturdays from 8pm to 12-midnight ET, with replays on Sundays from 12-midnight to 4am ET.

Study: HD Radio Sales Estimate Reduced

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HD RadioAccording to a recent study by Bridge Ratings, the percentage of respondents who would be interested in purchasing an HD Radio has dropped in the past six months.

As a result Bridge has reduced their original projections for full year 2007 HD Radio sales from 2.1 million to 1.5 million total HD Radio units sold. The study also shows that "awareness" of HD Radio is on the rise, something that terrestrial radio fanboys trade publications would rather focus on, though they are completely ignoring the reduction in full year sales estimates.

Oddly enough, while "awareness" of HD Radio is climbing, knowledge of what exactly HD Radio does is on  the decline. This most likely has to do with the brand confusion between HD Radio and HDTV. Everyone knows what HDTV is, so it's a pretty simple jump to be aware of HD Radio - so perhaps general awareness of the term "HD" is just on the rise itself.

One thing I'd like to kindly point out to the boys at Bridge Ratings. In their 2nd question they asked respondents: Do You know what HD or High Definition Radio is or what it does? - this question in syntactically incorrect. The fact is, the "HD" in "HD Radio" doesn't stand for "high-definition" as it's television brethren does.

As Peter Ferrera, president and CEO of the HD Digital Radio Alliance said, "Quite honestly, it [HD Radio] doesn't stand for anything. The concept was somewhat of a steal from HD television, where viewers know it means better quality"

And Bridge's study punctuates that point.

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FCC Chairman Says Rules Ban Satellite Radio Merger

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Satellite RadioGee, who saw this coming? The FCC Chairman today indicated that Sirius and XM Satellite Radio wouldn't win approval of a merger under current U.S. Federal Communications Commission rules.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told reporters during a news conference that "there's a prohibition on one entity owning both of those licenses." He is of course talking about the key Safeguard established by the FCC in March 1997 that dictated the policies for the new satellite radio services.

The comments made by Martin sent shares of both companies tumbling. XMSR closed down by 9.86% and Sirius down 6.99% today. And for those who believe that there's still a possibility for the FCC to change the rules, based on satellite radio being considered as part of a "greater" marketplace, Satellite Radio TechWorld has insightfully pointed out that the FCC already considered this under the current rules (emphasis added):

77. Although spectrum constraints limit us to licensing just two satellite DARS systems at this time, our licensing approach nonetheless provides the opportunity for a competitive DARS service. Our goal is to create as competitive a market structure as possible, while permitting each DARS provider to offer sufficient channels for a viable service. In the Notice, we pointed out that "satellite DARS will face competition from terrestrial radio services, CD players in automobiles and homes, and audio services delivered as part of cable and satellite services," and asked whether these delivery media, coupled with fewer than four DARS providers, could ensure an effectively competitive audio services market.

PDF View the FCC Report & Order (PDF) that details the rules and policies set for satellite radio. It's not necessarily the most exciting read in the world, but at least it will answer any regulatory questions you might have over the possibility of a merger. I'm surprised it's actually taken this long to come out with this.

So with that out of the way, what ever will we talk about now?

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Satellite Radio Retail Sales Doldrums Continued in December

| 26 Comments
December NPD Satellite Radio Retail NumbersNPD Group's December sales data have shown a continued consecutive decline - unsurprisingly - in satellite radio retail demand.

For the fifth month in a row, year-over-year retail sales are on the downslide (if you're keeping track -- August: -3%; September: -12%; October: -25%; November: -45%) to a whopping 46% decline in year-over-year unit sales for December 2006.

The Quick Glance:

  • Sirius December 2006 Retail Sales:
    Down 40% YoY
  • XM December 2006 Retail Sales:
    Down 55% YoY

Marketshare:

  • Sirius Dec '06 Retail Marketshare: 66%
  • XM Dec '06 Retail Marketshare: 34%

The obvious big news here is that XM gave up such a massive amount of retail marketshare to Sirius in December. Sirius definitely executed better in retail (as obvious with their impressive Q4 net subscriber additions as well), but it's still a bit surprising to see XM's retail marketshare down so severely.

Yes, Sirius had a larger number of discounted receivers available during the holiday season than XM, but I think their continued brand exposure (thanks to Stern) probably played a roll in their retail dominance as well. I'd be curious to see if there was any financial downside to get this result though. Regardless, now is a time for Sirius peeps to celebrate, they did a bang-up job last month.

26 Comments

Sirius to Air Bam Margera's Bachelor Party Live from Vegas

| 21 Comments

Bam Margera and Missy RothsteinBam Margera will be broadcasting his Sirius Satellite Radio show, "Radio Bam," live from his own bachelor party in Las Vegas, on Monday, January 22nd at 7pm ET on Sirius Faction (ch 28).

As the skateboarder/movie/television personality prepares to marry fiancée Missy Rothstein, he will celebrate his last days of being single on the Strip in Las Vegas, and will capture it live for his show. 

Margera, who has hosted "Radio Bam" since October 2004, announced recently that Iggy Pop and The Stooges, along with The Sounds, will perform at his wedding to Rothstein.

Margera and Rothstein are currently shooting the new MTV reality series, "Bam's Unholy Union."

21 Comments

XM Satelite Radio to sponsor Indy 300

| 8 Comments

Danica PatrickXM Satellite Radio will be the title-sponsor of the IndyCar Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway: the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300.

Held on Saturday, March 24th, the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 is scheduled to start at 8pm ET. The race will of course be broadcast live on XM’s IndyCar Series channel (ch 145).

While this is the sixth consecutive year that Homestead-Miami Speedway has kicked off the IndyCar Series, this will be the first time in the history of open wheel racing that a season opening race will be held at night and the winner crowned under the lights.

And yes, I'll jump at the chance to post any photo of Danica Patrick that I can... just because.

[The Charlotte Observer

8 Comments

Sirius Satellite Radio to Stream CNN Online

| 4 Comments
CNN on Sirius OnlineSirius Satellite Radio is finally streaming CNN through their online internet radio service to subscribers. Of course Sirius also broadcasts CNN on their regular satellite radio service as well (ch 132).

Regular Sirius subscribers, as well as Sirius Internet Radio (SIR) subscribers get to receive the CNN channel online. While Sirius airs CNN Headline News on its satellite radio service (ch 133) and CNN en Espanol on channel 182, neither CNN Headline News or CNN en Espanol are available online yet.

Still this is great news as news channels are severely lacking on the online offering of both satellite radio services.

[Reuters

4 Comments

CES: SiriusConnect Adapter for GM-LAN Vehicles

| 14 Comments


SiriusConnect Adapters for GM LAN Vehicles

If you're the owner of a newer GM vehicle, you could very well have a GMLAN equipped system. If that's the case, then the GM SiriusConnect SIRGM1 adapter to convert your headunit to receive Sirius (instead of XM) won't work for you.

Enter the SiriusConnect GML-SC1 GM-LAN Vehicles. It allows for control and playback of Sirius through the GM-LAN headunit and connects to the new line of SiriusConnect tuners like the SC-C1 Universal Vehicle Tuner, and the SC-VDOC1 Universal Vehicle Dock.

It's compatible with many 2006+ GM-LAN vehicles, in both 11-bit or 29-bit versions, and maintains all factory accessories.

Available in Spring 2007. 

14 Comments

Visteon HD Jump: HD Radio's Answer to the Plug & Play (Look out Sat Rad!)

| 21 Comments

Visteon HD Jump
Introducing HD Radio's answer to the plug-and-play radio, the Visteon HD Jump. With HD Radio OEM units running a cool 500-clams, a cheaper add-on solution is necessary (because, y'know, market demand is so high). So the HD Jump is here to supply the yearning masses for all their HD Radio needs.

HD Jump
Now this is state-of-the-art technology here folks. The HD Jump offers a full spectrum of features, including "real-time" song title, artist and album information (amazing!) plus the HD Jump has multicasting capabilities (if you can find one).

HD Jump
Note the gorgeous, and modern-looking, monochromatic display. The six preset buttons allow you to store up to 18 different stations (if you can find them). I liken the large tactile control knob to that of the iPod - just spin it and select what station you want to listen to!

HD Jump
The HD Jump features an FM modulator, so you can interface with your regular car or home radio. Sure, you'll be going from "crystal-clear" HD digital radio back to analog FM radio, but it's worth it to get all that compelling content.

HD Jump
The thin profile is quite attractive and would hardly be noticeable on your dashboard. With the built-in AUX jack so you can plug in your iPod, the HD Jump does it all!

The HD Jump is expected to retail for only $200, and should be available this Spring. Can't wait!

21 Comments

CES: SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Tuner SC-C1

| 8 Comments

SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Tuner SC-C1
The SC-C1 SiriusConnect Vehicle Tuner is a compact component that can seamlessy integrate with any Sirius-Ready or SAT Radio Ready headunit when combined with a specialty SiriusConnect interface bus translator.

SiriusConnect Vehicle Tuner SC-C1
Features include:

  • Compact size for hidden installation
  • Interface cable integrates power, audio and control through a single connection
  • Compatible with the next generation of SiriusConnect interface translators


The SC-C1 Kit includes:

  • A mini magnetic antenna
  • SiriusConnect interface cable
  • Removable mounting plate

SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Tuner SC-C1
Like the SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Dock, this is all part of Sirius' next-generation SiriusConnect setup for vehicles.

The SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Tuner SC-C1 with go for an MSRP price of $49.95 and is expected to be available in Spring 2007.

8 Comments

XM+Sirius Merger: The Regulatory "Achilles Heel"

| 5 Comments

Bank of America analyst Jonathan Jacoby wrote in a research note today that the "Achilles heel for sat radio" could be the existence of a regulation the requires two satellite radio operators. This could effectively bring a merger between XM and Sirius to a regulatory halt.

Under the FCC's rules auctioning satellite raido's DARS licenses, there are several "safeguards" in place, and one especially where the FCC specifically addresses transfers of the licenses. Here's what it reads (emphasis added):

Transfers. We note that DARS licensees, like other satellite licensees, will be subject to rule 25.118, which prohibits transfers or assignments of licenses except upon application to the Commission and upon a finding by the Commission that the public interest would be served thereby. Even after DARS licenses are granted, one licensee will not be permitted to acquire control of the other remaining satellite DARS license. This prohibition on transfer of control will help assure sufficient continuing competition in the provision of satellite DARS service.

Jacoby notes that the FCC may not be able to simply waive this procedural hurdle - it would have to be formally changed. So not only would the market that satellite radio competes in need to be redefined (is it competitive to terrestrial radio AND digital media like portable music players?), but also the FCC's own DARS license would need to be redefined.

As RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank points out in a report... the clock is ticking. Bank believes that if a Democratic (or potentially an even less receptive Republican) helmed administration comes into office, it might "offer much greater resistance than the current regulatory framework."

The clock is definitely ticking. Jacoby believes that a merger would have to be announced in the next 4-8 weeks if there's a "reasonable chance of clearing regulatory hurdles" before the 2008 elections. Youch.

5 Comments

CES: SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Dock SC-VDOC1

| 26 Comments

SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Dock
Introducing the SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Dock (SC-VDOC1). It allows Sirius Plug-and-Play receivers (with the latest generation of "universal" ports) to be connected to and controlled by SIRIUS-Ready headunits (including OEM headunits) when combined with specialty SiriusConnect interface bus translators.

 SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Dock SC-VDOC1

Features:

  • Sirius Universal Docking capability (such as with the Sportster4, Stiletto, Starmate4, Stratus, etc)
  • Compact size and various mounting options for easy install
  • Interface cable integrates power, audio and control through a single connection - providing a direct audio connection to the headunit
  • Compatible with the next-gen SiriusConnet interface translators
  • Locking with push-button release creates a secure connection

Includes:
  • SC-VDOC1 universal dock
  • Changeable adapter plates for Stiletto, Sportster, Starmate/Stratus products
  • SiriusConnect interface cable
  • Mini magnetic antenna


The SiriusConnect Universal Vehicle Dock SC-VDOC1 with go for an MSRP price of $49.95 and is expected to be available in Spring 2007.

(Did you think the CES coverage was over? Not even close, I just took a break for a couple days to take care of a house full of sick little-ones.)

26 Comments

New Anti-Merger Satellite Radio Advocacy Group

| 10 Comments

Satellite RadioEnter the "Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio" ("C3SR"), a group of law students at the George Washington University who have formed the organization in protest to XM and Sirius Satellite Radio merger rumors.

"The competitive duopoly in satellite digital radio created by the FCC in 1997 is clearly at risk," according to Chris Reale, one of C3SR's founding members. "If the only two companies operating in the satellite radio industry are permitted to combine, consumers not only will lose their choice, but they will be totally at the mercy of a monopoly provider."

While I agree with his statement and it's admirable that a consumer advocacy group was formed (albeit, based on rumors) I'm not exactly sure what affect they could have. It's the response of the subscribers themselves (would it be a positive or negative response? no one really knows what would happen yet) that would make the most difference.

10 Comments

CES: XM's New Mini-Tuner Car Stereos

| 15 Comments

XM Mini-Tuner Car Stereos

Ding dong, the Plug-and-Play is dead. That's the first thing that came to mind when I saw this display of XM Mini-Tuner enabled car stereos.

No longer would we need a fish-finder stuck to our windshield. No longer would wires be running across my dashboard. The car stereo has finally whole-heartedly taken on satellite radio, and with the XM Mini-Tuner, I can take my subscription with me anywhere!

What you see above is XM's display for new car stereo headunits (and the bottom two are marine stereos) at CES this year. On the outside, it doesn't appear impressive (hell, they're just stereos), but that's partially why I feel they're so desirable. These are perhaps the most significant receivers on display at CES.

Follow the jump to read on, and of course, to see a ton of pics...

15 Comments

CES: Audiovox XM2go X2G-100

| 8 Comments

We already know all about the upcoming Audiovox XM2go handheld XM satellite radio receiver, but here's some shots of the device from CES. The black skin actually looks really cool.

Audiovox XM2go 

Audiovox XM2go 

One more shot of the Audiovox XM2go docked within the Belkin Portable Audio System, after the jump...

8 Comments

James Levine Celebration on Sirius' Metropolitan Opera Radio

Metropolitan Opera RadioSirius Satellite Radio's Metropolitan Opera Radio (ch 85) will broadcast a week-long series of archival broadcasts led by Met Music Director James Levine.

Presented in honor of Maestro Levine's 35th anniversary at the Met, the celebration starts on Monday, January 15th, and features broadcasts spanning from 1973 through 2005, including the complete Ring Cycle that was presented by the Met in March/April 2000. Don't worry, the series is scheduled during a week without live opera performances at the Met, so you're not missing anything.

In the 35 years since his Met Opera debut, James Levine has led more than two thousand performances of 80 different operas at the Met. Maestro Levine has personally selected every opera that will air during this special week and he will share his thoughts and memories of each performance in taped interviews preceding each opera.  

See the full broadcast schedule of the "James Levine: 35 Years with the Metropolitan Opera" series, after the jump...

FCC Chairman Hints That XM + Sirius Merger Would Be Blocked

| 4 Comments
XM + Sirius MergerWhile the rumored merger announcement from XM and Sirius at NAIAS obviously didn't happen yesterday (did we really think it would?), the topic about a potential merger continues to go on. Now again, remember that there's a huge difference between the two companies wanting a merger, and whether or not it would actually ever happen. Personally, I don't think it would - nor do I feel it's the best outcome from a consumer's standpoint either.

At this week's Citigroup investor conference, we got a brief glimpse as to the FCC's stance on the matter. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was at the event and was asked about the concept of a merger between Sirius and XM, and he hinted that it would potentially be held up by the FCC.

While the FCC Chairman didn't take a specific stance on the issue, he's quoted by Inside Radio as saying that the closest situation would be the way the Commission handled "what we did on [satellite] television," referring to the blocked merger between DirecTV and Dish Network (Echostar).

This comes as no surprise either. The DirecTV/Echostar merger was blocked because it would create a monopoly in areas where there is no terrestrial signal. There is absolutely no difference with radio, regardless of whether you think satellite radio competes with iPods and Internet content (both of which have video capabilities by the way). So you have to wonder why management from Sirius, and now apparently XM, are still "open" to the idea.

Perhaps with yet another three quarters of negative cash flow ahead of us - and The Street having unrealistically high expectations for subscriber numbers this year - maybe management is looking to keep speculative fires of a merger going, just a little bit longer?
4 Comments

CES: Jensen NVXM1000 "Rock-n-Road" GPS with XM Radio

| 3 Comments

Jensen NVXM1000

The Jensen NVXM1000 GPS with XM Satellite Radio - nicknamed the "Rock-n-Road" (ha! ya' get it?!) - features a built in slot for the XM Mini-Tuner as well as a full featured navigation system and an 8GB hard-drive. The device provides full U.S. and Canada mapping, plus over 11 million Points of Interest, on a beautiful 4-inch color touchscreen display.

Turn-by-turn voice prompts are provided in 12 languages (just in case) and it's powered by a built-in rechargeable Li-Poly battery. There is also an optional rear-view camera to check blind spots and an FM modulator that allows you to hear navigational instructions or XM programming through your car's speakers.

Jensen NVXM1000
Plus there's that built-in XM Mini-Tuner slot (pictured above), that by simply popping in a $30 XM Mini-Tuner, enables the NVXM1000 to receive all your favorite XM Satellite Radio channels.

Jensen NVXM1000
The Jensen NVXM1000 "Rock-n-Road" GPS/XM nav system will go for an MSRP price of $999.99 and will be available this Spring.

Check out a ton more photos of it after the jump... and for the record, after playing with this thing, I want it - badly. 

3 Comments

XM Canada Acheives 147,000 Subscribers, Reports First-Quarter Financials

| 1 Comment
XM CanadaXM Canada has announced that they've reach 147,000 subscribers and reported their financial results for the first quarter (which ended November 30, 2006).

"XM Canada now controls an 80 per cent share of the factory installed satellite radios in 2007," Chairman and CEO, John Bitove, said in a statement, "We are well on our way to achieving our goal of one million subscribers by 2010. We are also on track to achieve our goal of realizing an operating profit of $100 million by 2012."

For the three-month period ended November 30, 2006, XM Canada reported that revenue increased 12% over the previous quarter, to $3.8 million. Adjusted Operating Loses for the period was $12.8 million, ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit) was $11.30 and SAC (Subscriber Acquisition Costs) was $46, down from $59 in the previous quarter. CPGA (Cost Per Gross Addition) was up to $311, from the previous quarter of $242, thanks to the increased advertising spending for the holiday selling season.

[Press Release]
1 Comment

New Senate Bill Targets Satellite Radio

| 10 Comments

Capitol HillA new year, a new Congress, a new set of challenges. Only days after the 110th Congress was sworn in, a new anti-satellite radio bill is hitting the Senate that reintroduces the basic concepts of The Perform Act.

This time it's championed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Joseph Biden (D-DE) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Thankfully though, Senator Feinstein seems to be without the support of Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

The bill would set new rules for the satellite radio medium - creating new rates and content standards supposedly similar to those of Internet radio - and it's unsurprisingly supported by the oh-so-popular RIAA. The RIAA's Chairman/CEO Mitch Bainwol stated:

"This early play by Sen. Feinstein and her colleagues should leave no doubt that policymakers continue to view parity among digital music services as a top priority. And a top priority it should be. Under the current system, satellite radio has been allowed to morph into a digital distribution service – shorting the creators of music, displacing licensed sales and threatening the integrity of the digital music marketplace in the process. We love satellite radio. But this is simply no way to do business.  It’s in everyone’s best interest to ensure a marketplace where fair competition can thrive.”

 Here we go again.

[via FMQB]

10 Comments

CES: Audiovox Audiovox DV7300XM Home Theater System

| 2 Comments

Audiovox DV7300XM
If you can say anything about Audiovox, you can say that they're dedicated to bringing the XM Mini-Tuner to market in a big way. As part of the onslaught of new Mini-Tuner compatible products, the Audiovox DV7300XM Home Theater System joins the fray with 300-watts of high-quality audio performance and a host of other features.

The DV7300XM will fill a room with high-quality sound to support any movie, concert, etc - and when you add in the Mini-Tuner docking station, you have the complete home theater package.

Audiovox DV7300XM 

Audiovox DV7300XM 

The Audiovox DV7300XM Home Theater System will go for an MSRP price of only $199.95.

2 Comments

Buzz Brainard of KZLA to host new Sirius show

| 3 Comments

Buzz BrainardBuzz Brainard, a former host on KZLA/Los Angeles (and the last Country Music station in L.A.), will host a new show on Sirius Satellite Radio entitled "Y'Allternative" on Sirius New Country (ch 60).

The show which is a new "alternative country music" program, will kick off tomorrow (January 12th) and will air every Friday at 11pm ET. "Y'Allternative" will replay on Sundays at 12am ET.

Brainard, who will host Y'Allternative from Sirius' Los Angeles studio, was part of country radio station KZLA's morning show from 2000 to 2005, and is host of the weekly television program, "This Week in Baseball." He is also the voice of the Disney Channel and narrates the syndicated TV show "Maximum Exposure."

3 Comments

CES: Audiovox CE547XM Micro-Shelf System

Audiovox CE547XM
The Audiovox CE547XM Micro-Shelf System includes an XM Mini-Tuner docking station in addition to AM-FM and CD functionality.

The CE546XM has a full-range speaker system consisting of wooden speaker boxes and cloth grilles for the truest sound reproduction, delivered by 20-watts of output power. It's the kind of tonal quality that can only be obtained from tried-and-true wood-constructed speakers.

Audiovox CE547XM 

The Audiovox CE547XM Micro-Shelf System will sell for an MSRP price of only $129.95. 

Sirius Backseat TV: Pricing and Content Learned?

| 4 Comments

Sirius Backseat TV

With the unveiling of the SiriusConnect SC-V1 Audio/Video Tuner, the question remains about the service that feeds the video content to this system - current entitled Sirius Backseat TV.

According to sources, Sirius Backseat TV will be offered for approximately $6.99/month. This is a separate subscription from the regular Sirius Satellite Radio subscription.

These sources also claim that three channels will be made available for the service - all targeting children. While no details on the source of the content, Sirius was showing Cartoon Network programming at CES. So here's a bit of history on Cartoon Network, and the likely possibilities for channel content, should a deal with Cartoon Network actually be real:

In September of 2006, Cartoon Network launched Cartoon Network Video - and online video service that is currently only available in the U.S. In July of 2006, Cartoon Network and VIZ Media launched Toonami Jetstream which provides online streaming video of Cartoon Network content. Toonami is also the brand owned by Turner Broadcasting (who owns Cartoon Network) for an action-oriented animation channel in the UK. Turner also owns Boomerang, which is a subset of Cartoon Network (and is a popular channel overseas - especially in the UK where it beats out BBC Kids).

Again this is all speculative, so a grain of salt may be appropriate at this time.

4 Comments

CES: Audiovox XM Mini-Tuner/iPod Desktop Radios

| 6 Comments

Audiovox XM Mini-Tuner/iPod Radios
Audiovox unveiled two desktop radios equipped with the XM Mini-Tuner docking capability and an iPod docking station that will play and charge your iPod at CES 2007. And yes, they're also alarm clocks.

Audiovox XRC200
The Audiovox XRC200 Desktop Radio, along with the ability to accept the XM Mini-Tuner, has a CD Media Center that will play back CD-DA, MP3, WMA, CD and CD-R/RW. It's driven by an amplifier with the power to deliver "concert hall-like quality." For those begging for an XM Mini-Tuner equipped alarm clock, the XRC200 provides multiple alarm-snooze-sleep and time settings from 30 to 90 minutes.

Also included are AM, FM and CD playback and an iPod docking station that will play and charge your iPod. The XRC200 will go for an MSRP price of $229.95.

Audiovox XR100
The Audiovox XR100 Desktop Radio combines high-quality sound with attractive, "fits-anyplace" cosmetics. There's a built-in Mini-Tuner docking station (shown after the jump) as well as 30 presets for XM, AM and FM.

Like it's big sister, the XR100 has an iPod docking station to play and charge your iPod. It also serves as a dual alarm clock with settings for people on different wake-up schedules.

The XR100 will go for an MSRP price of $119.95.

Check out additional photos of the XR100 showing where the XM Mini-Tuner docks in after the jump...

6 Comments

49th Annual GRAMMY Awards on XM Satellite Radio

| 1 Comment

GRAMMY Awards on XM
XM Satellite Radio is launching "GRAMMY Radio" on XM LIVE (ch 200) starting on February 9th through February 11th, which just happens to be the evening of the 49th Annual GRAMMY Awards.

GRAMMY Radio will feature the first live broadcast of the GRAMMY Awards, red-carpet interviews from the GRAMMY Awards , and broadcasts of the performances the dreamy superstar artists during GRAMMY Week.

On top of GRAMMY Radio and related GRAMMY programming, XM has launched "XM Star Treatment: A Night at The GRAMMYs" a sweepstakes put together with Circuit City. Peeps who purchase and activate an XM radio from Circuit City through January 27th will be eligible to win tickets to the GRAMMY Awards telecast, plus hotel and airfare, behind the scenes access and more.

And if you want to follow the journey to the GRAMMYs with XM, go check out the new XM GRAMMY Blog

1 Comment

CES: Audiovox DV7600XM XM Mini-Tuner Home Theater System

| 2 Comments

Audiovox DV7600XM
The Audiovox DV7600XM is a 600-Watt 5.1 Dolby Home Theater System with a XM Mini-Tuner docking station.

It provides an impressive audio show, supported by five satellite speakers and a passive subwoofer. Perfect product for anyone buying a home theater system and with the added mobility of the XM Mini-Tuner, you can take your XM subscription with you.

Audiovox DV7600XM 

The DV7600XM XM Mini-Tuner Home Theater System will go for an MSRP price of $159.95.

2 Comments

XM-Sirius Merger Plans to be Announced Today?

| 36 Comments

XM-Sirius MergerAccording to theflyonthewall.com, XM and Sirius are expected to make an announcement at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit - today 01/11/2007.

Bank of America analyst Jonathan Jacoby met with XM Management at CES earlier this week, and it is his view that XM is considering the merger option quite seriously. Citigroup analyst Eileen Furukawa after an investor dinner with Gary Parsons also noted a she "sensed an increased openness from XM re: the possibility of merger with Sirius."

Now mind you, there's a big difference between these two companies wanting a merger, and whether it will really happen (see my 5 reasons why it won't happen post). There's many hurdles along the way, especially the "balance of power" between the two companies in this newly formed entity, but this is a clear shift in XM's previous position on the merger itself.

From an investor's standpoint: Bear Stearn analyst Robert Peck said it perfectly in a recent note, "the possibility of a merger has likely been the single most important factor impacting valuations recently."

From a customer's standpoint: is this really the best thing? Who knows, but at this point it's way to early to even consider the implications of a merger actually going through.

36 Comments

CES: XM ParkingLink, XM Weather Tracking, XM Satellite Video

| 6 Comments

I crawled around the XM "Infotainment" vehicle which showcased a lot of XM's latest capabilities, and to my regret I didn't snap off nearly as many shots as I should have. The reason being that I was so into it that my camera was left by my side while I was awed by this technology.

Either way, here's what few shots I have. Though they don't do it any justice.  

XM ParkingLink
First up is XM ParkingLink, which was unveiled at last year's CES, though it appears that the interface has been improved.

Right now it's in beta in select cities, XM is partnered with Standard Parking to integrate the sensors into their parking spaces. With these embedded sensors, you can literally see how many parking spots are available at surround parking lots in your area.

Note the color coding so you can quickly see what lots are full while driving.

XM Mobile Video
Then there's XM's Satellite Video capabilities. I say "capabilities" because the XM infrastructure can currently support video, but they just haven't seen a business model to make it a worthwhile effort yet.

XMWX Weather
More pics, and a tour of XM Weather Tracking (not the official name), available after the jump...

6 Comments

Notes from Mel Karmazin's Keynote at Citigroup Media & Telecom Conference

| 6 Comments

Mel KarmazinSirius Backstage has a nice set of notes outlining Mel Karmazin's keynote at the Citigroup Media & Telecom Conference in Las Vegas today.

A few key takeaways are that Karmazin doesn't like the lifetime subscriptions because they're the biggest fans. Also a subscription price hike is possible, but not currently at this time.

Hey also said that he felt that portable products don't have mass-market appeal, but that Sirius is thinking about a relationship with a portable media player company.

[via Sirius Backstage]

6 Comments

CES: The new XM CommanderMT

| 3 Comments

XM CommanderMT
The new XM CommanderMT universal satellite radio receiver delivers XM to any FM car stereo, regardless of make, model, or year. Updated from the original, the new CommanderMT adds support for, you guessed it, the XM Mini-Tuner.

More than a plug-and-play, the newly renovated CommanderMT is meant specifically for the car by integrating the slim, sleek faceplate seamlessly into the dashboard.

But for the added mobility of the plug-and-play, the CommanderMT now works with the removable XM Mini-Tuner cartridge, rather than a traditional tuner box. So if you want to take your XM with you - just pop the tiny Mini-Tuner into your pocket, instead of the entire PnP unit.

XM CommanderMT 

One of the interesting thoughts with "the return of the Commander" is that this is essentially embracing the professional install. Since the FCC-mandated changes to the FM modulator now pretty much makes professional install a requirement for any plug-and-play unit (or at least, a more complicated DYI install). So if you're going to go through the trouble of doing that, then you might as well have it integrated into your car.

The CommanderMT is essentially targeting those who want to keep their existing headunit (whether it be an aftermarket, or stock, headunit).

More pics after the jump... 

3 Comments

The Implications of the Apple iPhone to the Satellite Radio Industry

| 21 Comments

Apple iPhoneYesterday Apple dropped a bombshell on the entire tech industry. The most anticipated product of, well ever, was unveiled. And in a way that it seems only Apple can do - it exceeded anyone's expectations.

From the satellite radio industry's perspective, superficially it serves as a "no threat" product, because Apple intentionally downplayed any over-the-air music capabilities. This is smart from Apple's standpoint, because over-the-air downloads are useless to say the least. It's not about convergence, it's about integration. The iPhone won't replace the iPod, but it will most definitely replace your cell phone (even if you need to convince your wife). People have a lot of data that they want to take with them, and the iPhone is the enabler of this.

But the satellite radio industry shouldn't be breathing a sigh of relief just yet.

The iPhone, like the iPod, like Chrysler's MyGig, like Ford's Sync, and like the hundreds of other digital music products out there are all vying for one thing - your ear. Discovery or not, these are all products that erode away at a person's listening time. And satellite radio needs to compete with that.

If there's one thing that Apple knows, it's sex. The iPhone is sexy. So sexy that you want it just from seeing photos of it. Price rationale goes out the window because it's overruled by desire. And XM and Sirius really need to learn how to make their products sexier. Creating sexy products makes others look over your shoulder while you're using it. Sex creates the kind of buzz that you just can't buy.

If we really want to reignite the retail industry, we need to stop thinking like engineers and start thinking like porn stars. 

21 Comments

CES: Delphi Premium Sound System

Delphi Premium Sound System

The Delphi Premium Sound System was unveiled this week at CES. Now, before we go any further I have to say - don't call this a boombox - because it sounds too good to be lumped in with a boombox.

The Premium Sound System is compatible with the Delphi SkyFi3, Roady XT, MyFi and the Audiovox Xpress. It's also compatible with the Inno, Helix and Audiovox XM2go with an optional cradle. It's powered by an AC adapter, and by battery (with a battery-switch that allows you to protect the battery power completely).

Delphi's Premium Sound System also features some serious advanced acoustic systems. With dual DSPs (digital signal processors) and a bass enhancer that gives a rich sound even at low levels, the Premium Sound System delivers a quality of sound not usually found in this price range.

Delphi Premium Sound System 

The unit comes with an integrated handle, and a compact design that stows the antenna away internally. Covering the hidden antenna is a special plastic that allows the satellite signal to penetrate without any loss. With the cover removed, you can remove the antenna and run it to any place that allows for a better signal. This is great for people who live in strong terrestrial signal areas and who don't need to run the antenna.

Delphi Premium Sound System 

The Delphi Premium Sound System will go for an MSRP price of $179, and will be available this Spring. 

Hands On with the Bushnell ONIX400 XM/GPS/Weather Tracker

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Bushnell ONIX400
At CES I had the unique opportunity to not only get a demonstration and detailed tour of the Bushnell ONIX400, but also to hold molest the device in my own grubby hands.

To truly understand and appreciate the technical feat that this device is accomplishing really requires a full rundown of it's abilities from the people who know it best - the engineers. Every millimeter of the Bushnell ONIX400 Weather Tracker has been meticulously designed and thought out. And it uses technology so advanced that... well, that it doesn't exist yet (it'll be available this Summer).

Bushnell ONIX400 

Read more, and view more hands-on pics, after the jump... 

9 Comments

CES: SiriusConnect SC-V1 Audio/Video Tuner (Sirius Backseat TV)

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Sirius Backseat TV

The SiriusConnect SC-V1 Audio/Video Tuner is the first satellite tuner that not only receives Sirius audio, but also Sirius Backseat TV programming. Listen to Howard in the front, while the kids watch Spongebob in the back.

Sirius Video 


Designed as a multi-zone univeral system, the kit includes the SC-V1 A/V Tuner module, a wired display control unit, wireless audio remote control, wireless video remote control, remote eye (for rear seat control), FM switching interface, two mini magnetic antennas, and removable mounting plates.

The SC-V1 Multi-Zone operation allows for the regular Sirius Audio to pass through the main audio system, while the Sirius Backseat TV plays for the rear passengers.

Sirius Backseat TV 


Included with the SC-V1 kit is a display control unit that mounts up front and can operate either the audio functions or the video functions. There’s also a dedicated remote control for backseat passengers to change video channels and a diversity antenna system for maximum signal reception.

The SC-V1 has a built-in FM modulator and antenna interface to connect to your car. It’s compatible with standard NTSC monitors. The Sirius Connect A/V Tuner SC-V1 will be available at retail in Spring 2007, and will MSRP for $299.99.

There's a TON of photos after the jump (warning, not for the bandwidth squeamish)...

41 Comments

Dodge to offer Sirius Backseat Video in 2008 model year vehicles

Sirius Backseat TV
Thanks to a press release issued about the 2008 Dodge Magnum, it looks like Sirius will be making their Sirius Backseat TV option available to OEMs.

While the '08 Magnum will have Sirius Satellite Radio factory-installed, it will also have a "streaming video option" as well.

Sirius demonstrated Sirius Backseat TV at CES 2007. More on that shortly.

[via Sirius Uplink

CES: Audiovox DS7000XM XM Mini-Tuner Station

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Audiovox DS7000XM 

The Audiovox DS7000XM is a stand-alone docking station for the XM Mini-Tuner. XM programming is played out through the detachable speakers at 4-watts output power.

Audiovox DS7000XM 

Digital volume control and signal strength are shown on an LCD display and the user can tune all XM program categories manually using arrow keys.

Audiovox DS7000XM 

The Audiovox DS7000XM will go for an MSRP price of $119.95.

7 Comments

Breaking: Apple Unveils iPhone

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Apple iPhone

There goes the neighborhood. Apple has just unveiled the new "iPhone" and it is absolutely incredible.

Quick (and breathtaking) specs:

  • 11.6 millimeters thick (!!!)
  • 3.5-inch wide touchscreen display with multi-touch support
  • Display has a proximity sensor that turns off the sensor when it's close to your face
  • 2 megapixel camera
  • 4GB or 8 GB of storage
  • Bluetooth with EDR
  • WiFi that automatically engages when in range
  • Quadband GSM radio with EDGE
  • Runs OS X with support for Widgets, Google Maps, and Safari, and iTunes
  • 5 hours of battery life for talk or video - 16 hours in music mode
  • Cingular exclusive
  • 4GB iPhone for $499 on a two-year contract, 8GB for $599
See a ton of photos and more on Engadget.
9 Comments

CES: Clifford Scout420 Sirius-Ready Nav System

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 Clifford Scout420

Introducing the Clifford Scout420 Sirius-Ready Portable Nav System and Personal Media Player.

The Clifford Scout is a portable GPS navigation system with North American maps pre-loaded and more than 2 million points of interest. It also functions as a Personal Media Player - sporting a very nice 20GB hard drive - and a large 4.3-inch color touch-screen display. The Scout420, is also Sirius-Ready.

With just the addition of an optional Sirius Cradle (MSRP: $99), the Scout420 is enabled to receive Sirius Satellite Radio. The Scout420 doesn't receive Sirius through a built-in antenna, so you'll still need to run an external antenna to get the Sirius signal.

Clifford Scout420 

It also features a 100 channel FM transmitter, AV-in and Mini-USB for recording from TV, DVD or camcorder. With a 3-hour internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery plus the included carrying case, cigarette lighter adapter, AC adapter, car mounting kit, USB cable, and memory card - the unit is truly portable out of the box.

Clifford Scout420 

The Clifford Scout420 will be available in late February with an expected street price of $699.

Check out a photo of the Clifford Scout display after the jump...

4 Comments

CES: Audiovox Press Event, XM Mini-Tuner Gets The Spotlight

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At the Audiovox press event, several new products were unveiled - including a very impressive XM Mini-Tuner compatible GPS/Nav system. Actually, the XM Mini-Tuner has a very strong presence in all of Audiovox's new satellite radio products.

Here's some pics from the press event. I'll quickly go over what is being showcased, and then follow up with more detailed posts shortly. 

CES Audiovox Press Conference
On the left is three of Audiovox's new portable GPS navigation systems. The top two are XM Mini-Tuner compatible, with the top one being the absolute coolest one.

CES Audiovox Press Event
It features a touch-screen interface, being demo'd here while the presentation continues.

More pics after the jump... 

4 Comments

CES: XM's CES Innovations Honorees

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And here's XM's CES Innovations Awards Honorees.

Delphi SkyFi3
Delphi SkyFi3

XM Mini-Tuner
XM Mini-Tuner.

KVH TracVision
And while the Bushnell ONIX 400 was MIA (or maybe I just couldn't find it), here's the KVH TracVision A7 low-profile mobile video antenna receiver. It uses a hybrid phased-array antenna technology to receive DIRECTV, XM Satellite Radio and local channels to cars.

 

1 Comment

CES: Sirius' CES Innovations Honorees

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Live from CES 2007, here photos of the CES Innovations Award Honorees for Sirius Satellite Radio.

Sirius Sportster 4
The Sirius Sportster 4.

SiriusConnect Home
SiriusConnect Home Tuner.

Sirius Stiletto
Sirius Stiletto.

Sirius Stiletto Antenna Headset
The Sirius Stiletto Antenna Headset.

Sirius Conductor
The uber-cool Sirius Conductor.

Soloist Media Dock
And technically this is an award for Directed Electronics, but still chalked up to the Sirius category, the very neat Soloist Media Dock.

 

4 Comments

CES: XM Reception at Jet tonight

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Jet at The MirageFor the first official night of CES, XM Satellite Radio and Opie & Anthony will host a reception at the nightclub Jet at The Mirage hotel on the Vegas Strip - tonight (Monday) starting at 10:30pm PT.

Monday is usually the busiest night at the club, but for those who want to line up, it should be a good time.

1 Comment

Altec Lansing Announces New Partnership with Sirius Satellite Radio

Altec Lansing
Altec Lansing and Sirius Satellite Radio have officially joined forces to deliver a new line up of high-quality audio products to Sirius Satellite Radio listeners.

Altec Lansing will release a set of products for Sirius Satellite Radio subscribers in the Spring, with several other offerings releasing in the following months.

"Pairing up with Altec Lansing was an obvious choice," said Sean Gibbons, Vice President Consumer Electronics Product Management, Sirius Satellite Radio. "Combining Sirius' industry leading 100-percent, commercial-free music and talk and entertainment programming with Altec Lansing’s innovative audio products will allow Sirius subscribers the convenience to listen to their favorite content in more locations than ever."
 

More Details on the Bushnell ONIX 400 GPS/XM/XM WX Device

Bushnell ONIX 400Just a few more details on the Bushnell ONIX 400 portable GPS/XM/XM WX swiss army knife device.

The ONIX 400 will provide current and forecasted weather data, including detailed, real-time weather warnings. It's not just NEXRAD radar overlayed over the map. The ONIX 400 will be the only outdoor device that provides personalized, localized weather content delivery integrated within the GPS map environment.

The handheld features a split screen allowing users to check out what XM content is playing while viewing weather data. The waterproof portable handheld unit is ergonomically designed to fit into the palm of the hand for easy use in any type of weather.

The ONIX 400 has the ability to layer weather information on the screen along with aerial and satellite photos and topography maps for the ultimate in real world navigation.

Other features include enhanced sports scoreboard with user interface, sports statistics and scores; an extra large 3.5" full-color LCD screen (320x240 pixel resolution); an embedded 64Mb MicroSD card for data and map services; and rechargeable Li-Ion battery.

Details on weather-related service pricing will be available at product launch. The ONIX 400 will be available in the summer of 2007.

New Pioneer AVIC-D3 Unveiled

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Pioneer AVIC-D3
The new AVIC-D3 is Pioneer's latest phase in the evolution of their popular AVIC in-dash navigation systems.

Key features include: XM NavTraffic integration, voice prompting, telephone number search, and a bunch of entertainment features like support for both XM and Sirius Satellite Radio, CD/DVD playback, iPod Direct, iPod video support and expanded Bluetooth capabilities including wireless audio streaming.

The AVIC-D3 fits into a standards double-din dash opening, and rocks a beautiful 6.1 inch display with eight built-in illumination colors, and the option to choose from 32,000 other color variations (allowing the unit to match pretty much any vehicle on the road).

Pioneer's AVIC-D3 provides mapping and routes for the entire United States and Canada, with detailed mapping and detailed lane information in 50 cities. Included in the system are about 12 million points of interest like ATMs, gas stations, hotels and restaurants, which can be overlaid directly onto the map. The system utilizes 59 brand icons for quick identification of familiar POIs.

With the optional traffic tuner, the GEX-P10XMT, and a XM NavTraffic subscription, you can receive real-time alert of current traffic incidents and traffic flow conditions, by overlaying the information onto the map screen with flashing lines and icons, and providing an alternative route around the obstruction.

XM and Sirius Satellite Radio are both available options in the AVIC-D3, and the front-panel mounted mini-jack A/V input allows the addition to other attached components such as camcorders, gaming devices or music players.

The Pioneer AVIC-D3 will MSRP for $1000, and is expected to be available in March.

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Backstage at CES: XM's Booth Pre-Show

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The folks at XM were kind enough to not only give me a tour of the booth pre-show, but to allow me to snap off photos of it for Orbitcast readers to enjoy.

The display booth was buzzing with excitement as dozens of people were busy making sure that every piece of audio equipment was working flawlessly for the show. And trust me, there's a lot of pieces to this puzzle.

XM at CES Pre-Show
Here you can see a Saturn Sky and a slightly pimped out Hyundai Azera (that's sarcasm folks - the thing is modded to the gills). This is only half of the booth.

XM at CES Pre-Show
Here you can see the famed "Infotainment" vehicle (we gotta work on that name). The guys were hard at work on that badboy, and I have a feeling they'll be there deep into the night fine tuning the details.

XM's Booth at CES Pre-Show
Here's one of the kiosks that will showcase various devices... note the lack of units. I think these will be plug-and-plays.

(For the sake of bandwidth, follow the jump for lots more pics.) 

8 Comments

CES: Pioneer's "Avatars" Showcase New Satellite Radio Products

This morning, Pioneer hosted a press conference at CES in Las Vegas, where they demonstrated new navigation and entertainment features for your car. The goal? To make driving fun again.

As part of this unveiling, they've launched a new marketing campaign of "avatars" that illustrate the different key aspects of their new products. The concept behind the avatars is to place 3D characters (they look like The Sims) in scenarios that you, the consumer, can relate to. It's a neat idea.

Below are two of the avatars that are directly satellite radio related. The other two Pioneer Avatars - which aren't satrad related, but still interesting - are available after the jump.

CES 2007: XM logo on every Press Badge

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It was a pleasant surprise when I was handed a CES Press Badge with a big ol' XM logo on it. In a smart move to get brand recognition, XM put their logo smack dab in the middle of where everyone will be looking throughout the show (all exhibitors like to size up which media outlet they're schmoozing by nonchalantly glancing at the press badge).

Anyway, it makes for a nice scene when you walk into the press room and everyone's wearing these badges.

XM CES Press Badge 

5 Comments

CES 2007: We Got Bandwidth!

Hurray! We got bandwidth! Let the good stuff begin...

CES 2007 

Live from CES: Just Checking In

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I'm here at CES now, many of the booth displays are still very much under construction and - to no one's surprise - the WiFi is painfully slow. So slow that I can't upload any photos right now.

So stay tuned, eventually I'll get some bandwidth. 

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CES: Bushnell ONIX 400 Weather Tracker

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We spotted the Bushnell ONIX 400 Weather Tracker back in November, but that was just the feature list - we still didn't have the full details on this device that we've been wanting.

Well here it is, and it's pretty damn exciting.

 

Bushnell ONIX 400
 

 

The Bushnell ONIX 400 Weather Tracker is the first portable, handheld device that offers GPS navigation, live XM Radio reception, and the personalized, real-time XM weather system that XM is unveiling at CES. Consider it as a veritable swiss-army knife of satellite devices.

This is revolutionary because instead of getting weather data for your region, the system isolates your location (down to a "cell") and provides the specific weather data surrounding just you. The ONIX 400 Weather Tracker also tracks the specific weather events along your personal route and final destination. So set your destination and this in-depth weather data will be continuously updated and displayed on the GPS map along that path.

While Bushnell is traditionally an "outdoors" focused company, I can see uses for this device for even the most dedicated urbanite. And with an MSRP price of only $499, this 3-in-1 GPS device will be appealing to even the most price conscious consumer.

Check out a ton of photos showing the different screens on the ONIX 400, after the jump...

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A Sneak Peek at XM Satellite Radio at CES 2007

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XMIt's a day before CES 2007 officially opens, but there's no need to wait for Monday to get the scoop on what XM is showing. Nope, in fact, here's an overview of what I've learned is in store for the geeky masses at this year's CES.

The first XM radios were introduced at CES way back in January 2001. This year XM continues the CES tradition by having a large CES display booth (approximately 70' x 90') in the Las Vegas Convention Center's North Hall in booth 4606.

The XM display at CES will include:

  • The incredible Bushnell ONIX 400 Weather Tracker 3-in-1 GPS/XM/Weather Tracking device. More on this shortly.
  • XM is unveiling the new Delphi Premium Sound System for the Delphi SkyFi3. Don't call it a "boombox" because the Premium Sound System is a portable speaker system with advanced acoustics - far too advanced to be called a "boombox." The system offers a modular docking connector that is designed to work with multiple XM radios, including the SkyFi3, MyFi, RoadyXT, and the Audiovox Xpress.
  • Delphi will also show a new kit for integrating the SkyFi3 with the Bose Wave system. The integration kit includes a universal remote that operates both the SkyFi3 and Bose system seamlessly.
  • The new XM CommanderMT - the lovable (but aging) XM Commander gets an upgrade with the addition of the removable XM Mini-Tuner cartridge. The new universal CommanderMT satellite radio receiver delivers XM via a slim, sleek faceplate that can be integrated seamlessly into the car’s dashboard.
  • There will be a large wall in the CES booth that'll display many new XM Mini-Tuner capable car stereos, including upcoming models from Panasonic, Sony, Alpine, Pioneer, and Jensen. No more clunky traditional tuner boxes - these all work with the removable XM Mini-Tuner. The newest XM-ready home audio systems will also be on full display.
  • An expanded line of nav-systems with XM Radio and the XM NavTraffic real-time traffic service will be on site, including the latest Pioneer multimedia systems and the new Garmin Zumo 550 for motorcycles.
  • Inno/Helix users who want Audible content will sure be smiling now, because XM will unveil new software for storing audio editions of books, newspapers, magazines, and other content from Audible. The Audible software for XM2go/MP3 portables is expected to be available in spring 2007.
  • XM will also demonstrate the latest cell phones from Cingular and Alltel that receive XM Radio Mobile, as well as hands-on displays of XM's plug-and-play radios. Different kiosks (more like "pods") will allow people to experience XM at the show.
  • Along with XM's "Infotainment" vehicle, five different XM-equipped vehicles from GM, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Porsche will be parked inside the XM booth.
That's it for now. Lots more of Orbitcast's coverage live from CES 2007 coming soon.
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Sirius Canada Adding 20 New Channels?

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Sirius CanadaThe folks over at Digital Home Pipeline reportedly have been informed that Sirius Canada will be adding a significant number of new channels to their roster.

According to insiders, 20 new channels will be added consisting of eighteen U.S. and two Canadian channels, giving Sirius Canada the same number of channels as their American counterpart.

"The two new Canadian channels are said to be traffic and weather channels for Toronto and Montreal, however, according to our sources this is not yet finalized. One alternative could be a traffic and weather channel for Vancouver."

[Digital Home Pipeline via Sirius Uplink

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CES 2007: Orbitcast's Coverage

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CES 2007

CES is a-comin' and I'll be there faithfully providing non-stop coverage to you, the yearning masses. I intend on getting absolutely no sleep while I'm there, and loving every minute of it.

Strap in kids, we're going to Vegas baby!

Coverage begins on Sunday. 

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Report: Satellite Radio is Insignificant

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SATELLITE RADIO PWN3Z YOU!Here's an interesting bit from Jacob's Media, regarding some analysis by Katz Radio Group showing that, wait for it, satellite radio is insignificant to terrestrial radio's listener penetration. I'm not going to fault Fred Jacobs for giving props to Katz (it's his M.O. afterall), but rather let's take a look at the report itself.

The December 2006 issue of Katz Radio Group's newsletter "Radiowaves" (PDF) focuses on trying to debunk "myths" about Old Media vs New Media (are we really still having this argument?). So of course as a key feature they show a neato chart that illustrates satellite radio's penetration versus terrestrial radio's penetration in the Top 25 U.S. markets.

Now, let's ignore the genius editorial copy in this newsletter (which proclaims that while XM and Sirius will have "disappointing" Christmas sales, HD Radio will have "very robust" sales). Let's just examine the data itself, afterall it's data that Jacob's feels should go out "to the advertising community, as well as media outlets like The New York Times."

First off, the Total U.S. Penetration number. This is probably the most relevant since XM and Sirius have no localization capabilities. See, the data that Katz is showcasing is meant to prove to the world that advertising with terrestrial radio is a smarter choice than advertising with satellite radio. But any advertiser who signs with Sirius or XM would be advertising on a national basis, so examining the penetration in each individual market makes little sense. If "Bobby's Used Car Sales" in Minneapolis wants to talk up this Saturday's midnight bonanza, why would he advertise on a national scale?

But I digress, back to Total U.S. Penetration.

The data, which is provided by Simmons, shows that Satellite Radio penetration is at 4.1% for Sirius and XM combined. Hmm, interesting... 4.1% of what? The Katz feature doesn't say. But since the words "total U.S. penetration" are being used, let's assume they mean the entire U.S. population of 300 million. Ah, so that's 12.3 million people. Sort of close to the combined number of subscribers between XM and Sirius (not counting Q4 subs I assume). That ignores the fact that there's more listeners than subscribers. (Simmons, by the way, is partnered with Sirius).

Next to the 4.1% number, Katz shows where satellite radio would be "ranked" among local terrestrial radio stations. This is an average of the local rankings, based on - Arbitron numbers. Not based on the 4.1% figure. So we have two different figures, from two different research firms, on the same line item. Nice.

But how is that possible since Arbitron has postponed the listing of satellite radio in their books? Ah, that's because Katz used individual market penetration data from Scarborough Research, to determine the rankings among local terrestrial radio. So it's really just an "assumption" more than an actual ranking.

So let's break it down. This "eye opening" data is the combination of data from three different research firms, with different methodologies, and different audience measurements - yet they're combined on associated line items. Brilliant.

Yet again, none of this really matters. Not because satellite radio is a national media - and so comparing local marketshare is just plain silly. And not because a majority of the channels on satellite radio don't even have commercials, so this information serves useless to the advertising community. It's because the satellite radio business model isn't dependent on advertising dollars, like terrestrial radio's is.

Do yourself a favor Katz, and leave the apples and oranges alone. Everybody knows that terrestrial radio has more listeners than satellite does. The real question is, if satellite radio is so insignificant... why do you care?
6 Comments

A Look at Sirius & XM Subscribers in 2006

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The folks over at SSG were kind enough to provide the data of both quarterly and total net subscribers between both Sirius and XM. Using this data, below is a visual look at the year in net subscribers.

2006 Quarterly Net Subscriber Additions: 

2006 Quarterly Net Subscriber Additions 

The scary part: in terms of net subscriber additions, XM actually performed better in the first quarter of 2006, than in the fourth quarter of 2006. Of course this may not be the case in terms of gross subscribers (read more here) but it's still concerning to say the least.

 

2006 Total Net Subscribers:
2006 Total Net Subscribers 

Sirius now is nearly at the same point in total subscribers as XM was a year ago. The thing that is blatantly apparent is that Sirius is showing more rapid growth than XM is during the past year. Whether or not Sirius will begin to experience similar "growing pains" that XM experienced this year is hard to say as 2007 is going to be a completely different climate.

But should Sirius and XM continue on exactly the same paths they are following right now - based on only 2006 numbers - they could reach the same number of subscribers in the third quarter of 2007.

[more on SSG

22 Comments

Study: Digital Music Listeners Are More Engaged Fans

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Listening to digital musicA new survey from the Digital Media Association found that 60% of digital music consumers are listening to more music since they started using an "online music service" (this includes Internet radio and digital music downloads).

Over 60% said they have discovered "some new artists" while 25% said they found "a lot of new artists." Add to that, over 35% said they now talk about music more than before, and more than 75% have recommended an online service to someone else. 15% of online music fans say they are now attending more concerts.

The results aren't really surprising because the act of seeking out and accessing an Internet radio service (or downloading digital music) is a far more of an interactive experience, than simply listening on the radio. Probably more so on the digital download side, than the Internet radio side, because once you find your "favorite" Internet radio station you'll just let it play (much like your favorite Sirius or XM channel).

I'd assume that these listeners - especially downloaded digital music listeners - are far more likely to listen to music in the foreground, or actively, rather than just passive listening like in regular radio. Satellite radio likely would see similar results as Internet radio, containing a combination of "active" and "passive" listeners.

It's these "active" listeners - the engaged audience - that likely will seek out a more interactive environment. Interactivity is key in competing with the iPod and other digital mediums. So how can satellite radio fulfill this need?

[DiMA Survey via FMQB]
2 Comments

XM Acheives 7.6 Million Subscribers and Cash-Flow Positive Quarter

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XMXM Satellite Radio ended 2006 with over 7.625 million subscribers, adding 1.695 million new subscribers in 2006.

Based on preliminary results, XM achieved positive cash flow from operations during the fourth quarter of 2006. Much like Sirius, this is great news and a show of improved financial discipline from both companies.

Hitting 7.6 million subscribers means that XM added more than 442,000 new net subscribers during the 4Q06.

"XM completed another year of significant subscriber growth, despite retail softness, and did so with continued cost controls, achieving positive cash flow from operations during the fourth quarter," said Hugh Panero, XM's CEO in a statement.

The 7.625 million net subscribers is just below XM's revised guidance range of 7.7-7.9 million subs. While expectations on The Street weren't too high, it's still a disappointment. Sirius probably took a higher-than-expected retail share in the fourth quarter that aided to this outcome.

18 Comments

Gary Parsons to Speak at Citigroup Media & Telecom Conference

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Gary ParsonsGary Parsons, XM Satellite Radio's Chairman of the Board, will speak at the Citigroup Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

This is the same conference that Mel Karmazin will keynote at, though Gary Parsons is scheduled to speak the day prior on Tuesday, January 9th, from 2:30-3:05pm PT (that's 5:30pm ET).

You will be able to listen to a webcast of the event here.

2 Comments

John Mellencamp to Premiere Album on Sirius

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John Mellencamp, Freedom's RoadJohn Mellencamp will premiere his new album Freedom's Road exclusively on Sirius Satellite Radio - the week before it will be available for sale (in stores or digitally).

Mellencamp will play each of album's tracks - in order - with Sirius host Meg Griffin, as well as talk about the story behind each song (which he both wrote and produced). Freedom's Road is his 21st album to be released his four decade long career.

"Inside Freedom's Road with John Mellencamp" will air on The Spectrum (ch 18) on Wednesday, January 17th at 7pm ET with replays on Jan 18th at 12pm ET; Jan 20th at 8am ET; Jan 21st at 5pm ET; Jan 22nd at 2pm ET, and Jan 23rd at 9pm ET.

1 Comment

Sirius & XM at CES 2007

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XM and Sirius at CES 2007 LVCC North Hall 

CES 2007 is soon upon us next week and the excitement is building (not mention that MacWorld is going on the same week, building it's own level of excitement for our favorite "competitive" device).

So here's a bit of a breakdown of what both XM's and Sirius' presence at CES 2007 will be, as well as other related retail manufacturers.

First off, like last year's CES, Sirius will not be having their own booth but will instead be sharing a section of the Directed Electronics booth (North Hall, Booth #301 - that's the green highlighted booth on the right in the map pictured above).

Last year Sirius held a private showing at the Bellagio (which later became the lovable nickname for the now Sirius Stiletto), but they didn't have any significant public announcements that year. It's possible that the same may be the case for this year, although the Sirius Stiletto 100, Stiletto Antenna Headset, Sirius Conductor, Sportster 4 and the SiriusConnect Home were given CES Innovations Awards so they will probably be on display. It is important to note that Mel Karmazin will be in Vegas next week as well, so who knows what's to come.

XM on the otherhand will be exhibiting at CES in their own booth (North Hall, Booth #4606 - the green highlighted booth on the left). XM's booth is flanked by Honda (to the right) and Delphi (to the left), not to mention iBiquity/HD Radio (upper-right... which is somewhat entertaining). It's hard to say exactly what XM will be doing, but we do know that the XM Mini-Tuner, the Delphi SkyFi3 and the absolutely incredible Bushnell ONIX 400CR were awarded CES Innovations Awards so they will most likely be there.

XM will also have their XM "Infotainment" vehicle on display, showcasing the first-ever personal weather tracking system. But as for any other announcements? We will soon find out.

Other exhibitors of note are Delphi (North Hall, Booth #5206), Audiovox (Central Hall, Booth #11006, and #10506), Xact Communication (Central Hall, Booth #9817), Humax (Hilton, Booth #2665 and #2765), Wistron NeWeb (South 1, Booth #20919) and of course WorldSpace (The Venetian, Booth #209).

Of course, if you're not attending CES this year - have no fear - because you'll be able to get  obsessive in-person coverage of CES right here on Orbitcast.

4 Comments

XM and More Magazine to Launch Weekly Talk Show

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More MagazineXM Satellite Radio and More Magazine, will be launching "More Time," an hour-long weekly talk show on January 16th on XM’s Take Five channel (ch 155).

"More Time," like it's magazine counterpart, will likely target the 40+ female audience with coverage of real women, health, fashion, beauty, travel, entertainment and... more. The show will let you listen in as authors, readers, editors and women of note muse on every subject - with of course call-ins so you can add your own opinion.

Radio personality Katherine Lanpher will serve as host of "More Time." An award-winning journalist and author of Leap Days: Chronicles of a Midlife Move, Lanpher previously served as co-host of "The Al Franken Show" on Air America Radio.

"More Time" will debut on Tuesday, January 16 at 4pm ET with new episodes airing every Tuesday on XM 155 with replays throughout the week. XM also has plans to expand their More-branded presence in spring 2007 with additional short-form content.

More was named 2006 Magazine of the Year by Advertising Age.

16 Comments

XM Subscriber Numbers "By Monday"

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This is a SatelliteChance Patterson of XM Satellite Radio and spokesperson extraordinaire, told Bloomberg that we "can expect to see an announcement from XM by Monday'' on last year's subscriber numbers.

Remember that during XM's 3Q06 earnings call, it was announced that beginning in 2007, XM will no longer release subscriber numbers prior to earnings.

"The Street is assuming that XM will have equivalent success with retail holiday sales and make its year-end subscriber guidance," Stanford Group analyst Frederick Moran also told Bloomberg.

And while Stanford Group and Cowen & Co. feel Sirius' subscriber numbers are wholly positive news for the industry, Motley Fool is quick to state that "it's not all roses in the Sirius camp." The Fool supports this with by pointing out that 4Q05 added 1.1 million net subs, while 4Q06 added "just" 0.9 million new net subscribers.

[via Seeking Alpha]

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CES 2007 Preview: XM's "Infotainment" Vehicle

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XM ParkingLink
As expected, XM will be displaying their pimped-out show vehicle at CES 2007, that will be packed to the gills with current and concept systems from XM's arsenal.

This year the concept vehicle is called the XM "Infotainment" Vehicle, which is only a slight improvement to last year's super-sexy XM Advanced Services Vehicle namesake. Forgetting the name though, it's the vehicle that is drool inducing.

The "Infotainment" vehicle will of course be packed with XM's new personal weather tracking system, which is just an incredible innovation. The vehicle will also showcase a variety of information and entertainment services (get it?) that XM has the ability to deliver to the automobile.

And yes, for yet another year, we will be graced with yet another glimpse at the in-car video system developed by XM and On2 Technologies that can receive both video and audio from XM's current infrastructure. But beyond video, thankfully, the XM show vehicle is expected to be packed with other technological goodies.

Goodies like XM's conversational voice-recognition software developed in conjunction with VoiceBox Technologies (view video here). The voice-command technology will not only include controls for the radio, but also for weather, traffic, stock quotes, and sports scores.

Also as part of the "Infotainment" vehicle will be the XM ParkingLink, a parking-spot locater integrated into your GPS navigation system. XM ParkingLink will hopefully be offered to the general public in the second half of this year.

The XM "infotainment" vehicle will be on display at the XM booth (CES Booth #4606) in the Las Vegas Convention Center's North Hall. Can't wait to see it.

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CES 2007 Preview: XM's Real-time Personal Weather Tracking System

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XM WXXM Satellite Radio will unveil next week a new personal weather tracking system for GPS navigation - the first of it's kind - at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week.

The system tracks real-time weather conditions, plus provides a near-term weather forecast, between your current location and your final destination. Instead of simply giving you general weather conditions for a region, the satellite powered system focuses on the weather on your individual route.

The weather system is expected to be introduced in the summer of this year with XM's weather partner Baron Services.

"XM is offering the first system that alerts consumers to real-time weather threats on the road ahead," said Rod Mackenzie, VP of Advanced Applications at XM. "You're not just getting the temperature and the forecast for a city. You get the weather that will impact your specific journey, and this information is constantly being updated. It's a major breakthrough in providing consumers with comprehensive, personalized weather information."

XM's and Baron's WxWorx devision (pronounced "weather works") offers weather services for airplanes, boats, and emergency responders.

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Mel Karmazin to Keynote at Citigroup Media & Telecom Conference

Mel KarmazinMel Karmazin, Sirius' Superstar CEO, will participate in a keynote lunch discussion at the Citigroup Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, January 10th, 2007 at 12:30pm PT (that's 3:30pm ET).

There will be a live webcast of the keynote, accessible here.

Delphi Reaches 13 Million Satellite Radio Receivers Sold

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SkyFi3Delphi just announced that they've sold their 13 millionth satellite radio receiver, which includes both radios sold via the retail channel and OEM receivers installed in vehicles.

Delphi produces receivers in more than 10 new vehicle manufacturers, as well as other popular receivers like the SkyFi and Roady series. Delphi claims that three out of four satellite radio listeners listen to the service on Delphi hardware.

Delphi will be displaying their products at CES 2007 in the North Hall, Las Vegas Convention Center, Exhibit (#5206)

[Press Release

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Sirius' subscribers are in... what about XM?

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Yesterday, Sirius reported ending the year with just over 6 million subscribers... so what does this mean about XM's subscribers?

Bank of America analyst Jonathan Jacoby writes in a recent report, feels that since "Sirius ended '06 with 6.02 subscribers, below [Bank of America's] model of 6.1 million subs (& the Street at 6.2 million)... XM probably will fall short of the low-end of its guidance range for year end subscribers of 7.7-7.9 million."

Other analysts, such as Bear Stearns' analyst Robert Peck, were more conservative with their models - so Sirius' results actually came in above their estimates. As a result, they're more bullish on XM's subscriber numbers, expecting that "XM likely may have ended the quarter with 7.85M subscribers, about 50K higher than [Bear Stearns'] current estimates."

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Sirius Beats 6 Million Subscribers and First Cash-Flow Positive Quarter

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SiriusSirius Satellite Radio ended 2006 with roughly 6,024,000 subscribers, effectively adding 2.7 million net subscribers in 2006 (that an 82% increase over the 2005 subscriber base).

Based on preliminary financial data, Sirius also achieved their first quarter of positive free cash flow in the 4Q06. A great show of controlling costs.

Reaching this milestone means that Sirius hit essentially smack-dab in the middle of their revised subscriber guidance for 2006 (which ranged from 5.9 - 6.1 million).

Since they ended 3Q06 with 5.1 million subscribers, this means that they added about 904,692 new net subs for 4Q06 (based on the approximate amount released).

Sirius plans to release their full year 2006 financial results in February. 

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Sirius, XM Mergeritis

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XM, Sirius MergerMergeritis.
Pronunciation: mûr'j?r'?'t?s
Function: noun

  1. The inability to get passed the possibility of, though without actual proof of, a merger between two or more companies.

Usage: See New York Times, or Washington Times (actually a UPI article).

[via Sirius Uplink]

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Ford to Unveil Microsoft In-Vehicle Operating System

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FordFord has teamed up with Microsoft to bring a hands-free Bluetooth wireless system and in-vehicle operating system as an option for its entire Ford brand lineup, according to WSJ.

The new system, called "Sync" will be unveiled next month and will expand upon Ford's technological offering, which includes integrated iPod jacks and expanding their Sirius Satellite Radio penetration. The Sync system will allow for hands-free cellphone communication and other wireless information transfers inside the car, including the ability to receive email and download music.

According to the WSJ article, Ford's Sync system will debut next year as an option on at least two newly revamped Ford models: the Focus and Five Hundred sedans. The Sync system will then be offered in the entire Ford lineup starting in the 2008 model year. Eventually Mercury and Lincoln will hop on board.

Ford and Microsoft are said to be jointly announcing Sync at CES.

[Wall Street Journal

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