This might very well be the last quarter that we will be comparing XM and Sirius subscriber numbers, as two separate companies at least. So, let's get to it before time runs out and we're forced to hold hands and sing Kumbaya together.
And because pictures are much easier to look at than a matrix of mind-numbing digits, here's some charts to help us along.
Total Satellite Radio Subscribers
- Sirius Satellite Radio: 7,667,476
- XM Satellite Radio: 8,570,000
Here we see the total cumulative subscribers starting from the fourth quarter of 2001. Now the interesting thing to note is that in the past two quarters, Sirius has been consistently three-quarters behind XM.
In other words, Sirius is currently where XM was in 4Q06 (~7.6M). In the 2nd-quarter of this year, Sirius was where XM was in 3Q06 (~7.1M).
Remember, there's a seasonality in retail which historically sees a spike in Q4. So this may not be a fair comparison. The killer question is whether either company has the momentum to have a stellar holiday season this year to make a difference. So far, the signs have not been encouraging.
Quarterly Net Subscribers
- Sirius Satellite Radio: 524,938
- XM Satellite Radio: 315,000
Here there can be no question that Sirius is out pacing XM. For nearly two years, Sirius has had more net subscriber additions than XM has. The most notable being in 4Q06 where Sirius simply destroyed XM in net additions.
Quarterly Gross Subscribers
- Sirius Satellite Radio: 999,284
- XM Satellite Radio: 952,000
Gross subscriber additions shows something different. Here we see near parity when it comes to quarterly subscriber growth.
Since gross subscribers scrubs out the effects of churn, and evens out other factors like including together promotional/non-promotional subscribers, here we can gather a better sense of market penetration. So I really do like to look at gross subscribers over net subscribers when looking at how both are performing.
Again, we see that in 4Q06, there was a tipping point where Sirius now leads XM consistently in gross subscriber additions.