Satellite Radio Subscribers: Running the numbers - Orbitcast

Satellite Radio Subscribers: Running the numbers


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

Quarterly Net Satellite Radio Subscribers
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

Quarterly Gross Satellite Radio Subscribers
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.


You're alluding to it but trying to be quaint about it.... here's the facts: SIRI's "non-promotional" subs are clearly overstating reality.

Churn isn't much different between the two (150k each). So there isn't some magic behind SIRI's subs.... except for the reporting. There's a 200k disparity there that fanboys can't possibly acknowledge.

Maybe once the merger goes through we can actually have a standard on how subscribers are reported.

The non promitioal subs are overstating reality as they are counted as a subscriber for 5 quarters. But in defense of Sirius they are paid for in full. Its not wrong ... just deceptive.

As for a merged company reporting as a standard? I do not think any deal with any OEM will be changed. it will just got from where they are now to 2 million gross and a net of 500,000 on retail weakness.

Another thing to note, XM's Satellites are newer and they charged 20 million more in depreciation than sirius. 8 million to Hugh, as well as losses in worldspace and XM canada stock. What would XM's losses have been without these fudgy numbers in there?

Me thinks XM is front loading expenses so that in the event of a failed merger... Viola!
"We are profitable"

I am still reding through the reports. plenty of info in there. Extreemly little in the Sirius report. How many Gross OEM was it Mel? How many Gross Retail Mel?

Anyone have a clue as to why the ridicules drop in siri stock today?

The only thing I can guess Dave is that the Street felt the quarter was "too good." Perhaps it will hurt their effort to merge with XM. Otherwise, I've no idea, because this was a good quarter.

It's all about OEMs, as retail no longer matters for Sat Radio. The majority with older cars (that did not come with a sat radio option) have already been upgraded (or not); the new car buyers are the target.

>> Anyone have a clue as to why the ridicules drop in siri stock today?

I think the Street saw through SIRI's #s. The 64k net retail adds was horrible given SIRI's 3/4 billion dollar "investment" in Stern. You cannot spend that kind of money SOLELY to draw retail subscribers, then turn in a quarter like this.

But more importantly, people have finally begun to see through the bogus OEM #s SIRI spews every quarter. Today, they disclosed that 11% of their subscribers are, well, not subscribers at all. They dodged the OEM subscriber conversion question again, this time changing their story (in the past, they just didn't have enough "data"; today, they just said "no, you can't have it"), making it pretty obvious that it is falling well below XM's 52% or so.

People have come to expect SIRI to put up better sub #s than XM (since SIRI did, after all, spend the big bucks on Stern), and when it is all boiled down, they were about equally anemic.

That's what I think.

"I think the Street saw through SIRI's #s. The 64k net retail adds was horrible given SIRI's 3/4 billion dollar "investment" in Stern. You cannot spend that kind of money SOLELY to draw retail subscribers, then turn in a quarter like this"

hmm based on arbtron ratings he pulls 1.7m on two channels.

1.7m *$10 *12 months = 200m per year.

200m *3 years = 600m

- major increase in brand name recognition
- retail % from low teens to 50%+

not to mention some of stern's payment was in stock which is worth less then what it was at signing. so the once 500m (not 750m) might very well be worth less then 500m at this point.

Also how can you not count a sub if its been paid for, churn would catch up to the numbers anyway, which it has not, so counting the subs for the last 2 years this way is not a bad thing at all. if they were imaginary and never activated then churn would be expected to take off over 11% right?

guess not boss

Howard saved Sirius. It was Howard that put the Sirius namein the news for a year.
No amount of ad money could have done that.
When it comes to subs remember XM gives half of the sub money to GM.
That makes each GM sub worth half of a retail sub.

The better Sirius does, and the more 0.0 fail, the funnier the desperate spinning from StackPointer and other "pests" gets.

satradmadman, I know about you. A failed radio guy. Wish you were howie. Howard both saved and drowned Sirius.

*looks up*

Case in point.

Stern? O&A? You call these mrning shows?

Bob Edwards baby! And he cost less than $500 mil.

Seriously, Why does this become an O&A vs Stern debate. I've had XM for a couple years now and never listen to O&A. There are 8.5 million XM customers and according to arbitron, far more of them are listening to music than to morning shows.

Get over it, seriously.

I love Bob Edwards! I always used to listen to NPR after the Stern show. I hope the merger goes through so that I can have both again and the mediocre "talent" can go back to radio obscurity where they belong along with the above so-called pests.

come on satman, use your old on-air name...

bob edwards is as big a bore as when shitty npr cut him loose.

Ryan, let me see if I am reading this correctly:

Gross Subs is the number of subscribers gotten during that period.
Net Subs is the number of subscribers minus the number than cancled.

Is that correct?

So XM and Sirius are getting more or less the same amount of gross subs, but fewer are canceling their Sirius radios (presumably due to the promotional period?)

For Sirius churn, the company is forcasting 2.2-2.4, while this quarter was 2.1. With the continued OEM ramp up, wouldnt the churn actually DECREASE because of increased promo subs?

And here is another thing to keep in mind about churn: As soon as a sirius person buys their car, they are considered a subscriber. If at the end of that year/6 months/whatever they decide to cancle, that number goes to Churn. For XM, the promo sub is completely free, so they are not counted as subscribers. If they do not continue the service past the promo period, that number does NOT go to churn. This quarter, XMs churn was 2.3 (IIRC). This means that more people CONCIOUSLY decided to subscribe to XM and then canceled, rather than just canceling after a promo period. What does that say about XM?

I always thought that was true until I talked to my brother. He has a different opinion.