Sirius Satellite RadioSirius Satellite Radio is owned by Sirius XM Holdings
Headquartered in New York City, with smaller studios in Los Angeles and Memphis, Sirius was officially launched on July 1, 2002. It now provides 69 streams (channels) of music and 65 streams of sports, news, and entertainment to its subscribers. Music streams on Sirius carry a wide variety of genres, broadcasting 24 hours daily, commercial-free, and uncensored. A subset of Sirius music channels is included as part of the Dish Networksatellite television service. Sirius channels are identified by Nielsen Audio with the label “SR” (e.g. “SR120”, “SR9”, “SR17”).
Its business model is to provide pay-for-service radio, analogous to the business model for premium cable television. Music channels are presented without advertising, while its talk channels, such as The Howard Stern Radio Show – Howard 100 and Howard 101 & Jim Norton & Sam Roberts Faction talk 103, carry commercials. Because all channels are free from FCC content regulation, songs are played unedited for language; talk programs may also feature explicit content if they wish. Subscriptions are prepaid and range in price from US$14.99 monthly (US$9.99 for each additional receiver) to US$699.99 for lifetime (of the receiver equipment. There is a $15 activation fee for every radio activated. Sirius announced it had achieved its first positive cash flow quarter for the period ending December 2006.
Sirius launched its radio service in four states on February 14, 2002, expanding service to the rest of the contiguous U.S. by July of that year. On October 16, 2006, Sirius announced that it would be launching Sirius Internet Radio, with 78 of its 135 channels being available worldwide on the internet to any of its subscribers with a valid user name and password.
On July 29, 2008, Sirius formally completed its merger with former competitor XM Satellite Radio. The combined company began operating under the name Sirius XM Satellite Radio. On November 12, 2008, Sirius and XM began broadcasting with their new, combined channel lineups. On January 13, 2011, Sirius Satellite Radio was dissolved as a separate entity and merged into Sirius XM Radio, Inc.
The Howard Stern Radio Show
On October 6, 2004, Sirius announced that it had signed a five-year, US$100 million per year agreement with Howard Stern to move his radio show, The Howard Stern Show, to Sirius starting on January 9, 2006. Stern said his move was forced by the stringent regulations of the FCC whose enforcement was intensified following the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy. In the wake of the announcement of his pending departure, Stern complained that Infinity Broadcasting was making his departure more acrimonious than was necessary. The deal, which gave Sirius exclusive rights to Stern’s radio show, also gave Stern the right to build three full-time programming channels. His audience had grown almost tenfold by the end of his second year on Sirius, from fewer than 700,000 subscribers to 6 million (see graph on the right). Stern now has two channels operating on Sirius, but still retains the right to a third.
A major component of Sirius’s business strategy is to execute exclusive deals with big-name entertainers and personalities to create and build broadcast streams from the ground up. Besides Stern, Sirius has reached deals with domestic diva Martha Stewart, E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt (aka Little Steven), Jimmy Buffett, and Eminem to executive-produce streams or entire channels on Sirius. Van Zandt was the first major musician recruited by Sirius or XM to create branded music channels, and he has created two distinct stations for Sirius: the Underground Garage, dedicated to garage rock, and Outlaw Country with its focus on alternative country music.
Sirius/XM’s channels carry an extensive array of programming that covers a wide variety of genres. The categories include Music, News/Talk, Sports, and Entertainment. Within each category there are multiple channels presenting a wide variety of subgenres. For example, the Music category includes streams for Rock, Pop, Country, Hip-Hop/R&B, and Jazz/Blues – An example of the variety of music offerings available are 22 channels offering different subgenres of rock.
The vast majority of the Company’s programming is self-produced exclusively for Sirius. However, there are some shows——especially in the Talk genre——that were originally created for terrestrial radio, but that now air on conventional radio and on Sirius/XM simultaneously; one example is the Eternal Word Television Network.
Another cornerstone of Sirius’s business strategy is to pursue exclusive sports content. It now has exclusive satellite radio broadcasting rights to all NFL, CFL and NBA games. In December 2005, Sirius announced a multi-year deal with the NBA, which made the satellite radio company the broadcaster of more live NBA games than any other radio outlet. Sirius airs Full Court Press, weekdays from 12 pm – 3 pm ET; FCP is the only all-NBA show on Sirius/XM. That agreement also created a 24-hour NBA Radio Channel, which was located on channel 127. However, as of November 12, 2008, NBA games have switched to XM and are therefore now part of Sirius as part of the “Best of XM” package, so the 24-hour NBA channel no longer airs. It was replaced by Sporting News Radio. NHL games were shared with XM for the 2005–2006 season, and Sirius/XM now holds exclusive rights. The Company also has full NASCAR coverage, including a two-hour weekly show hosted by now-retired driver Tony Stewart. In 2009, Sirius/XM was the first to carry live coverage of the 24-hour road race from Le Mans.
Sirius/XM also has rights to a number of major college sports teams, including teams in the Big East, Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences as well as The University of Notre Dame. Beginning in 2005 Sirius also has exclusive radio rights to cover the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. In August 2004, Sirius launched Sirius NFL Radio, a 24-hour radio stream dedicated exclusively to covering the NFL. Sirius has also been aggressive in creating its own in-house produced studio sports radio content.
Sirius also has the only national Horse racing talk show, At the Races, hosted by noted racing handicapper, Steve Byk. The show which airs weekdays between 4 and 7, is unique in the horseracing world.