As expected, XM Satellite Radio crossed the 6 million subscriber mark in 2005, a bump of 2.7 million new subscribers during the year.
The leading satellite provider now has considerable momentum moving into 2006, and the company projected a total of 9 million subscribers by 2007. More than 900,000 new subscribers entered in the fourth quarter, and 85-percent of those came from retail outlets. That makes sense in a holiday period, and it also opens the door for considerable increases in automotive activations ahead. The company may also get a bump from a crop of new XM-compatible receivers that double as MP3 players, while also allowing users to bookmark songs for later download on the new XM+Napster service.
XM has the commanding numbers, but Sirius is growing at a faster pace. The underdog provider now has 3.3 million subscribers, surpassing company guidance of 3 million for the end of 2005. The company revealed that it had tacked on 2,173,302 subscribers in 2005 alone, landing at 3,316,560 just prior to January. That is a remarkable surge, and reflects growing excitement and hype ahead of the arrival of Howard Stern. Meanwhile, the company has awarded Stern 34 million shares of its stock, a contractual reward for meeting its year-end subscriber goals satisfactorily. Stern begins his first broadcast January 9th.