Despite $1 Billion Pandora Hit, SiriusXM Quarterly Revenues and Subscribers Improve

Pandora subscribers
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Pandora subscribers
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Photo Credit: Pandora

Despite incurring “a $976 million non-cash impairment charge associated with Pandora,” SiriusXM added subscribers and experienced a year-over-year revenue uptick during 2020’s final three months.

SiriusXM, which warned of Pandora’s royalty-driven impairment charge last month, formally revealed its Q4 2020 earnings specifics today. Across October, November, and December of last year, the satellite radio giant’s total revenue (also including its Pandora streaming subsidiary) came in at $2.19 billion, against $2.06 billion in the same period in 2019.

Within the figure, income attributable to the services’ subscribers grew by $46 million (to $1.62 billion), while advertising income jumped $71 million, to $474 million.

Accounting for all of 2020, SiriusXM earnings totaled $8.04 billion, $6.37 billion of which derived from subscriptions (compared to $6.12 billion in 2019). Advertising revenue recorded only a small boost on the year (finishing at $1.34 billion), owing to a substantial dip that arrived with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SiriusXM self-pay subscribers, for their part, increased by 909,000 during the year, to 30.89 million at Q4’s end, whereas paid-promotional subscribers fell by 1.01 million or so, to 3.83 million. (Overall ending subscribers declined just slightly because of the paid-promotional falloff, which SiriusXM said resulted from “lower auto sales, a decrease in vehicle shipments by automakers offering paid trial subscriptions, and a reduction in trial lengths at certain automakers.”)

Pandora boasted approximately 58.88 million monthly active users (MAUs) as of December 31st – a roughly 4.63 million year-over-year decline. The figure includes 133,000 more self-pay subscribers, however, for a total of 6.3 million. Ad-supported listening hours came in at 12.5 billion in 2020, to 13.44 billion in 2019.

That Pandora’s advertising revenue touched $425 million in the fourth quarter, compared to $348 million in 2019, is telling. It bears mentioning on this front that SoundCloud, which received a $75 million investment from SiriusXM in February of 2020, expanded its relationship with Pandora/SiriusXM-owned audio-advertising platform AdsWizz last month. AdsWizz is now the exclusive seller of SoundCloud advert space in 14 European nations.

At the time of this piece’s writing, SiriusXM stock (SIRI) was down about 1.5 percent from yesterday’s close, for a per-share price of $6.16. And Liberty Media (LSXMA), which owns over 70 percent of SiriusXM, had seen its shares’ value grow by nearly six percent on the day, to $43.59 apiece. Last month, the 30-year-old company officially rolled out a $500 million IPO for a “special purpose acquisition company.”

Warner Music Group revealed its earnings specifics for 2020’s final three months yesterday, and Spotify will post its own Q4 2020 financials tomorrow. Worth looking for in the latter is the number of users who listened to podcasts; Spotify has invested millions in podcasting, and SiriusXM over the summer dropped $300 million to acquire podcast platform Stitcher.