Sirius Satellite Radio

Sirius Satellite Radio
Sirius Satellite Radio NASDAQ: SIRI is a satellite radio (DARS) service based in New York City that provides 68 streams (channels) of music and 55 streams of sports, news and entertainment to the United States and Canada. Music streams on Sirius carry a wide variety of music genres, broadcasting 24 hours a day, commercial free. With any Sirius-enabled radio, the user can see the artist and song information on display while listening to the stream. The streams are broadcast from three satellites in an elliptical geosynchronous orbit above North America. A subset of Sirius’ music channels are included as part of the DISH Network satellite television service. Sirius channels are identified by Arbitron with the label “XS” (e.g. “XS120”, “XS9”, “XS17”).

Sirius headquarters are in Manhattan. Its business model is to provide pay-for-service radio, analogous to the business model for premium cable television, in which music channels are free of commercials. Subscription costs for Sirius range from $12.95/mo. to $499.99 for a lifetime subscription (of the receiver, not the subscriber). A $10 activation fee ($15 if activated by phone) is also required. Sirius currently has fewer subscribers compared to competitor XM Satellite Radio, with 4 million, less than XM’s current audience of roughly 6.5 million (as of April 13, 2006). However, Sirius is gaining new subscribers at a faster rate than XM.

Sirius was previously known as CD Radio. The company changed its name to Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. on November 18, 1999. The dog in the Sirius logo (Sirius is referred to as the “Dog Star”) is unofficially named “Mongo,” a name garnered from the debut of Sirius Satellite Radio’s sponsorship on Casey Atwood’s and later Jimmy Spencer’s NASCAR entry, when the announcing cast voted on names. “Mongo” later became NASCAR driver Spencer’s nickname with the NASCAR Broadcasters in the following races.

A major component of Sirius’ business strategy has been to execute far-reaching and exclusive deals with big-name entertainers and personalities to create and build broadcast streams, from the ground up. Sirius has reached extensive deals with domestic diva Martha Stewart, E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt (aka Little Steven), Jimmy Buffett, and Eminem to executive produce streams on Sirius.

By far the biggest of these deals was announced on October 6, 2004 when Sirius announced that it signed a five-year, $500-million agreement with Howard Stern to move his radio show to Sirius starting on January 9, 2006.[1] The deal, which gave Sirius exclusive rights to Stern’s radio show, also gave Stern the right to build three full-time programming channels. Stern stated that his move was forced by the stringent regulations of the FCC whose enforcement was intensified following the Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show. Beginning with the announcement of his imminent departure, Stern began to complain of one of his employers, Infinity Broadcasting, as trying to impede the success of his departure.

In Howard Stern’s first major hire for Sirius, Stern brought on board Tampa, FL based Bubba the Love Sponge, fired by Clear Channel due to a $750,000 fine proposed by the FCC Reuters, to do a show on Sirius.

In addition to the channel-programming deals, Sirius has also programmed a number of more conventional shows with well known personalities in a number of fields. These shows are hosted by personalities including skateboard legend Tony Hawk, seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, The B-52’s lead singer Fred Schneider, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton and longtime New York City DJ “Cousin Brucie”, who was dropped by WCBS-FM after the station changed to its format from an oldies station to a “Jack” format. Generally the personalities act as DJs hosting shows with music they personally like.

On October 25, 2005 Sirius announced that “E Street Radio”, the exclusive channel of legendary artist Bruce Springsteen, would air from November 1, 2005 to January 31, 2006 on the Bridge – Channel 10.