RealTime IT News

Sirius Tops 3M Subscribers

Satellite radio provider Sirius, the No. 2 pay-radio service in the United States, says it surpassed three million subscriber mark this week, and expect numbers to rise as the company prepares for talk-show host Howard Stern's Jan. 9 debut.

The New York-based Sirius, which has 120 commercial-free stations, had predicted on Nov. 1 it would surpass the three million user mark at year-end. The company also said it expects a "strong" end of the year surge in enrollment.

Sirius started November with 2.17 million users.

Sirius signed Stern to a the five-year, $500 million deal back in October 2004, and has been ramping up preparations for his arrival.

Sirius has estimated that Stern only would need to generate approximately 1 million subscribers in order to cover the costs of the deal. Production and operating costs for the Stern show, including compensation for the show cast and staff, and a budget for the development of additional programming is estimated to be approximately $100 million per year, according to the company.

"When you look at his enormous existing fan base, all we need is for Howard to bring in a small fraction of his weekly audience for this agreement to pay for itself," Joseph Clayton, CEO of Sirius, said in a statement.

Sirius' chief competitor, Washington, D.C.-based XM Satellite Radio, has 4.4 million subscribers. In July, the firm bought WCS Wireless for about $200 million in stock to increase its bandwidth and coverage in major cities.