RealTime IT News

Sirius: BMW Deal is On

Fresh from Tuesday's announcement that it needed $300 million in operating capital by early 2003 to stave off bankruptcy protection or a sale (and the 43 percent stock slide that followed), Sirius Satellite Radio Thursday rushed out of the gate to assure investors that its deal with BMW of North America is still a go.

Sirius said Thursday that BMW has reconfirmed its commitment to offer the Sirius service in its new MINI, as well as the BMW 3 Series, 5 Series and X5.

BMW plans to make the Sirius service available in the fourth quarter as a dealer-installed option through BMW centers and MINI dealerships in the U.S.

The satellite radio firm also has deals in place with DaimlerChrysler (which plans to offer the service in 17 models of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles this fall), Nissan (an option on six Infiniti and Nissan 2003 models), and arrangements with Audi and Volkswagen. It also has agreements to install AM/FM/SAT radios in Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Volvo and Mazda vehicles.

But for all that, the Manhattan-based firm, which launched in February and completed its national rollout in July, must still raise $300 million by early next year and an additional $300 million the following year to stay afloat. And so far it has managed to haul in only about 6,510 subscribers who pay $12.95 a month (on top of a one-time activation fee).

Meanwhile, its Washington, D.C.-based rival, XM Satellite Radio Holdings , has a half-year lead on Sirius, and has gathered about 136,500 subscribers into its fold. XM charges $9.95 a month.

The company Wednesday blamed its slow showing out of the gate on a shortage of "competitive radios at outlets and lack of national advertising and promotional efforts." With Kenwood releasing an FM-modulated Sirius radio this month, and Panasonic and Audiovox expected to release their efforts in the third quarter, the company hopes to turn the corner on the retail problem.