This Week in Sirius XM Radio


It was another eventful week for the only satellite-radio provider. Shares of Sirius XM Radio (NAS: SIRI) rose a healthy 3.3% on the week, and that was actually shy of the S&P 500's 3.6% advance.

What happened on the Sirius XM front this past week? It was a surprisingly quiet week on the news front, but we still had a mutual fund manager offer some kind words about the company on Bloomberg. A competitor also hit a significant milestone.

Let's take a closer look.

Home is where the hard is
Gabelli & Co. portfolio manager Chris Marangi was on Bloomberg this week talking about Liberty Media (NAS: LMCA) and Sirius XM Radio. His Gabellli Asset Fund owns 270,000 shares of Liberty Media. Since Liberty owns a nearly 50% stake in the satellite radio giant, it's safe to say that Marangi has a bit of money riding on Sirius XM's success.

He likes Sirius XM as an underlying asset of Liberty Media, though not as much as the subscription TV model that has served Liberty well in the past. Still, Marangi agrees that there is potential for Sirius XM as it makes a bigger push into homes.

Right now, satellite radio is consumed largely in cars. There's potential for the home market, Marangi argues, especially given the price of satellite radio relative to satellite television.

It's still important to not to be overly optimistic about satellite radio as a retail product for the home in its current incarnation. Reception can be spotty in many homesteads, and audio entertainment is something normally consumed on the road, where eyes can't be distracted. At home, the multimedia nature of television reigns supreme.

The World Wide Web as a leveler
The barrier to home-based consumption could begin to come down once the company rolls out its own custom radio option next month. Pair that up with the availability of several Sirius XM shows on demand, and you have a pretty compelling streaming service.

Streaming is Sirius XM's way to reach out to listeners who crave audio outside the car. Whether it's on a mobile device on the go or in a Wi-Fi-backed home, there's an untapped market for Sirius XM that Pandora (NYS: P) currently dominates.

Sirius XM offers standalone streaming subscriptions, though it's also available as a cheaper add-on for receiver-based subscribers. Either way, the future has a lot of promise for Sirius XM to grow its subscriber base or to increase its average revenue per user as a result of today's streaming initiatives.

Pandora, by the way, announced this week that it will report earnings on Dec. 4, giving the market a glimpse at how quickly Internet radio is growing these days.

Don't forget the 800-pound terrestrial gorilla in the room
Clear Channel
has been a surprising speedster when it comes to streaming. The traditional radio giant with hundreds of AM and FM stations is the company behind the popular iHeartRadio app, which has been downloaded 135 million times. There are a lot of dormant users in that number, but it's still impressive to see iHeartRadio attracting 49 million unique monthly visitors.

It also has surpassed 20 million registered users. That's impressive, since registration isn't required unless someone wants to create the customized music-discovery streams that consumers associate with Pandora -- and that Sirius XM will be rolling out later this year.

Given the success that iHeartRadio and Pandora have had over the past year, clearly there is room for Sirius XM. The leading digital music retailer may also be a player here soon. Reports that Apple (NAS: AAPL) will enter the market have been circulating for weeks. An iTunes Music update is expected next week, if the tech giant doesn't delay the interface's refresh again. The streaming service isn't likely to be part of that upgrade, but Apple is always full of surprises.

Yes, things continue to get interesting in the realm of premium music.

Running of the bulls
I recently put out a premium report on Sirius XM Radio, detailing the challenges and opportunities that await investors that are both long and short the dynamic media giant. A year of updates is also included with the report. Click here to check it out now.

The article This Week in Sirius XM Radio originally appeared on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz owns shares of Liberty Media. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.