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The only thing worse than a dormant satellite radio receiver for Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) is one that is being underutilized.
In a slick move to get its regular Sirius subscribers hooked on the premium content that it only makes available to listeners of its pricier Sirius Plus plan, the media giant is rolling out a free preview that will cover several weeks.
From now through May 6, Sirius customers will be treated to several channels that aren't covered in their $14.49 a month plan.
Oprah Radio is one of the unlocked channels that listeners will have access to until early next month, but the real allure here comes from the sporting end of the programming. The IZOD IndyCar Series channel as well as play-by-play coverage of pro hockey and basketball games are timely inclusions in the plan.
- The NHL playoffs begin today.
- There are just two more weeks of NBA action, and then the playoffs kick in.
- In IndyCar racing news, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will take place on Sunday. The Sao Paulo Indy 300 follows two weeks later.
In other words, Sirius XM is giving millions of subscribers on its Sirius side a taste for something just as the content is about to get interesting. The NBA playoffs stretch into late June this year, so don't be surprised if folks get hooked -- even those who may not realize that they stumbled across preview content -- and decide to pay as little as $2.09 a month more on an annual basis for the Sirius All Access plan that also includes Web-based smartphone and online streaming.
Sirius XM can use the boost. Average revenue per user has shrunk from $11.80 a month to $11.61. That is largely the result of a reduction in the music royalty fee that many of its listeners are paying, but it's still a metric that the company can get moving in the right direction with plan upgrades.
Average revenue per user should climb this year given its recent rate hike, but there's no shame in going after incremental business.
Users taking advantage of the preview plan to upgrade next month will also help increase Sirius XM's streaming traffic. Even if Sirius XM can never compete with the mostly free Pandora (NYSE: P ) -- the fast-growing music discovery speedster that saw its revenue soar 71% in its latest quarter -- beefing up its streaming presence can only help in this booming smartphone market.
So let the puck drop, the jump ball soar, and drivers, start your engines.
The game's afoot, in more ways than the obvious.
Running of the bulls
I remain bullish on Sirius XM's future. It should come as no surprise that I'm promoting the CAPScall initiative for accountability by reiterating my bullish call on Sirius XM for Motley Fool CAPS.
XM Satellite Radio was a Rule Breakers recommendation before the Sirius XM merger. It's now gone from the scorecard, but if you want to discover the newsletter service's next rule-breaking multibagger, a free report reveals all.