Sirius XM Is Driven to Win

Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI  ) is once against shifting into drive in the resale market.

The satellite radio provider announced a deal this morning with Kia, arming its used-car department with financial incentives to push premium radio if it's available. Buyers of pre-owned vehicles that already have factory-installed Sirius or XM receivers will be receiving complimentary three-month trial subscriptions.

It's smart bait.

Sirius XM knows that getting drivers hooked on premium radio is easy. A healthy 44% of car buyers who kick the tires of satellite radio convert into self-paying customers. Sirius XM also gets the important contact information that it wouldn't otherwise have, allowing the company to market directly to buyers of secondhand cars down the line.

The South Korean automaker's Kia Motors America subsidiary joins what are now more than 9,000 auto dealerships in the Sirius XM Pre-Owned Vehicle Program.

Just 30% of the 50 million cars that are bought in this country are new. One would think that buyers of used cars aren't as lucrative potential subscribers as those paying up for vehicles with that new-car smell. Aren't they less likely to have the disposable income to pay for radio subscriptions? Thankfully, that isn't the case.

CFO David Frear recently revealed that there is no difference in the churn rate between subscribers driving off the lot with new or old cars. Churn rates will naturally be higher for those on monthly plans instead of annual installments -- and that's where the used-car market loses some of its appeal -- but there is just no difference between buyers on the same plan. The value proposition for Sirius XM is too great on the resale front. The receiver's already in the car! The investment was made years earlier. Why should it remain dormant?

Sirius XM can't afford to wait in getting the word out.

The dashboard is about to get crowded as consumers load up on smartphones and tech giants introduce streaming services. Sirius XM's conversion rate has held up well in the connected car, but things will get interesting once Apple and Google introduce their streaming platforms later this year. Google hasn't made any bones about jumping into the streaming music market, and there are too many reports claiming that Apple is negotiating with the record labels for streaming rights to ignore.

A war for the dashboard is coming, and the bigger Sirius XM's army is when the battle begins the better.

Let's get serious about Sirius
Despite Sirius XM being one of the market's biggest winners since bottoming out three years ago, there is still some healthy upside to be had if things go right for it -- and plenty of room for it to fall if things don't. Read all about Sirius in The Motley Fool's brand-new premium report. To get started, just click here now.

 


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  • Report this Comment On April 09, 2013, at 10:56 PM, BillFromNY wrote:

    Geez, could Sirius run an ad on TV every year or so? Actually I think that they did run one once. I remember Ellen.

    This reliance on autos for everything could get old fast. For one thing, I will step way out on a limb and predict that the current surge in auto sales will be followed by a slump in auto sales. I'm not rash enough to predict when.

    Sirius is not constructed as an entertainment provider for commuters. They write off mass transit and short commutes. But even more, they have scheduled shows and lots of them need a home radio. Just a few examples:

    In the wide world of 60s oldies, where those that grew up on that music haven't quite started to die off en masse yet, Cousin Brucie, now 75 years old but not sounding a bit different on air from 1965, has shows on two nights a week, one of them being Saturday.

    For a slightly older group, or maybe nearly the same group, on the Sinatra channel his daughter Nancy hosts a once a week (with repeats) show full of rare recordings, anecdotes, stories of growing up with the Rat Pack, etc. A gold mine for Sinatra fans.

    And let me throw in the Sirius Metropolitan Opera channel that broadcasts something like three live operas a week.

    Now you say that the percentage of opera lovers is going to be pretty insignificant. But that's the deal with Sirius. They have so many small niches that everyone can find their own favorite.

    But that doesn't do you much good if you're relying on your subscribers to go out and sit in their cars for three hours. Sirius has to go get their receivers in the home.

    Of course their early attempts with portables (both Sirius and XM) were dismal. Having to have a direct view of a satellite was just not going to cut it. But now increasingly large numbers of homes have wireless routers and the Internet medium is much kinder to their needs.

    I have their Internet TTR receiver and it's not a bad radio once you get it set up. And then remember how to set it up since every few months it seems to lose its way and has to be guided to a connect again.

    Dedicated home receivers. Reasonably priced and easy to set up. Do it.

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