Frank Sinatra's coming to your satellite radio receiver whether you want it or not. The legendary crooner would've turned 100 tomorrow, and Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) is celebrating with a weekend of special events that it's also making available to folks with dormant Sirius or XM receivers.
SiriusXM's Siriusly Sinatra -- channel 71 for those that aren't active subscribers or devoted fans of The Chairman of the Board -- kicks off the ear party today. The special programming will feature tribute posts, old television clips, and exclusive comments from performers at the star-studded Sinatra 100 concert that's taking place in Las Vegas over the weekend.
Rallying around a meaty milestone like this with special programming isn't new for Sirius XM. However, what is interesting here is that Sirius XM will activate all Sirius and XM receivers to check out Siriusly Sinatra and a few select channels for free over the weekend. These previews also happen often, but some of the actual channels that will join Siriusly Sinatra in the free access from Friday -- '40s Junction, '50s on 5 and Radio Classics -- also seem to appeal to the same kind of audience that enjoy waxing nostalgic to oldies.
Sirius XM knows what it's doing. It doesn't cost the media giant anything to turn receivers on, even if the vast majority of people driving around in cars with inactive receivers don't know about these free samples.
The potential is substantial. There are 79 million cars out there with Sirius or XM receivers, but that's just a third of the vehicles on the road. Sirius XM sees the fleet of receiver-based cars expanding to 180 million in a few years as more new cars roll off assembly lines with factory-installed receivers.
Sirius XM won't get them all. It only has 29 million subscribers now. However, that also means that there are 50 million receivers out there that could be exposed to the free weekend of Sinatra. As Sirius XM gets better about promoting these preview weekends it will be more effective in reaching buyers of secondhand cars, a market that will only grow in importance for the premium radio provider.
The base of potential subscribers grows with every of these preview weekends, and while Sirius XM hasn't been vocal about the success of this promotional stunt in the past, it wouldn't keep doing this if it wasn't working.
Sirius XM doesn't have too many regrets on the way to becoming the leading premium audio platform, so it will keep doing things its way.