Sirius offers music channels on Web site

By | January 8, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Satellite radio broadcaster Sirius Satellite Radio said Monday it had begun offering its 60 commercial-free music channels on its Web site ahead of the launch of its subscription radio satellite service next month.

New York-based Sirius also announced more details of its launch plan, with eight cities to be gradually added throughout the spring to the original four ahead of a nationwide launch sometime in July or August.

Sirius will launch in Phoenix, Ariz.; Denver; Houston and Jackson, Mississippi, Feb. 14, followed by Albuquerque, N.M.; Tulsa, Okla.; Little Rock, Ark., and Dallas in early April, and then Indianapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; Tampa Bay, Fla., and Miami in June.

Joe Clayton, Sirius chief executive, said the company was likely to add between 150,000 and 200,000 subscribers in the first year, in line with consensus analyst estimates.

“I’d say it’ll be somewhere close to that,” Clayton said at a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show here.

Clayton said the company will launch different promotions in each of the service’s first four cities as a way to test different pricing plans and promotions.

Clayton, who said the company is fully funded through the second quarter of 2003, said the company also plans to experiment with tiers of service and multiyear pricing plans.

Sirius also unveiled a number of new products, including a plug-and-play radio that can be used in the car and the home; and a “boombox” portable stereo with a built-in antenna.

The other satellite radio broadcaster, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., launched its product late last year. XM was to announce its current subscriber base during a press conference here later Monday.

However, Clayton brushed off XM’s lead time relative to Sirius, which has postponed its launch.

“A few months… will not have a material effect on the long-term success and viability of this product,” Clayton said.

Clayton said he expected the company to eventually get to 2 million to 3 million subscribers, reaching positive cash flow in 2004 or 2005.

Sirius said it chose Microsoft Corp’s Windows Media Technologies to stream its 60 live music channels.

In an interview with Reuters, Clayton also discussed other prospective deals for the company, including working with XM to make radios that could receive both services, and jointly selling and delivering satellite radio and satellite television.

“Who’s to say we wouldn’t use a satellite television antenna for satellite radio reception?” Clayton said.

As for radios interoperable with XM’s service, Clayton said, “We’ve had initial meetings” but predicted both services would be on their third generation of technology before such radios were available.

Shares of Sirius slipped 7 cents to $9.88 on the Nasdaq market.

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