Sirius XM Radio Adds 1.7 Million Subscribers in 2011; CEO Mocks Competition

58 BIZ Mel Karmazin
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While disclosing good news about the new media company he runs, Mel Karmazin takes a few shots at Pandora and Clear Channel.

Sirius XM Radio said Wednesday it added 1.7 million subscribers in 2011, then CEO Mel Karmazin gave a backhand compliment to one competitor, online music service Pandora, and insinuated another, Clear Channel Communications, was a bit stodgy.

Speaking at Citi's 22nd Annual Global Entertainment Media & Telecommunications Conference, Karmazin said Sirius XM had its best year in terms of adding subscribers since Sirius and XM merged. In the fourth quarter, it added 540,000 to end the year with 21.9 million subscribers.

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Then the CEO started to compare his company with Pandora and Clear Channel, noting that the latter, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, takes in about $3 billion in annual revenue, the same amount generated by Sirius XM, which has been in existence only 10 years.

Karmazin, in fact, isn't enamored with the advertising model in general -- whether its attached to old-fashioned radio or to online music. Sirius XM, he said, boasts 10 times the revenue of Pandora.

"Pandora is a really good company," he said Wednesday in San Francisco. "They've been around for as long as we have -- they've been around for about 10 years. They have about 40 million regular users, maybe more now, and they have $300 million in revenue. So, you know, business models matter. We like our business model of subscription better than the advertising-driven model."