SiriusXM Ends 2019 With 34.9 Million Paid Subscribers

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM
SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer

The audio entertainment firm, controlled by John Malone's Liberty Media and led by CEO Jim Meyer, finished the year with around 30 million self-pay satellite radio subscribers, but didn't disclose its Pandora user base.

Audio entertainment giant SiriusXM Holdings, the home of Howard Stern, ended 2019 with around 30 million self-pay satellite radio and 34.9 million total paid subscribers, a new high for the firm.

The company on Tuesday said it added more than 1.06 million self-pay SiriusXM subscribers in 2019, exceeding its guidance, but did not break out its year-end Pandora subscriber base. B Riley analyst Zack Silver told THR that he estimates Pandora ended last year with 6.45 million paying subscribers.

SiriusXM also forecast 2020 self-pay net subscriber additions for SiriusXM of more than 900,000 and full-year company revenue of around $8.1 billion.

The company, controlled by John Malone's Liberty Media, had ended September with more than 34.6 million satellite radio subscribers, including more than 29.6 million self-pay subscribers, and nearly 6.3 million self-pay Pandora subscribers.

Said CEO Jim Meyer: "Last year was a milestone for SiriusXM. Not only did we achieve our tenth consecutive year of million-plus self-pay net additions, but we also completed our acquisition of Pandora Media and made significant investments in our business, all while returning more than $2 billion to our stockholders. And our new 2020 guidance points to what should be another excellent year of growth for SiriusXM."

SiriusXM has been touting the synergies between its satellite radio and Pandora streaming businesses, with the CEO last year highlighting that the increased scale helps the firm "to attract and promote new content." 

Meyer has also touted Stern's growing video business, but has emphasized that SiriusXM was "not going to get into the television business or the movie business." Said the CEO last year: "That's not what we do. Our video will be all about enhancing the audio experience" and boosting user engagement.

Also Tuesday, SiriusXM CFO David Frear sidestepped a question during an appearance at the Citi Global TMT Conference in Las Vegas on his company possibly acquiring a post-bankruptcy iHeartRadio, which operates just over 850 radio stations and competes with the satellite radio giant.

"For Sirius, Jim (Meyer) and the rest of the team are heads down focused on Pandora. That's got our plate full right now," Frear said during a session that was webcast. Persistent speculation points to John Malone's Liberty Media possibly expanding its satellite radio platform by adding traditional radio assets.

Frear was also asked how his company might fare during a possible recession for the U.S. economy, and he argued SiriusXM has "resilience." "We do have an incredibly strong cash flow and we do have a good growth trajectory," he added.

Before Monday's subscriber update, B. Riley analyst Silver maintained his "buy" rating on SiriusXM's stock, but increased his stock price target by half a dollar to $8.50, saying he was "staying constructive" on the stock. He predicted that the SiriusXM satellite radio service could add 899,000 self-pay subscribers in 2020.

"While consensus expectations are for a decline in new car sales in 2020, SiriusXM continues to see double-digit growth in used car trial starts and a healthy used car conversion rate," he wrote in a report. "Customer satisfaction remains high and a ramp of new exclusives (e.g. Marvel podcasts, Drake partnership) should bolster subscriber engagement."

SiriusXM's stock was slightly lower in early Tuesday trading.