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XM Radio Canada Reports 60% Growth, but Falls Behind Sirius

7:30 am on June 11, 2006 | Category: Business, Corporate, Mobile Devices, Wireless Technology


Canada’s biggest satellite radio operator, XM Radio Canada, has easily exceeded forecasts during its first six months in business, with a total of 80,000 paying subscribers as of May 30th.

This represents growth of about 60% since the end of February, and beats the company’s own forecast of 75,000 subscribers at the end of August.

Some bad news for XM is that it seems to be falling behind rival, Sirius Satellite Radio in terms of overall popularity. Sirius, which trails XM in the much larger American market, announced over a month ago (May 10th) that it had managed to recruit 100,000 customers in Canada.

These numbers suggest that Sirius has picked up twice as many customers as its rival in the past few months, since each company had about 50,000 users at the end of February.

In an attempt to turn around this apparent trend, XM recently beefed up its channel selection from 80 to 100 stations, but was quickly outdone once again by Sirius, which quickly began offering 110 channels.

XM, however, has scored at least one decisive victory in the past few months, announcing a distribution agreement with Toyota Canada. Beginning in August select Toyota and Lexus vehicles will come equipped with XM radio receivers, and free six-month subscriptions.

As both providers bend over backwards to recruit the most Canadian subscribers, it is most definitely customers that stand to win out. At this early stage, Canada’s satellite radio industry is still ripe for the picking, and everyone knows it.

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    1. For some reason, it’s the opposite of what’s going on in the U.S.– XM on top and Sirius lagging behind slightly. On the satellite television front, it’s DirecTV (which offers XM) as the supreme cabler and Dish Network (offering Sirius) as the underdog. Hmm…? I wonder what Bell ExpressVu and Star Choice will do.

      Comment by Chris McCaw — June 11, 2006 #

    2. Let’s see what happens when the all the Sirus subscibers find out that the NHL will be exclusively on XM next season.

      Comment by Manny — June 12, 2006 #

    3. Chris – this is exactly the same trend as in the US:

      XM launched first (and with GM) and therefore is bigger than SIRIUS in both the US and Canada

      but SIRIUS has added more big-name content: NFL, Stern, etc. and therefore is growing much more quickly.

      SIRIUS will have almost caught up by the end of the year.

      The other thing that is interesting about the Canadian subscription numbers is that, since SIRIUS and XM satellites broadcast the same digital signal into both Canada and the US, and only the settings on the player determine the difference between the Canadian and US content, MANY Canadian consumers buy their radios from mail-order or internet vendors in the US so that they can get the US signal.

      They either subscribe to the US signal by using a friend or relative in the US as their billing address, or by buying Pre-paid XM or SIRIUS Subscription cards.

      Comment by Sean Harper — June 12, 2006 #

    4. One of the reasons XM is falling behind is that sirius has far better coverage in Canada. I have both, XM at home and Sirius in my vechile, I would sooner just have XM only, but in BC the coverage is very poor with XM. With Sirius I do not get any dead spots, with XM it is a constant problem. So get another bird up there so you can match Sirius’s coverage.


      Comment by Henri Gummesen — May 13, 2008 #

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