John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Sirius Subscribership Injured in Chrysler, GM Bankruptcy Pile-Up

siri_baddogjpg1If you thought the decline in subscribers Sirius XM Radio posted in its first quarter was ugly, you ain’t seen nothing yet. With the souring economy weighing heavily on the auto industry–a mainstay of Sirius’s business–and partner Chrysler navigating bankruptcy, the struggling company is bracing itself for continued subscriber losses in its second quarter.

“Chrysler’s bankruptcy and announced factory shut-down will impact second quarter numbers by reducing the number of prepaid bundled subscriptions associated with the production and shipment of new cars,” Jim Meyer, Sirius’s President of Operations and Sales, said during a conference call last week. “There will be a noticeable hit to subscribers in the second quarter, as a result of these production halts.”

A noticeable hit. What does that mean? Sirius didn’t say at the time, but a filing the company made with the SEC today gives us a clearer picture–and it’s not a pretty one. Chrysler sent quite a bit of new business Sirius’s way. From the Risk Factors item in the company’s 10-Q filing:

We do not expect to generate a significant number of new subscribers from Chrysler while its plants are closed. During the year ended December 31, 2008, Chrysler produced approximately 900,000 vehicles which included a satellite radio and a prepaid subscription to our service. These subscribers represented approximately 16% of our gross subscriber additions in 2008.”

Now, there’s no telling how long the Chrysler factory shutdown will last, so it’s impossible to know how much of an impact it will have on Sirius. That said, if the company’s bankruptcy proceedings drag on for any length of time, it obviously does not bode well for Sirius, especially since XM is potentially facing a similar scenario with General Motors (GM). Again, from the Sirius 10-Q:

There is also significant uncertainty surrounding General Motors’ future and potential filing for bankruptcy protection. A bankruptcy filing by General Motors could have similar effects on our subsidiary, XM.

And that would be grim news indeed. Because while Sirius has stopped counting on its auto partnerships to drive sales, it hasn’t yet established other means of driving subscriptions.