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For XM, Howard Stern is the king of satellite radio

October 25, 2007

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http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/2007/10/25/2007-10-25_for_xm_howard_stern_is_the_king_of_satel-2.html

For XM, Howard Stern is the king of satellite radio



Whether or not Howard Stern is the king of all media, he's definitely king of satellite radio.

Arbitron has released its first-ever ratings for XM and Sirius, covering April-June 2007, and they show that in an average week, 1,225,000 listeners at some point heard Stern.

Arbitron says just one other satellite channel - XM's "Top 20 on 20" - tops a million.

Neither XM nor Sirius subscribes to Arbitron, fearing Arbitron may undercount satellite listeners, and XM spokesman Nathaniel Brown yesterday said this survey underscores that concern.

"The survey is a random sample of listeners, not subscribers," he said. "And when respondents did not specify whether they heard a show on satellite or terrestrial radio, terrestrial got the credit. That's a huge problem."

Arbitron had the listenership for XM's Major League Baseball channels averaging less than 400,000 a week, Brown said XM's own figures indicated that by July it was about 2.3 million.

In Stern's last months on terrestrial radio in 2005, his show reached about 6 million listeners a week. The new Arbitron figures suggest about 20% of that number now hear him on Sirius.

"He doesn't have the audience he had on terrestrial," says radio consultant and analyst Robert Unmacht. "But he's doing very well. You don't need the same numbers on satellite to succeed."

"Howard is why Sirius is where it is today," says Tom Taylor, editor of radio-info.com. Once well behind XM, Sirius now is the potentially dominant partner in a proposed merger.

Opie and Anthony of XM, part of whose show is still available on terrestrial radio and who were off the air for a month during the spring ratings period, lagged well behind Stern on satellite, averaging 216,800 listeners a week.

Opie recently called the raw number misleading. "I guarantee that with what Sirius is paying Howard and XM is paying us, we're making more money for the company than he is," Opie said.

In general, "star" channels like Martha Stewart and Eminem on Sirius, or Oprah and Snoop Dogg on XM, did not stand out.

Because Arbitron didn't break listening into age groups or times of day, it's hard to get ratings for a show like Bob Dylan's on XM.

Channels that did well included Fox News, ESPN Radio, country, comedy, '50s and '60s music.

"Satellite listeners like things they can't get on terrestrial," said Unmacht, "and they like it when it's not just a jukebox."

Overall, XM, with more than 8 million subscribers, averaged 10,332,900 listeners a week. Sirius, with 7 million subscribers, averaged 6,595,000 listeners a week.

What's on top up there

Here are the satellite channels with the highest numbers of total listeners in the average week:

XM TALK

1. Fox News 485,400

2. XM Comedy 422,200

3. ESPN Radio 262,600

4. The Virus (Opie & Anthony) 216,800

5. CNN 211,800

SIRIUS TALK

1. Howard 100 (Stern) 1,225,100

2. Howard 101 502,000

3. Blue Collar Comedy 311,200

4. NASCAR 177,600

5. Raw Dog (comedy) 171,600

XM MUSIC

1. Top 20 on 20 1,055,300

2. Flight 26 (adult contemp.) 713,700

3. '70s on 7 654,100

4. '80s on 8 648,900

5. '60s on 6 619,600

SIRIUS MUSIC

1. Sirius Hits 653,200

2. New Country 455,900

3. Big 80s 450,000

4. The Pulse ('90s) 405,000

5. Octane (hard rock) 357,600



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