Giant Step for Sirius

How does a struggling satellite radio service increase its market exposure more than 20-fold in one fell swoop? Simple. It enters a sweetheart deal with one of the biggest satellite TV companies in North America.

That's exactly what Sirius Satellite Radio did in mid-May. The New York–based Sirius signed an agreement with EchoStar's DISH Network to provide 9.7 million DISH subscribers with an array of music programming that most of them have almost certainly not encountered before. The deal instantly elevated the potential number of Sirius listeners from a previous base of 400,000—a figure attained only a few days earlier. Sirius regularly gains new subscribers through initial exposure with Hertz rental cars, but that is an insignificant number compared to total DISH subscribers.

Sirius and EchoStar announced their partnership at the DISH Network 2004 Team Summit Satellite Television Conference in Dallas on Thursday, May 20. Terms of the partnership include delivering Sirius music channels to DISH Network's premium package subscribers at no extra charge. DISH Network customers with basic packages will have the option to upgrade their subscriptions to include Sirius, according to a joint announcement.

"Satellite radio is one of the hottest products, and Sirius has the best programming in this exciting new entertainment category," said EchoStar CEO Charles Ergen. "At DISH Network, we stand for the best in quality, and that's why we decided to link up with Sirius—to provide our listeners with the most varied music in satellite radio . . . we believe that Sirius has the depth and variety of programming to satisfy our customers."

DISH Network dealers throughout the US will roll out combined DISH/Sirius home systems and will offer subscribers DISH-branded Sirius satellite radio receivers. Among the versatile products to be available soon is the transportable DISH Network satellite radio receiver, model SR200, said to be easily installed in a car, truck, boat, or RV. The DISH SR200, plus car kit and antenna, will be available through DISH Network retailers at a suggested price of $149.95. The receiver will also dock in a go-anywhere portable speaker "boombox," available later this summer at an undetermined price.