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Arbitron Study of Satellite Radio Shows More Than 35 Million ‘Premium’ Listeners


SIRIUS XM Radio announced the results of an Arbitron study of satellite radio subscribers conducted in October and November 2009 that found listenership is larger than previously estimated and scores much higher on key demographic criteria compared to the general population and AM/FM radio listeners.

Arbitron’s study showed that more than 35 million total adult listeners tune in to SIRIUS XM, 32 million of which are weekly listeners.

The study found SIRIUS XM listeners prefer satellite radio over other audio options available to them. Respondents indicated that the percent of total time spent listening to audio in general is 62% to SIRIUS XM, 16% to AM/FM, 4% to streaming internet, and 10% of the time using mobile devices.

Arbitron found that in a typical day, SIRIUS XM listeners spend 2 hours and 45 minutes in their vehicle, which is significant, given that while they are in their cars, they spend 71% of their time listening to SIRIUS XM compared with 17% of their time listening to AM/FM radio, and 5% of the time using mobile devices.

Significantly, the Arbitron study revealed that past week SIRIUS XM listeners indexed higher on key audience attributes – education, income, and receptiveness:

  • Highly-educated audience. 56% of SIRIUS XM listeners graduated from college or have advanced degrees compared with 24% of AM/FM radio listeners and 25% of the general population(1).
  • Affluent listener base. 24% of SIRIUS XM listeners have household incomes of $150,000 or more compared with 9% of AM/FM radio listeners and 9% of the general population(2).
  • Highly receptive to commercials. Of those who indicated they were more likely to change the channel when a commercial came on, in comparing SIRIUS XM and AM/FM radio, SIRIUS XM listeners are 61% more likely to stay with a commercial on satellite radio than with those that air on AM/FM radio stations.

“This study proves what we at SIRIUS XM have known for years – not only do we have the best programming in radio, but we have some of the most valuable listeners in all of media,” said Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer, SIRIUS XM. “Our combination of unparalleled audio content and unrivaled in-car delivery continues to attract a discerning cross-section of Americans.”

“In a time of divergent media and ever greater competition for consumers’ attention, this Arbitron study leads national advertisers to a highly-prized premium consumer audience.” said Kathleen Mahoney, Vice President, Market Research, SIRIUS XM. “We are proud to have this engaged and influential audience of more than 35 million people who passionately listen to SIRIUS XM more than four times longer than they do to AM/FM radio.”

The Arbitron study excluded SIRIUS XM’s music channels since they are commercial free. The study focused solely on SIRIUS XM’s news, talk, entertainment, sports, and other commercial programming channels. Arbitron found that listeners spent more than seven hours a week listening to these commercial channels on SIRIUS XM.

(1) Scarborough USA Plus, Release 1, 2009.

(2) Scarborough USA Plus, Release 1, 2009.