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2011 Conference Call sheds more light on SXM 2.0

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During this mornings 2011 2nd Quarter Conference call Sirius XM’s CEO Mel Karmazin, President of Sales & Operations Jim Meyer and Scott Greenstein revealed more details about the elusive Sirius XM 2.0.

According to Karmazin “Sirius XM continues to work hard on SiriusXM 2.0, which will be ready to launch in the retail channel by the end of the year as previously disclosed.”

Meyer went on to say “SXM 2.0 is a major upgrade and evolution of our satellite- and internet-delivered networks that span our hardware, software and audio and data content. We are rolling it out in phases, bringing more content and capabilities to our satellite platform, while also employing connectivity technologies such as WiFi, Bluetooth and the Internet to create exciting complements to our core radio services.

This upgrade will first be available to subscribers late this year when we make 2 new-generation radios available at retail. These radios will be able to carry more channels than ever before, thanks to expanded bandwidth, and provide functions that help you enjoy satellite radio like never before.

A primary goal of what we have called Sirius 2.0 has always been to secure the commitment of our OEM partners to the next generation of satellite radio technology. We have been sharing that vision with our car partners, and I’m happy to report they are very excited about the new technology and how it will add to the driving experience. In fact, we expect to be able to announce, by year end, launch plans for at least one of our OEM partners to begin factory implementation of 2.0 features as early as next year. I’ll note here that SXM 2.0 is designed to carry us through many years and will allow us the freedom to make upgrades and additions by software without our OEM partners having to change hardware in their head units. It will also allow us 25% more bandwidth for expanded audio and data services, as well as replay and time-shift listening capabilities. We’ve also been working hard to upgrade our IP-delivered services. Late this year, we will add new convenience features such as pause and rewind. In addition, we will add a new feature called Start Now, which will allow our IP subscribers to easily time-shift most of our channels by up to 5 hours.

We will continue to evolve our IP offerings by adding true on-demand capabilities for music and talk content early next year. In addition, we intend to provide subscribers the ability to build true personalization of our winning, exclusive and accurately-curated content into their SiriusXM experience. We should be able to announce those personalization features in the first half of next year.

Finally Greenstein stated “As part of SiriusXM 2.0, we are launching a compelling new suite of channels that takes advantage of our new bandwidth and bolsters our online and mobile services. As part of this new suite, SiriusXM will deliver a robust line of Hispanic channel that will become the top destination for the best, most unique and exclusive audio in entertainment, sports and music for Latinos in both Spanish and English. SiriusXM will target the bilingual, bicultural, mid- to upper-income segment of the U.S. Hispanic population with this very combination of Spanish and English language content, of course taking into consideration their traditions, roots and values. With this new Hispanic content offering, SiriusXM will offer more variety than present in any other market in the United States, as well as unique formats that do not currently exist in terrestrial Spanish language radio. To use one example of how in-depth our offering will be, SiriusXM’s new Hispanic channel, coupled with our overall Hispanic programming, will deliver over 50% more the amount of Hispanic formats that are available in Los Angeles, which is the largest Hispanic market in the U.S. and has the most terrestrial Spanish language stations. While some other markets in the U.S. do not even have one terrestrial Spanish language radio station, SiriusXM will clearly be a factor in those markets as well.

As you can see, SiriusXM intends to compete — and compete vigorously in the Hispanic content market. We will be doing that by having SiriusXM’s Hispanic content represent a combination of 100% commercial-free music programming developed by top Hispanic programming talent, coupled with leading brands in news, sports and entertainment, including exclusive Hispanic content.

In addition to the impact that this new contact — this new content will have to the Hispanic markets across the country, SiriusXM’s Hispanic offering represents significant marketing opportunities with our OEM and retail partners who have already expressed enthusiasm for the product. To complement the Hispanic channel, SiriusXM will also, as part with SiriusXM 2.0, be launching a dynamic and exclusive new suite of music and comedy channel, including in-house and branded content channels.”

The above gives us a better idea of what to expect when SXM 2.0 Launches later this year. I expect the new Radios to be available before the Holiday season.

I would also like to mention that the FCC price freeze has been lifted and based on Karmazin’s discussion during the call I expect new tiers of service once SXM 2.0 is launched.