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Liberty takeover, new programming & Super Bowl coverage start the new year for SiriusXM

Liberty+SiriusXMIt’s been a while since we’ve reported on SiriusXM. The big news for the satellite radio provider is that Liberty Media, owner of Discovery Channel and other media interests, was approved for its majority takeover of Sirius by the FCC at the beginning of the year. Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin is no pal of Liberty boss John Malone, so Karmazin left in December. Four members of the Sirius board have been replaced by Malone picks.

SiriusXM had a pretty good 2012, closing out with a net of 2 million new subscribers, despite raising subscription rates 12% at the beginning of the year. The company’s stock now hovers well above $3 a share, which is a nice turnaround from the dark days of 2012 when the NASDAQ warned of delisting, as its stock hovered around $1.

On the programming end of things, SiriusXM has announced a collaboration with Comedy Central to start a new channel, with a projected launch this spring.

The satellite broadcaster is also bolstering its morning show lineup with a new program hosted by stand-up comedian Pete Dominick, who currently hosts an afternoon call-in and interview program on SiriusXM’s Potus politics channel. Dominick’s new program, called “Stand Up!” will anchor the male-oriented talk radio channel (whatever that means), which will be renamed from “Stars Too” to “Indie.” On his new program Dominick says he will “leave celebrity gossip and voyeurism to others while I explore more important issues with my listeners and the experts that can speak to them best.” It debuts February 11.

Finally, SiriusXM has announced play-by-play of the Super Bowl in nine languages, besides English, including Hungarian, Japanese and French. There will be will four more live broadcasts, including one on the BBC.

For 2013 SiriusXM is projecting the addition of another net of 1.4 million subscribers, which many analysts think is a conservative prediction. The company is on the upswing as the competition from streaming music services like Pandora and Spotify heats up. The real battleground is the mobile listening segment, both in vehicles and smartphones. It will be very interesting to see how SiriusXM fares, especially as Clear Channel continues its effort to to turn iHeartRadio into its primary platform and brand. It will be an entertaining year, if nothing else.


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