There are aspects of subscriber numbers that some people do not look deeply enough into. This can sometimes cause people to have expectations that simply are not realistic.
An example of this has happened with Sirius this Q4.
The fully loaded churn for Sirius for 2007 was 2.2% up from about 1.8% in 2006. This happens because the Sirius OEM deal structures carried a ramp-up, ad the length of the OEM subscriptions was not expiring in 2006 in the same numbers that are happening in 2007.
Last Q4 (2006) deactivation's came in at about 329,000 subscribers. This Q4 (2007) the deactivation number will be a bit over 500,000. Gross subscriber additions in Q4 of 2006 was about 1,235,000. For Q4 of 2007 the gross number will be approaching 1,100,000. This represents a fall off on a gross basis of about 130,000 subscribers for the quarter.
The key is keeping the churn rate as low as possible, and if they can do so, the company can keep growing.
Sirius is now going through the OEM "growing pains" that XM experienced a bit over a year and a half ago. One key differential is that Sirius is winning the retail war, and thus the retail channel, although soft, is helping keep the numbers in line.
Self paying churn at 1.6% is very good. As each quarter passes, the self paying category grows, and when this happens, the self paying churn number becomes more and more important.
It is important to keep a perspective on growth, where the growth is coming from, and the respective churn rates in the categories. Only by doing this can you see a clear picture of the subscriber landscape, and keep expectations real.