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Satellite radio sees subscriber growth

Competing satellite radio companies Sirius and XM say they bested their year-end subscriber goals.

Dueling satellite radio companies ended the year with dueling boasts of significant subscriber increases.

Boosted by increasing visibility and holiday sales of satellite radio devices, XM Satellite Radio said it surpassed its year-end goal of 3.1 million subscribers, set in February, after starting the year with 1.3 million subscribers, while Sirius Satellite Radio said it bested its own goal of 1 million subscribers.

"This was an outstanding year for us," said Chance Patterson, vice president of corporate affairs for XM Radio in Washington, D.C. "Our significant growth was fueled by strong performance at retail, where we have had a number of hit products over the last year."

Patterson also credited increases in factory and dealer-installed XM radio units. General Motors signed up its 1 millionth XM subscriber, he said. And Toyota this year said it would add both XM and Sirius capabilities to its autos installed by dealers in 2005 and XM at the factory in 2006.

The two companies stand to improve on this year's growth as they add high-profile talent to their line-ups. Howard Stern this year said he would make the leap to Sirius after his Viacom contract expires in 2006. XM has inked valuable sports-broadcasting deals and broadcast TV ads featuring an Elton John hit.

Patterson said XM was poised to grow faster than its rival.

"We have more music programming and their service is more expensive," Patterson said. "And from a product development standpoint they're about a year behind us. And we have wider availability in the new car market."

Sirius was not immediately available for comment.