Fans of the "Opie & Anthony Show” vowed to bring down SiriusXM this summer after the satellite radio company fired co-host Anthony Cumia for a series of racially charged tweets, but it doesn’t look like their boycott made much of a dent.
Nearly four months after an ardent hashtag campaign -- in which Cumia listeners attempted to convince SiriusXM subscribers to drop their subscriptions -- the station's subscriber base is at an all-time high. The company gained more than 433,871 paid subscribers during the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, the first full quarter since the boycott. SiriusXM, which reported quarterly earnings Tuesday, said it now has a record 26.7 million paid subscribers.
In an earnings call with analysts Tuesday morning, James E. Meyer, SiriusXM’s chief executive, gave much of the credit to strong quarterly auto sales. New-car penetration was up 71.5 percent compared to the same period last year, and SiriusXM finished the third quarter with approximately 68 million factory-enabled vehicles in operation. More than 14,000 car dealers now provide trial SiriusXM subscriptions on noncertified used vehicles, up from 11,000 at the end of last year.
“We will have many years of growth ahead of us in our primary distribution channel, the vehicle,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he was “very pleased” with the quarter, which saw revenue increase 10 percent to a record $1.1 billion. Net income was up an impressive 117 percent to $136 million and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) rose 29 percent to $381 million.
Team Anthony must be disappointed.
In July, Cumia was fired as the longtime co-host of “Opie & Anthony” after a profanity laced Twitter rant -- since deleted -- aimed at a black woman he claimed attacked him on a New York City street. Following a backlash against the host, SiriusXM acted quickly, calling the tweets “abhorrent” in a statement and saying it had terminated its relationship with Cumia.
That the company acted so swiftly to cut ties was seen by some analysts as another sign of the waning influence of shock-jock radio personalities. Although SiriusXM doesn’t share ratings data for its individual programs, it is assumed hosts like Cumia and Howard Stern have fractions of the audience they did years ago on terrestrial radio.
Shortly after the Twitter dustup, it was clear SiriusXM execs saw Cumia as a liability not worth the risk of consumer backlash.
Cumia has since launched his own video podcast.
Amy Yong, an analyst for Macquarie Capital, told International Business Times in July she did not believe the pro-Cumia boycott would have any measurable effect on SiriusXM Holdings Inc. “It’s just headline noise,” she said.
Fans weren’t convinced. Some spent weeks tweeting profanities at SiriusXM’s Twitter account and posting angry comments on its Facebook page. Many said they canceled their subscriptions for good and some even posted screen captures of their termination notices as proof.
But judging from Tuesday’s numbers, it was a small drop in a growing bucket for SiriusXM. Read the company’s full third-quarter 2014 results here.