Despite the coronavirus epidemic, SiriusXM’s in first-quarter of 2020 earnings today painted a picture of what’s ahead for the music and entertainment business. Although the group shocked in the quarter ended March 2020 with both an earnings and revenue gain, its satellite radio division still lost net subscribers due to decreases in car shipments, and the group spoke of more decreases in ad revenues and consumer reactions to its marketing strategy.
The organization managed to exceed targets in the quarter, posting $1.95 billion in sales, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 2.63 points. And it reported earnings per share of $0.07 (a profit of $293 million), exceeding the $0.05 prediction per share, and rising from the $0.03 earnings per share a year earlier.
But the earnings beat comes at a time when even SiriusXM is not sure what the future holds for its company — it removed its outlook for the full year 2020, noting the still uncertain impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
Nonetheless, there have also been signs about how the future will look. The drop in shipments from manufacturers selling paid trial subscriptions with a purchase of a car led the company’s satellite radio division in the first quarter to lose 143,000 net subscribers. This is with the addition of 69,000 self-paid users, and with 34.8 million cumulative users, SiriusXM finished the year.
The music streaming service Pandora, operated by SiriusXM, has signed 51,000 net new self-paying users to its paid rates, Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium. Pandora finished the period with more than 6.2 million self-paid subscribers and a total of 6.3 million paying subscribers plus those who came in from other promotions.
Pandora’s ad sales increased by 4 percent year-over-year to $241 million in the quarter due to web content and engagement-based advertising, its extension of off-site activities, and its AdsWizz product fees — a 20 percent rise in ad revenue as per 2018 acquisition.
Yet Pandora’s gross income fell to $105 million year-over-year, as overall operating expenses soared, including those related to higher market share and sales, customer support, billing, and more.
Then there were the predicted declines related to the early effects of the coronavirus.
While most of those problems did not hit until March, SiriusXM cautioned that “auto subscriptions, advertisements, and consumer reactions to marketing promotions all fell steadily in the second half of March.” That’s only a few weeks, mind you, which makes it look like the company hasn’t felt the full impact of the pandemic on its subscription rise, ad revenues, or overall revenue.
The firm says it plans to see decreases in ad revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic at both SiriusXM and Pandora, as well as decreases in its satellite radio and product revenues.
Given all these problems, there are places where SiriusXM could excel, as the quarantine for coronavirus continues — especially its exclusive entertainment offerings.
There are also signs now that people are searching for other ways to stay occupied in quarantine than only constantly watching Netflix. Nintendo fails to keep the Nintendo Switch in stock due, for example, to popular games like Animal Crossing and even podcast listening continues to rebound from the initial coronavirus hit.