Port Washington, N.Y. — Plug-and-play satellite-radio tuners remained the most popular option for satellite-radio purchasers in 2006, with personal headphone-type satellite radios running a distant second, The NPD Group found.
A plug-and-play tuner can be plugged into home and car stereo systems through docking kits, enabling subscribers to listen to satellite radio programs in multiple venues while paying for only one subscription. Personal, or wearable, radios are designed for listening outside the home or car. Some receive live programming outside the home or car and record satellite radio programs for later playback. Other personal radios do not receive live programming when the user is on the go, but they do store live programming recorded inside the home for on-the-go listening. Most personal tuners also store MP3 files transferred from a home PC.
Whatever their popularity, almost every type of satellite radio suffered retail-level sales declines in 2006, except for car direct-connect tuners and home radios, NPD found. Total tuner sales were off about 19 percent to about 2.2 million, down about 511,000 from 2005’s levels, NPD statistics show. The declines mirrored an approximate decline of about 400,000 in the number of net new satellite-radio subscribers, based on 2006 figures supplied by XM and Sirius. The number of net new subscribers hit 4.42 million in 2006, down from 4.82 million in 2005, although the total subscriber base reached 13.7 million by the end of 2006.
NPD’s numbers are based on a retailer survey that excludes Wal-Mart and online retailers.