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Sirius XM Ends Q3 With Record 19.8 Million Subs; State AGs Looking Closely

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Sirius XM (NSDQ: SIRI) continued its run of subscription increases through Q3, tripling the net adds over the same quarter last year: 334,727 compared with 102,295 in Q309. That helped the satellite radio company hit 1,089,417 for the first nine months — a considerable turnaround from the loss of 488,126 in the same period last year and another sign that consumers are more willing to spend on some paid content with the recession easing.

The final Q3 subscriber tally announced by Sirius XM this morning was a record 19,862,175 and the company is on track to break 20 million this year. But Sirius XM is also under investigation in several states for a variety of reasons, including its subscription practices.

In an SEC filing, the company said it is being investigated by a multi-state “working group” led by Ohio AG Richard Cordray; the group includes Arizona, Connecticut, Tennessee, Vermont and the District of Columbia. According to the filing, the investigation covers “our practices relating to the cancellation of subscriptions; automatic renewal of subscriptions; charging, billing, collecting, and refunding or crediting of payments from consumers; and soliciting customers.” Sirius XM is also being investigated by the state of Florida and was sued last month over telemarketing by Missouri AG Chris Koster.

Subscription details: A couple of reasons for the increase: the churn rate has improved slightly and the conversion rate from free trials with new cars to paid customers also went up, to 48.1 percent from 46.2 percent year over year. What this all means financially is a little tough to see right now; the full results aren’t due until next month.

Despite the merger, Sirius XM continues to operate two distinct services with a variety of subscription offerings. XM added fewer but it also lost fewer in the first three quarters of 2009: 469,165 net adds so far in 2010 compared to a net loss of 145,855 subs. Sirius has brought in the bulk of the net adds for 2010: 620,252 compared with a loss of 342,271 in the same period last year. XM continues to lead with 10,218,265, up more than 513,000 from Q309, while Sirius ended Q3 with 9,643,910, up more than 833,000 from Q309.