Satellite radio provider signs three-year deal

NEW YORK -- Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. signed a deal to air the men's NCAA basketball tournament through 2007, the latest move made in an attempt to draw customers through sports programming.

Sirius will broadcast every game of the tournament for the next three years, the network said Monday. Terms were not disclosed.

Sirius and its competitor, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., recently started signing personalities and sports leagues in an effort to attract new subscribers.

Last month, XM announced a $650 million, 11-year deal to air major-league baseball games live.

The baseball announcement followed a five-year, $500 million deal Sirius signed with shock jock Howard Stern, who will debut in January 2006. Sirius said it would need to attract 1 million subscribers to cover the cost of that contract.

Sirius also has an all-NFL channel and a deal with College Sports Television which enables Sirius to air the games of 23 major-college teams -- including Southern California, Notre Dame and LSU.

Sirius said last week that it passed the 800,000 subscriber mark, and the company said it remains on track to reach 1 million subscribers through December. It charges $12.95 a month for 120 commercial-free channels.

XM has 2.5 million subscribers who pay $9.95 a month for 130 channels of music and talk radio via satellite receivers. The company said it would need to sign up about 700,000 new subscribers over the course of the baseball deal to generate enough cash to
cover its cost.

Westwood One currently holds the national commercial radio rights to the NCAA Tournament.

Also Monday, Sirius announced it will broadcast approximately
225 English Premier League soccer games through May 2005.