When it signed Howard Stern last year, Sirius radio picked up a lot of subscribers, but the satellite radio provider still couldn't catch rival XM which sits atop of the subscriber satellite radio heap. Sirius' new six million subscribers represented a huge jump, but XM is closing out 2006 with 7.9 million. The New York Times is now reporting that Sirius might follow the old adage: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Sirius has apparently supported the idea of a merger for a while, but XM has refused to comment thus far. Because there is a lot of overlap in their offerings and because they have similar organizations, merging would lower costs and help boost the stock price, presumably. And that's where these decisions tend to be made, in the accountants' ledgers.

More info after the jump.

[Source: New York Times via Kicking Tires]

If the two join, the roster of celebrities available to customers would include Stern, Martha Stewart, Deepak Chopra, and Richard Simmons from the Sirius camp, while XM would add Bob Dylan, Ellen Degeneres, and Oprah Winfrey, among others. Subscribers would also get to hear every Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL, and NHL game, NASCAR races, as well as PGA golf tournaments.

The growth of satellite has been pretty strong but hasn't exactly matched the hype. Not a lot of subscribers actually go out and purchase a satellite receiver, instead they are usually people who got a system when they bought a new car and have extended their trial memberships. Not having to choose one over the other might make aftermarket sales of satellite radio-ready consumer devices go up. At least that's the hope.

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