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As both of the nation's satellite radio companies continue to grow, they are relying more than ever on their respective automobile manufacturer partners to obtain new customers.

The OEM - original equipment manufacturer - channel has become a critical subscriber outlet for XM and Sirius. And should the companies merge operations, something the Federal Communications Commission is considering, that OEM channel could be a key asset for a combined satellite radio entity.

Check out the numbers:

Sirius said OEM subscribers increased 87 percent in 2007 to 3.665 million, up from 1.959 million at the end of 2006. That's an increase of more than 1.7 million from the OEM channel last year, stated Sirius' figures.

For comparison, Sirius said retail subscribers increased by 15 percent in 2007 to 4.64 million, up from a little more than 4 million at the end of 2006.

In total, Sirius ended 2007 with 8.3 million subscribers, up from 38 percent from the 6 million enrolled for the service at the end of 2006.

At XM, the satellite radio company added nearly 1.4 million net new subscribers in 2007, ending the year with more than 9 million customers. XM's subscriber gains from the OEM channel made up a majority of those net adds, with automotive partners contributing 1.2 million net customer additions in 2007, up from the 884,000 netted from the automotive sector in 2006.

XM said its automotive partners increased production of XM-equipped vehicles by 64 percent last year, when compared to 2006 figures. Last year, the company's automotive partners produced 3.5 million XM-equipped vehicles.
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