Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2020
Accounting Policies [Abstract]  
Summary of Significant Accounting Policies Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
In addition to the significant accounting policies discussed in this Note 2, the following table includes our significant accounting policies that are described in other notes to our consolidated financial statements, including the number and page of the note:
Significant Accounting Policy Note # Page #
Fair Value Measurements
Intangible Assets 10 
Property and Equipment 11 
Equity Method Investments 13 
Share-Based Compensation 16 
Legal Reserves 17 
Income Taxes 18 
Cash and Cash Equivalents
Our cash and cash equivalents consist of cash on hand, money market funds, certificates of deposit, in-transit credit card receipts and highly liquid investments purchased with an original maturity of three months or less.
Revenue Recognition
Revenue is measured according to Accounting Standards Codification (“ASC”) 606, Revenue - Revenue from Contracts with Customers, and is recognized based on consideration specified in a contract with a customer, and excludes any sales incentives and amounts collected on behalf of third parties. We recognize revenue when we satisfy a performance obligation by transferring control over a service or product to a customer. We report revenues net of any tax assessed by a governmental authority that is both imposed on, and concurrent with, a specific revenue-producing transaction between a seller and a customer in our consolidated statements of comprehensive income. Collected taxes are recorded within Other current liabilities until remitted to the relevant taxing authority. For equipment sales, we are responsible for arranging for shipping and handling. Shipping and handling costs billed to customers are recorded as revenue and are reported as a component of Cost of equipment.
The following is a description of the principal activities from which we generate our revenue, including from self-pay and paid promotional subscribers, advertising, and sales of equipment.
Subscriber revenue consists primarily of subscription fees and other ancillary subscription based revenues. Revenue is recognized on a straight line basis when the performance obligations to provide each service for the period are satisfied, which is over time as our subscription services are continuously transmitted and can be consumed by customers at any time. Consumers purchasing or leasing a vehicle with a factory-installed satellite radio may receive between a three and twelve month subscription to our service.  In certain cases, the subscription fees for these consumers are prepaid by the applicable automaker. Prepaid subscription fees received from automakers or directly from consumers are recorded as deferred revenue and amortized to revenue ratably over the service period which commences upon sale. Activation fees are recognized over one month as the activation fees are non-refundable and do not provide for a material right to the customer. There is no revenue recognized for unpaid trial subscriptions. In some cases we pay a loyalty fee to the automakers when we receive a certain amount of payments from self-pay customers acquired from that automaker. These fees are considered incremental costs to obtain a contract and are, therefore, recognized as an asset and amortized to Subscriber acquisition costs over an average subscriber life. Revenue share and loyalty fees paid to an automaker offering a paid trial are accounted for as a reduction of revenue as the payment does not provide a distinct good or service.
Music royalty fee primarily consists of U.S. music royalty fees (“MRF”) collected from subscribers. The related costs we incur for the right to broadcast music and other programming are recorded as Revenue share and royalties expense.  Fees received from subscribers for the MRF are recorded as deferred revenue and amortized to Subscriber revenue ratably over the service period.
We recognize revenue from the sale of advertising as performance obligations are satisfied, which generally occurs as ads are delivered. For our satellite radio service, ads are delivered when they are aired. For our streaming services, ads are delivered primarily based on impressions. Agency fees are calculated based on a stated percentage applied to gross billing revenue for our advertising inventory and are reported as a reduction of advertising revenue.  Additionally, we pay certain third parties a percentage of advertising revenue.  Advertising revenue is recorded gross of such revenue share payments as we control the advertising service, including the ability to establish pricing, and we are primarily responsible for providing the service.  Advertising revenue share payments are recorded to Revenue share and royalties during the period in which the advertising is transmitted.
Equipment revenue and royalties from the sale of satellite radios, components and accessories are recognized upon shipment, net of discounts and rebates. Shipping and handling costs billed to customers are recorded as revenue.  Shipping and handling costs associated with shipping goods to customers are reported as a component of Cost of equipment. Other revenue primarily includes revenue recognized from royalties received from Sirius XM Canada.
Customers pay for the services in advance of the performance obligation and therefore these prepayments are recorded as deferred revenue. The deferred revenue is recognized as revenue in our consolidated statement of comprehensive income as the services are provided. Changes in the deferred revenue balance during the year ended December 31, 2020 were not materially impacted by other factors.
As the majority of our contracts are one year or less, we have utilized the optional exemption under ASC 606-10-50-14 and do not disclose information about the remaining performance obligations for contracts which have original expected durations of one year or less. As of December 31, 2020, less than ten percent of our total deferred revenue balance related to contracts that extend beyond one year. These contracts primarily include prepaid data trials which are typically provided for three to five years as well as for self-pay customers who prepay for their audio subscriptions for up to three years in advance. These amounts are recognized on a straight-line basis as our services are provided.
Revenue Share
We share a portion of our subscription revenues earned from self-pay subscribers with certain automakers.  The terms of the revenue share agreements vary with each automaker, but are typically based upon the earned audio revenue as reported or gross billed audio revenue. Revenue share on self-pay revenue is recognized as an expense and recorded in Revenue share and royalties in our consolidated statements of comprehensive income. We also pay revenue share to certain talent on non-music stations on our satellite radio service and to podcast talent based on advertising revenue for the related channel or podcast. Revenue share on non-music channels and podcasts is recognized in Revenue share and royalties in our consolidated statements of comprehensive income when it is earned. In some cases we prepay minimum guarantees for revenue share to podcast talent which is recorded in Prepaid and other current assets in our consolidated statements of financial position. The minimum guarantee is recognized in Revenue share and royalties primarily on a straight line basis over the contractual term. The prepaid balance is regularly reviewed for recoverability and any amount not deemed to be recoverable is recognized as an expense in the period.
In connection with our businesses, we must enter into royalty arrangements with two sets of rights holders: holders of musical compositions copyrights (that is, the music and lyrics) and holders of sound recordings copyrights (that is, the actual recording of a work). Our Sirius XM and Pandora businesses use both statutory and direct music licenses as part of their businesses. We license varying rights - such as performance and mechanical rights - for use in our Sirius XM and Pandora businesses based on the various radio and interactive services they offer. The music rights licensing arrangements for our Sirius XM and Pandora businesses are complex.
Musical Composition Copyrights
We pay performance royalties for our Sirius XM and Pandora businesses to holders and rights administrators of musical compositions copyrights, including performing rights organizations and other copyright owners. These performance royalties are based on agreements with performing rights organizations which represent the holders of these performance rights. Our Sirius XM and Pandora businesses have arrangements with these performance rights organizations. Arrangements with Sirius XM generally include fixed payments during the term of the agreement and arrangements with Pandora for its ad-supported radio service have variable payments based on usage and ownership of a royalty pool. Pandora must also license reproduction rights, which are also referred to as mechanical rights, to offer the interactive features of the Pandora services. For our Pandora subscription services, copyright holders receive payments for these rights at the rates determined in accordance with the statutory license set forth in Section 115 of the United States Copyright Act. These mechanical royalties are calculated as the greater of a percentage of our revenue or a percentage of our payments to record labels.
For our interactive music services offered by our Pandora business, we pay mechanical royalties to copyright holders at the rates determined by the Copyright Royalty Board (the “CRB”) in accordance with the statutory license set forth in Section 115 of the United States Copyright Act.
Sound Recording Copyrights
For our non-interactive satellite radio or streaming services we may license sound recordings under direct licenses with the owners of sound recordings or based on the royalty rate established by the CRB. For our Sirius XM business, the royalty rate for sound recordings has been set by the CRB. The revenue subject to royalty includes subscription revenue from our U.S. satellite digital audio radio subscribers, and advertising revenue from channels other than those channels that make only incidental performances of sound recordings. The rates and terms permit us to reduce the payment due each month for those sound recording directly licensed from copyright owners and exclude from our revenue certain other items, such as royalties
paid to us for intellectual property, sales and use taxes, bad debt expense and generally revenue attributable to areas of our business that do not involve the use of copyrighted sound recordings.
For our Pandora business, we have entered into direct license agreements with major and independent music labels and distributors for a significant majority of the sound recordings that stream on the Pandora ad-supported service, Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium. For sound recordings that we stream and for which we have not entered into a direct license agreement with the sound recording rights holders, the sound recordings are streamed pursuant to the statutory royalty rates set by the CRB. Pandora pays royalties to owners of sound recordings on either a per-performance fee based on the number of sound recordings transmitted or a percentage of revenue associated with the applicable service. Certain of these agreements also require Pandora to pay a per subscriber minimum amount.
Programming Costs
Programming costs which are for a specified number of events are amortized on an event-by-event basis; programming costs which are for a specified season or include programming through a dedicated channel are amortized over the season or period on a straight-line basis. We allocate a portion of certain programming costs which are related to sponsorship and marketing activities to Sales and marketing expense on a straight-line basis over the term of the agreement.
Advertising Costs
Media is expensed when aired and advertising production costs are expensed as incurred.  Advertising production costs include expenses related to marketing and retention activities, including expenses related to direct mail, outbound telemarketing and email communications.  We also incur advertising production costs related to cooperative marketing and promotional events and sponsorships.  During the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, we recorded advertising costs of $443, $392 and $267, respectively.  These costs are reflected in Sales and marketing expense in our consolidated statements of comprehensive income.
Subscriber Acquisition Costs
Subscriber acquisition costs consist of costs incurred to acquire new subscribers which include hardware subsidies paid to radio manufacturers, distributors and automakers, including subsidies paid to automakers who include a satellite radio and a prepaid subscription to our service in the sale or lease price of a new vehicle; subsidies paid for chipsets and certain other components used in manufacturing radios; device royalties for certain radios and chipsets; commissions paid to retailers and automakers as incentives to purchase, install and activate radios; product warranty obligations; freight; and provisions for inventory allowance attributable to inventory consumed in our automotive and retail distribution channels.  Subscriber acquisition costs do not include advertising costs, loyalty payments to distributors and dealers of radios and revenue share payments to automakers and retailers of radios.
Subsidies paid to radio manufacturers and automakers are expensed upon installation, shipment, receipt of product or activation and are included in Subscriber acquisition costs because we are responsible for providing the service to the customers.  Commissions paid to retailers and automakers are expensed upon either the sale or activation of radios.  Chipsets that are shipped to radio manufacturers and held on consignment are recorded as inventory and expensed as Subscriber acquisition costs when placed into production by radio manufacturers.  Costs for chipsets are expensed as Subscriber acquisition costs when the automaker confirms receipt.
Research & Development Costs
Research and development costs are expensed as incurred and primarily include the cost of new product development, chipset design, software development and engineering.  During the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, we recorded research and development costs of $220, $231 and $106, respectively.  These costs are reported as a component of Engineering, design and development expense in our consolidated statements of comprehensive income.
Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (Loss), net of tax
Accumulated other comprehensive income of $15 was primarily comprised of the cumulative foreign currency translation adjustments related to Sirius XM Canada (refer to Note 13 for additional information). During the year ended December 31, 2020, we recorded a foreign currency translation adjustment gain of $7, which is recorded net of tax expense of $2. During the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, we recorded foreign currency translation adjustment gain (loss) of $14 and $(29), respectively, net of tax.
Recently Adopted Accounting Policies
ASU 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842). In February 2016, FASB issued ASU 2016-02 which requires companies to recognize lease assets and liabilities arising from operating leases in the statement of financial position. This ASU does not significantly change the previous lease guidance for how a lessee should recognize, measure, and present expenses and cash flows arising from a lease. Additionally, the criteria for classifying a finance lease versus an operating lease are substantially the same as the previous guidance. This ASU was effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018, including interim periods within those fiscal years, and early adoption was permitted. In July 2018, the FASB issued ASU 2018-11, Leases (Topic 842) Targeted Improvements, amending certain aspects of the new leasing standard. The amendment allows an additional optional transition method whereby an entity records a cumulative effect adjustment to opening retained earnings in the year of adoption without restating prior periods. We adopted this ASU on January 1, 2019 and elected the additional transition method per ASU 2018-11. Our leases consist of repeater leases, facility leases and equipment leases. We elected the package of practical expedients permitted under the transition guidance within the new standard.
Adoption of the new standard resulted in the recording of additional lease assets and lease liabilities of approximately $347 and $369, respectively, as of January 1, 2019. The standard did not impact our consolidated statements of comprehensive income, consolidated statements of cash flows or debt. Additionally, we did not record a cumulative effect adjustment to opening retained earnings.
The effect of the changes made to our consolidated balance sheet as of January 1, 2019 for the adoption of ASU 2016-02 is included in the table below.
Balance at December 31, 2018 Adjustments Due to ASU 2016-02 Balance at January 1, 2019
Balance Sheet
Operating lease right-of-use assets $ —  $ 347  $ 347 
Accounts payable and accrued expenses $ 736  $ (1) $ 735 
Operating lease current liabilities —  30  30 
Operating lease liabilities —  339  339 
Other long-term liabilities 102  (21) 81