Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sirius Chief Sweet-Talks Stern

Sirius is having a good year so fay. It' stock is over a buck and the car industry is slowly improving. So what is left. Staying relevant in an ever-changing technological environment and proving the old adage that content is king. One way to prove it is Howard Stern. His contract is up and he is the essence of exclusive content that separates Sirius from its rivals. "Stern's shock-jock humor is one of the biggest draws for the satellite radio shop and a key to improving its slumping subscriber numbers and advertising revenue." But does his price justify the rewards? Is Stern relevant today?

Howard has been out of the limelight since he left terrestrial radio for satellite. He is hard pressed to call himself the King of all Media anymore. But his fan base, if small, is loyal. And Howard does work hard to stay newsworthy. He is even in the press positioning himself as Simon Cowell's replacement on American Idol. Howard knows how to stay in the news.

"Sirius needs Stern. The pay radio shop lost more than 300,000 subscribers last year, leaving the company with a total of 18.7 million paying customers at year's end. Stern's is a program that people will pay for, it's also one of the few programs where Sirius sells ads....A new deal between Sirius and Stern may include provisions that would play to Stern's potentially broader appeal. Analysts and media veterans have suggested possibilities like a scaled-down Sirius schedule, a syndication of tamer programs for conventional radio or allowances that let Stern pursue TV shows."

A new contract that gets Howard more national exposure through TV and radio could also make the need to get Howard on Sirius less necessary, too. It is a fine line in how much exposure across media platforms so as to not hurt Sirius' bread and butter platform. To that end, a merger of Sirius with a bigger content company like Liberty Media makes even more sense. A Howard show on Starz, a TV subscription service and Liberty company, helps two pay platforms.

So for now Sirius should re-sign Howard and seek partnerships that serve mutual goals.

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