Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sirius In, Starz Out, For Liberty Media

John Malone's Liberty Media has a knack for collecting assets, from DirecTv to Discovery, he has accumulated and diversified his portfolio.  In today's news, he seems to want to both acquire and sell; he is accumulating more and more shares of SiriusXM in a move to gain ownership control, while at the same time, laying out notice that it may be time to sell his Starz asset.

"Starz, with 20.7 million subscribers, would offer a media company that operates other premium cable channels synergies that don’t exist for Liberty Media, (Chief Executive Officer Greg) Maffei said yesterday at a Bank of America-sponsored investor conference in Beverly Hills, California." So basic, ad-supported TV like the Discovery Channels work while premium supported, subscription based video services like Starz don't.  I'm just not so sure I can accept this statement as the whole truth, especially since SiriusXM represents another subscription-based service in the audio media space.  Does the rise in cable costs, consumer dropping of premium movie channels, and the trend toward online services have a bearing on the strategy behind this proposed move?  Is there more stickiness driving Sirius subscriptions through the automotive industry have more growth than premium cable? Should a potential buyer of Starz wonder what the long term value of this property should be?

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