Did Sirius Siriusly Overpay for Howard Stern?


Ok, so I love Howard Stern. He’s explosive and flippant and irreverent and exploitive and sarcastic and ironic and post-modern and this is not a parody. Get it? Got it? Good. But I didn’t love him enough to follow him from traditional radio to XM Sattelite. My reasoning is pretty simple. I take BART to commute and I’m only in my car about 10 minutes a day each way and it’s not worth paying for his content for 10 minutes in the morning.

Now if as part of Howard’s new offering he made day old podcasts of his show freely downloadable to subscribers I’d subscribe in a heartbeat. I could then download his shows, put them on my cell phone and listen to them there. Especially if they had show notes where I could skip to parts of the show I was interested in (interviews, musical guests, etc.) I would bite. Earlier last month I blogged about this as well.

In addition to myself, you have to ask yourself how many others have not followed Howard over. Satellite Radio is hot, no doubt. But you have to ask yourself if Sirius’ $670 million gambit with Stern will pay off for them in the end. Although there was a lot of initial interest when Howard made his move and a lot of early sign ups, it would appear, at least from Sirius’ Alexa traffic, that their internet traffic has been dropping off the past few months. In fact, the most recent traffic data shows them back neck and neck with XM Satellite who while also growing certainly does not have to pay Howard Stern $670 or so million.

Throw in the trouble that CBS’ lawsuit is sure to bring and you wonder if Sirius really got a good deal for their money. Of course the fact that Sirius’ stock is off 25% in the past two months might also be saying something about the deal that they got in hindsight.

Hey, still though, if Stern will give me my podcasts I’d be happy to sign up.

Here’s some more analysis on the Howard Stern motivation factor for Sirius.

Thanks, illegal op!

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  1. As I mentioned before don’t underestimate the value of Stern NOT going over to XM. When the deal was announced XM had a sizable lead in satellite radio market share (they still do in-fact) and while Stren has undoubtely help erode the lead if they had let him go to XM it would have been a devastating blow to Sirius, perhaps putting in a position it could not hope to recover from.

    Also, not sure how web site traffic is an accurage guage of subscribership or even popularity. I would imaging that most people who are considering Satellite radio check out both XM and Sirius before they make their final decision, unless they are signing up just for Stern or another specific personality/program. I would be surprised if the web site statistics weren’t similar when trended over a long period of time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “…at least from Sirius’ Alexa traffic, that their internet traffic has been dropping off the past few months.”

    Please explain how this chart about internet traffic means anything. Put up a chart about subscribers and then we can talk.

  3. Scott says:

    “But I didn’t love him enough to follow him from traditional radio to XM …” < -- Sirius :) I agree that they should offer a podcast of the previous day’s show. It’s no secret that you can get mp3’s of the show shortly after it’s over via most file-sharing networks. Offering an “authorized” podcast from Sirius’ site would I’m sure make people feel safer about downloading it. Howard has mentioned that they are planning on streaming the show for subscribers, but that the hardware and bandwith requirements are holding them back. I don’t know if I believe that reason or not, I think maybe they need to find a way to secure it from pirates (Argh!). I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the show is re-broadcast at 9 PM (EST) every day. Regarding the traffic, Howard’s site is still http://www.howardstern.com. His section of Sirius doesn’t provide anything more substantial than show times and some bios. I think only those who are new to Howard would go to Sirius more than one time for information. For pics and show recaps, you can go to either howardstern.com or Mark’s Friggin. Sirius may be in trouble, but I don’t know if web traffic is a way to measure it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Your traffic analysis is just false. The reason their traffic has leveled off the past few months is becuase it’s Q1, and when you compare that to Q4 (read holiday buying season) there is no way they are going to do better. Q4 is when people are buying satelite radios for presents, and it obviously drops off in Q1.

  5. Thomas Hawk says:

    Anonymous, but the graph isn’t as much about the absolute drop in traffic but a relative one between XM and Sirius.