Stern Leave Satellite for Internet Radio? Over Sirius CEO’s Dead Body.

Published on February 3, 2010
by John Paczkowski

With Howard Stern’s five-year Sirius XM satellite radio deal set to expire in January 2011, there’s been a fair bit of speculation about where he’ll work next–most of it fueled by Stern himself, who recently claimed he has been approached by terrestrial radio execs about returning to his original turf. Given Stern’s obvious affinity for the permissiveness of satellite, it seems unlikely that he’d ever give it up to return to “regular” radio, but would he decamp for Internet radio?

At a roundtable event this morning at The Paley Center for Media, Sirius (SIRI) CEO Mel Karmazin was asked that very question. Does he worry about Stern leaving for an outfit–like Pandora–looking to avail itself of the same “Stern Effect” that spiked Sirius’s subscriber rolls?

Karmazin acknowledged that while it’s a possibility, he’s dubious. “I think it’s great to be content today,” he said. “In this world of fragmentation, great content prevails. Howard Stern is great content. Howard would be sought after by anyone. He’s a great talent. Having said that, we would like him to stay with us and we are optimistic that he will continue to do so.”

It’s worth noting that Karmazin, while he does view Internet radio as a competitor, doesn’t seem too worried by it. “There are a lot of choices for audio content,” he remarked. “And obviously, the Internet is one of them. But the question is who’s going to the the largest player? And I think that’s our spot to lose. I believe we will be the most profitable of audio content choices.”

Further Notes From the Event

On Amazon’s Kindle:
I am addicted to my Kindle. I saw Jeff Bezos in Sun Valley recently [and] I told him I have personally bought a dozen to give as gifts.

On Comcast/NBC Universal:
I dont’ see anything anticompetitive about what Comcast is doing–the review should take a few weeks. Either you accept the fact that there’s a lot of competition out there, or you don’t….But I do think this thing is going to drag out like it did for us. So far there are only two congressional hearings on Comcast/NBC. We had four–there were fewer for the Exxon Valdez.

On In-Car Internet and the Apple iPod:
I think the Internet will absolutely be in the car and we think it will be a good competitor. You know we’ve been competing with iPods for a long time. And we look at how sat radio performs in the vehicles where people have the ability to put an iPod jack in and we don’t see much of a difference. We believe them to be complementary.

Return to: Stern Leave Satellite for Internet Radio? Over Sirius CEO’s Dead Body.