Howard Stern signs a new five-year deal with SiriusXM
Radio personality Howard Stern has a new deal with SiriusXM that could turn him into a streaming video star.
Stern, 61, had teased his audience in recent days about the possibility of moving on at the end of his current contract. But he announced on his Tuesday program that he signed on with the satellite radio outfit for five more years.
“It’s been nothing but a pleasant experience,” he said. “I like to think that we were responsible in some way for building this thing.”
Stern has played pivotal role in the growth of SiriusXM over the last decade. The satellite radio service has 29 million subscribers who receive Stern and dozens of other music, talk, news, sports and comedy channels, many of them commercial-free. The company does not release ratings data, but a 2014 survey estimated that Stern attracts 3.5 million listeners on the service.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but analysts have put Stern’s annual radio pay at $80 million to $90 million. He first signed with Sirius in 2004, before it merged with rival service XM Radio in 2008.
Stern’s new contract includes plans to develop an app that will deliver streaming video of his program on Internet-connected devices. Once launched, the app could demonstrate SiriusXM’s potential to be a subscriber-based provider of video along the lines of Netflix and Amazon.
Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer for SiriusXM, told The Times that his company plans to get an app with Stern’s content up and running before pursuing a larger video initiative. But he acknowledged that conversations along those lines have taken place.
“We’re going to put our energy into getting the video right for Howard,” Greenstein said. “We have a lot of interesting personalities and brands already under the umbrella that would be well suited for video, and others frankly that already have reached out and [would] be excited to look into this.”
SiriusXM also agreed to a 12-year deal for use of Stern’s extensive audio and video library drawn from performances, specials and shows spanning his entire career.
Although Greenstein did not speak of any specific competitive offers, he said Stern probably had opportunities from streaming music services that could have used him as an entry point to expand their offerings into talk and entertainment programming.
Greenstein had the same belief when Sirius first pursued Stern a couple of years after its launch.
“I know how I felt when 11 years ago I looked at the audio landscape and asked ‘What would make a difference?’” he said. “It was pretty obvious it was Howard Stern.”
Stern emerged as a radio star in the 1980s when he was a “shock jock” who challenged the conventions and the boundaries of broadcast standards. His move to satellite radio freed him from skirmishes with management — and the fear of Federal Communications Commission fines caused by the racy content his programs contained — and helped build SiriusXM into a profitable venture that was able to absorb its sole competitor in the satellite radio field.
In the third quarter, the company showed a net income of $167 million on revenue of $1.17 billion.
In recent years, Stern has continued to provide his loyal following with ribald humor. But he has also distinguished himself through in-depth interviews with celebrities who often share details about their lives that they would be less likely to reveal on other media outlets. His longevity and increasingly mainstream appeal led to several seasons on the judging panel of the family-oriented NBC summer reality show “America’s Got Talent.”
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