Apple vs. Microsoft in bidding war for Howard Stern?

invisibleSHIELD case for iPadHoward Stern’s five-year, $500 million contract with Sirius XM ends this December.

“Outside of retirement or re-signing with Sirius, there really aren’t a lot of options for Howard Stern,” Rick Aristotle Munarriz writes for The Motley Fool. “He can’t go back to terrestrial radio. Satellite radio has grown in stature over the past five years, while conventional radio has either been stagnant or regressed. There may be some shining stars in the industry, but they are small players. The giants that would be logical suitors — companies including Clear Channel and CBS — are unlikely to compete financially with Sirius XM. They also wouldn’t be able to offer Stern the regulatory freedom he sought in taking a chance with Sirius five years ago.”

“We live in a wired world, so Stern can always attempt to strike out on his own. If Stern can sway a million listeners to pay $10 a month for a rich, Web-served experience, he will top his current contract,” Munarriz writes. “The problem, of course, is that Stern risks plenty. He gambled on satellite radio in its infancy and won, but Internet radio as a premium service is virgin soil.”

“He can partner with a Web darling that will give him greater programming flexibility than even Sirius XM. Amazon.com’s Audible may be an interesting fit, but the only logical outlet would be Apple,” Munarriz writes. “Yes, Apple.”

“The iEmpire is shutting down the Lala streaming service it acquired just five months ago. Why would Apple buy a company to squash it? The best bet is that Apple will be incorporating Lala’s streaming technology into iTunes this summer,” Munarriz writes. “This could actually work for a juggernaut like Stern, and between Apple and Zune daddy Microsoft you have two of the richest companies on the planet.”

“A bidding war between CBS Radio and Sirius XM may very well be bumped by a bidding war between Apple and Microsoft,” Munarriz writes. “Is this likely? No. Is it possible? Absolutely.”

“However, my gut feeling is that Stern returns to Sirius XM on a scaled-back basis. Sirius XM doesn’t want to spend as much as it used to on Stern, and he’s unlikely to want to work as hard as he did when he first arrived,” Munarriz writes. “It’s the one logical ending to this saga; even if analysts, shareholders, and Stern fans won’t let Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin rest until they hear the ultimate answer on Stern’s Sirius show.”

Full article here.

40 Comments

  1. Stern isn’t for everyone. Personally, I’m a big fan and bought a lifetime Sirius membership for that reason alone. BTW – paid for itself in 2-1/2 years, so it’s been “free” since then.

    No way Apple would allow Stern, let alone bid for him. Hell, he’d have it made if they allowed a Stern App for subscribers, selling song parodies and streaming his show.

    Funny, how everyone stereotypes Stern as a dirt bag when he’s actually more loyal and honest than about anyone in Hollywood.

  2. What is Munarriz smoking? Steve Jobs bends over backwards to make the App store a PG experience, and Munarriz thinks that a past-prime, potty-mouthed, puerile sleaze like Howard Stern somehow fits with that carefully crafted brand image?

    Munarriz is either delusional or hit trolling. Don’t bother clicking through to his refuse.

  3. @ dan, Pablo, Ubermac, and iMaki: Obviously none of you have ever listened to Howard Stern’s show. And despite not having any first hand experience listening experience y’all feel qualified to call him “low class”, “low-life”, and a “scumbag”, which just shows us what uneducated, low class, low life scumbags all of you are.

    The best thing Stern could do is renew at Sirius while putting paid podcasts of his show (ala Rush Limbaugh) on iTunes.

  4. It’s reported that Sirius paid Stern $500 million for a 5-year contract.
    And despite the complaints that he was overpaid, he delivered. Sirius subscribers jumped from around 400,000 to over 4 million in the first 6 months of Stern’s move. Now that number is about 18 million.

    Sirius wouldn’t be here today without Stern. He saved Sirius, made the XM deal possible and EARNS his money unlike the other celebrities on the network.

    Martha Stewart and Oprah have large contracts and contribute very little original programming.

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