NEW YORK, N.Y. – Much has changed for Howard Stern and SiriusXM since their first deal a decade ago — except for their desire to stay in business together.
The company announced Tuesday its third five-year deal to keep Stern’s radio show at SiriusXM, together with a longer-term video arrangement that will allow fans to see as well as hear his program and have access to 30 years of career highlights.
Financial terms were not disclosed. Since it includes a 12-year provision giving Sirius control of Stern’s archives, it is likely well north of the $500 million deal made when he moved from terrestrial to satellite radio in 2006, which was then an important step in establishing a fledgling industry.
Once radio’s ultimate shock jock known for salacious material, Stern at 61 has grown mellower and the show’s signature is becoming its in-depth interviews with celebrities like Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Neil Young, Bradley Cooper, Chris Rock and others.
The kind of edgy material in which Stern once specialized is now available widely on the Internet, said Scott Greenstein, Sirius president and chief content officer. His stint as a judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which ended this past summer, also presented a different side of Stern to an audience that may only have known his reputation.
“Stern has had to evolve more into what he always was — an amazingly authentic performer, intelligent and authentic,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers, a radio trade publication.
Sirius, meanwhile, is the house that Stern built. A money-losing venture with 600,000 subscribers when he signed, it merged with competitor XM in 2008 and now has 29 million subscribers and annual revenue of $4.5 billion, with more than $1 billion in profits. Seven in 10 new cars sold are equipped with its service.
Tuesday’s deal eliminates the last short-term worry for investors about the company, said Matthew Harrigan, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities, Inc. Shares of SiriusXM Holdings Inc. rose 12 cents, or 3 per cent, to $4.12 in morning trading. They are up almost 18 per cent so far this year.
Stern had his own unique take on the company’s prospects.
“If you are not listening to SiriusXM and ‘The Howard Stern Show,’ then you are really more like a zombie, a rotting corpse monster, living half a life, deadened and blackened inside,” he said. “It’s as if you were still watching black and white television while shopping in actual stores on your way to the post office to fax a memo.”
On his show Tuesday, Stern described the deal as a move into the future. “You’ll be able to get everything you want in audio and video — and then some,” he said, as the music to “Star Trek” played in the background.
Stern works on his own channel Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., although some weeks he works three days. He has two satellite channels on Sirius.
Specific plans for how use of the archival material will be announced later. While Stern mentioned streaming of his morning show, Meyer said there have been no discussions yet about simulcasting it on television.
The video part of the deal represents an intriguing new direction for Sirius, Harrigan said. The network now occasionally posts YouTube videos when performers appear at Sirius, but has not been in the video content business.
“We believe in Howard and, more importantly, our listeners really believe in Howard,” said Jim Meyer, SiriusXM CEO. “We wanted some continuity for the day when he decides he wants to retire. It was very important for us.”
That doesn’t necessarily signal that Stern will be giving up his radio show when the next five-year term ends, the Sirius executives said.
AP Business Writer Charles N. Sheehan contributed to this report.