Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Maybe Joe Gandelman is a big Howard Stern fan, referring to him as "one of radio's true revolutionaries" and deeming his debut on Sirius Satellite Radip as "triumphant"...

To back this up, Joe cites statistics that reported Sirius picked up 180,000 new accounts at Christmas, boosting their total to some 3 million listeners. And supposedly Sirius' telephone center was overwhelmed by callers trying to sign up the day before Stern went on the air.

Well, XM Radio, Sirius's competition, has some 6 million subscribers... all without Howard Stern. You'd expect a lot of anything to be sold right before Christmas... there were more than 180,000 hi-definition TVs sold right before Christmas... as were probably 180,000 toasters.

And, sure, telephone call centers get overwhelmed when they don't have enough people to handle the calls... but a mere 20 phone calls an hour can overwhelm a staff only capable of handling 15 per hour... and without knowing how many calls Sirius could handle, we have no way of knowing what was going on.

In any event, you'd expect a surge in sign-up volume right before Stern went on the air... people who got their radios at Christmas needed to activate their services.... and now that they have done so and, presumably, all of his fans who are going to have gone ahead and bought and activated their service, where is the continued growth going to come from?

But let's look at Stern's deal with just the numbers: Stern is getting roughly $100 million a year (and not counting the extra he received from Sirius's stock price having gone up). At $156 per subscriber, Sirius needs 600,000 new subscribers who are signing up JUST FOR STERN in order to cover their nut. And I mean nut. Did all of Sirius's growth come from just Stern? I am sure the executives who signed the Stern contract would like to think so, but, as I mentioned above, XM radio grew quite a bit and without having Stern.

In any event, I am glad he's off the public airwaves... this way, I no longer have to worry about stumbling across him when I'm scanning channels. I thought he was a no-talent hack when he was here in DC... good for nothing except being crude on the air. Unfortunately, there's an audience for that...