Last night was cool. Not in a “Oh look, that dog looks like her owner” cool, but “OMG! teenage-girl-squeal” cool. I was on the Howard Stern Superfan Roundtable Show on Sirius satellite radio. I have been a dedicated fan of the King Of All Media pretty much since I arrived in this fair country. I admit that, especially a few years ago, he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But in my experience people who don’t like him have never actually listened to him. His consistently smart, funny and dry read on life in general and pop culture in particular has me horribly addicted.
In any event I was escorted into the Stern Mega Plex and found myself in a room with three other fans who were complete strangers, a computer screen of callers and an hour of national satellite radio to fill. It was amazing. The show flowed well and we got great calls (most of whom loved what we were improvising). The time just flew by. We had way too much fun. For those of you not in the Howard cult I can best liken it to four diehard sports fans getting together over microphones to chew the fat over the most recent games of their beloved team. We speak the same language, get the same dumb references and finish each other’s sentences. It was a bit weird on occasion.
Here’s the media angle. I firmly believe that apart from the Stern component, Sirius is a busted flush. Several years ago, before Howard announced he was leaving terrestrial radio and the FCC for Sirius, I was convinced that he was going to jump to satellite. I told my “stock guy” Howard is going to satellite and I wanted in. My guy thought that Sirius needed him more so I bet on Sirius. I rode that stock from a buck to $11 and bailed just in time. Sirius is now languishing around $2. The company’s problem: (as always) the Internet.
Sirius started as a technology play long before 4G and immersive Wifi. Back then (in the late 90s) the idea of launching an expensive satellite to beam music to drivers was cool. Now it’s absurd and getting more absurd every day. The irony is that although I have Sirius in two cars (to hear Howard when I drive) I mostly listen to Sirius on my iPhone or through the horrible Sirius desk streaming utility. The world of (nearly) commercial free streaming of music has gone way beyond Sirius. My personal preference is for Pandora, but there are many others. Pandora now includes comedy that makes Sirius entirely redundant apart from Howard. Sirius does have various sports content franchises and some avid sports fans will subscribe for that. However, in my mind, Sirius is the house that Howard built and when he’s gone they will be, too.
For the mathematically inclined here’s a back-of-envelope value analysis. I pay about $40 a month for Sirius pretty much exclusively for Howard. With his new and reduced schedule that amounts to about 48 hours of content. I pay about $100 for about 300 cable channels (including several premium packages), which in theory amounts to about 200,000 hours of programming options and another $40 for Internet and $8 for Netflix. In reality, I probably consume about 90 hours of TV, 30 hours of Internet and 4 hours of Netflix per month. That’s roughly a buck per content hour. In comparison I pay $40 for 12 hours of Howard or $3.30 per hour. Put another way, 21% of my content spend goes to just 12% of content consumed. One goofy, out spoken guy and his team drives twice the relative value of the rest of all media consumed.
If you ever wondered why Howard Stern is the King of all media, it’s the math.