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Shocker! Howard Stern’s New Show Airs for Free!

6 February 2006

HOWARD STERN took his talk show to Sirius Satellite Radio, where last month he made his much ballyhooed debut in a non-censored pay-to-listen environment.

The half-a-billion dollar deal has received an enormous amount of attention for many months and has been examined from every conceivable angle with the chief question being whether Sirius will recoup its massive investment?

The jury is still out on that but one thing we learned this past week was that Stern’s new show was available for free online and by pirate radio stations.

Perhaps someone can find a reference to this matter being raised, but in the day to day media coverage of the deal I have seen zero mention of the possibility that online file-sharing networks (more plausible) or pirates—Ahoy!—(less plausible) could distribute Stern’s show for free. (To be clear, I am not offering an opinion on whether or not the free shows will ultimately help or hurt Stern gain paying subscribers.)

Considering that we hear so much about unauthorized music downloads it’s remarkable that this wasn’t anticipated as a possibility—especially by media pundits and Wall Street analysts.

A Los Angeles Times article did, however, state that: Sirius warned investors about the threat of piracy in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But because corporate disclosures in SEC filings are often filled with ass-covering scenarios that are highly unlikely to occur it’s hard to determine to what extent Sirius thought piracy was a threat. But if they saw it is a possibility, why didn’t anybody else?