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The Make-or-Break Decision for Streaming Investors

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Eric Bleeker: Let's talk about streaming media right now.

It is an interesting play, because I think you've got some contrasting factors on it. We've always talked about this being the death of Sirius [XM], and it's idle talk that investors think about.

One of the reasons it's not happening was partially that telecoms have gone to metered plans, so people are concerned about that. That will be a continuing theme, even with 4G rolling out, but the other thing that's always been holding them back as well, the amount of money that they have to pay for songs.

We always say they have no operating leverage. Their costs scale directly in line with their revenues. There's legislation on the table right now to change that, so I think right now with Pandora investors even, it's not that you're buying the business for what it is.

There is a huge speculative option on them being able to decrease the licensing costs per song, so all of a sudden this becomes a really interesting play for investing within the next year, not just with Pandora, but Spotify in my opinion is a far superior business. It has a much better business model. I think users are much happier with it. I'm happy to pay my Spotify fee every single month.

Andrew Tonner: Absolutely.

Eric: Even though I listen to the same eight songs.

Austin Smith: I bet you've never had a Pandora membership, though.

Eric: I never had Pandora. I do think Spotify is fascinating. I think you're on track with that. I think it has customers that are delighted, and I think you do want to watch that.

Now, the legislation and that angle of it, seeing if they can get those fees that don't scale in line with cost directly, is going to be the make-or-break decision if you're an investor interested in the streaming space.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 08, 2013, at 11:25 AM, Editman999 wrote:

    When it comes to SIRI, I am a contrarian to your view that streaming media will be the death of SIRI. Having used both Pandora and SIRI with my cell phone, I buy into SIRI with 3 active accounts because I like the commercial free options. If you are on the road, satellite has bettter integration plan to the existing vehicle radio. I bought SIRI at $1.61 when everyone was talking about the death of SIRI and recently sold at $3.02. It could well be a $9 stock. Satellite, like FM, will be around for a long time (maybe the business model will change) but SIRI will adapt. As you point out, cell phone providers moving to "data plans" does not help Pandora or Spotify. Again, new cars have a button called SAT and many baby boomer owners will want the rights to continue the service (even if they only occassionaly use it) - SIRI owns this market and I don't see this changing for at least 5 years. I have no positions in SIRI or P.

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