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Sirius XM Plays the Religion Card

Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI  ) signing up Joel Osteen in a content deal last week didn't bring the kind of Wall Street accolades that it probably should have. The market's full of heathens, it seems. 

However, this is a pretty big catch for Sirius XM. Set any religious skepticism aside for a moment. This isn't about wooing those who aren't sympathetic to Osteen's church of beliefs. The autumn launch of Joel Osteen Radio on Sirius XM is about latching on to the folks who already follow the popular husband-and-wife team.  

The global reach of Osteen's Lakewood Church is huge. It claims that its television ministries reach over 100 million homes in the U.S. and tens of millions more across 100 different nations. Sure, these are homes that merely have access to Osteen's programming. It doesn't mean that they are actually being reached. His appeal is still undeniable.  

Thankfully, we have a better metric for gauging Osteen's appeal without having to crack open a ratings book. Each week, more than 1 million people download Osteen's free podcast according to his ministry's website. A whopping 48 million audio and video podcasts have been downloaded. 

The podcast numbers aren't as high as the television ministry's potential land grab, but it's the more impressive metric. If there are really more than 1 million people tech savvy enough to stream Osteen's podcasts, imagine how many more out there would prefer to seamlessly turn on their car's satellite receivers to tune in to hear Osteen's sermons.

Isn't that the point of being in Sirius XM's position? It has more than enough channels in its arsenal to offer specialized content, just like the pay-TV providers that serve more than 100 million homes in this country. There is no such thing as a single channel that's universally enjoyed, but everyone has a couple of channels that are indispensable, so they stick around. As the only game in town when it comes to premium live radio, we're talking about 25.8 million subscribers as of the end of March. If you're putting out prolific audio content, why wouldn't you want some real estate on Sirius XM's dial? You would be reaching folks with enough disposable income to pay for radio. This gives Sirius XM some surprising leverage when it comes to wresting radio icons from terrestrial radio. 

It doesn't matter what you personally think about Osteen or religious content in general. It's incremental for Sirius XM, and likely in a major way with many of his followers that had sworn off satellite radio. This is a pretty big deal, and regardless of where you fall on the spiritual spectrum, it should fortify your faith in Sirius XM as an investment.

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  • Report this Comment On June 09, 2014, at 2:00 PM, dannysboy wrote:

    I won't be listening to Osteen but having him in the wide, wide spectrum of SiriusXM's offerings makes complete sense.

    I don't listen to Howard Stern either but he belongs too.

    Whether it's extremely popular broadcasting, like Stern, or smaller audiences, such as opera. It's on SiriusXM and that's why they are the Encyclopedia of Broadcasting, or maybe the Buffet of Broadcasting. Every thing is on the menu!

  • Report this Comment On June 10, 2014, at 10:46 AM, Heng wrote:

    Praise God for this service, this is great news

    I love to hear Osteen

  • Report this Comment On June 13, 2014, at 8:44 PM, sirifair6 wrote:


    Osteen will be another trump card on siri's table. The guy is huge and has a fantastic following. Moreover, he wil care about his following on sirius xm like he cares about everyhting else he does. This is a most valubale addition to the best and most diverse spectrum of content in the world offered by siri.

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Rick Munarriz

Rick has been writing for Motley Fool since 1995 where he's a Consumer and Tech Stocks Specialist. Yes, that's a long time. He's been an analyst for Motley Fool Rule Breakers and a portfolio lead analyst for Motley Fool Supernova since each newsletter service's inception. He earned his BBA and MBA from the University of Miami, and he now lives a block from his alma mater.

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