Negotiations went down to the wire, but XM's Opie & Anthony morning show will go on for at least another two years.
The duo signed off on a deal that may hint at Sirius XM Radio's
Understandably, O&A were hoping to negotiate for better terms than they received when they hit XM's airwaves five years ago -- predating Stern's arrival on then-rival Sirius by three months.
After all, XM has a much larger subscriber base than it had five years ago. The successful merger between Sirius and XM -- coupled with the recent profitability at the combined company -- would hint at a bump in pay.
However, the two claim that they had to sign for essentially the same terms as their older contract, something that may also be holding up Sirius XM's talks with Stern.
Stern can make the same argument as O&A, since Sirius was even smaller than XM when the envelope-pushing icon arrived. However, he, too, will likely have to accept terms similar to his original deal -- and perhaps even less, if he's serious about wanting to work fewer hours and weeks.
Sirius XM isn't necessarily being Machiavellian here. It does have the upper hand. Satellite radio's growth has slowed, tacking on just 3% more subscribers than it had at the beginning of last year. In other words, it's not as if Stern or O&A are the same platform-recruiters that they used to be.
Stern's dismissal would hurt churn and retention -- and that's his bargaining chip -- but his options remain limited. Going back to terrestrial radio won't generate the kind of contract he inked with Sirius. Conventional radio is less of a factor. It's also not easy to return to an abandoned medium. XM decided to syndicate O&A through CBS
Stern has also threatened to launch his own premium streaming app. There are now more than 100 million devices out there built on Apple's
I just don't know whether Stern has the patience, stamina, and risk-taking veneer to chance bombing on a new medium. He can give Sirius another two years -- just as O&A did -- and see whether the premium streaming market exists at that point.
Then again, Stern can also offer more to gain leverage in the negotiations. His show is one of the few pieces of content not available to subscribers on Sirius' existing iTunes application. Stern has also discussed launching a third channel.
Hopefully, fans and investors won't be left hanging until the end of December for a resolution. During its last conference call, CEO Mel Karmazin expected an announcement before next month's third-quarter call.
I've got to think that the deal will be extended. Sirius XM wouldn't have played hardball with O&A if it felt it was about to lose Stern. If anything, it was simply trying to set an example.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a subscriber to both Sirius and XM. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.