Lunchtime Briefing: Howard Stern Online
Now, he's taking his act global by going online: Keep the kids away from the PC!
Sirius is offering a free, two-day online trial of the subscription service on Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 25 and 26. The hope is that people will sign up for the free trial and like the service enough to pay $12.95 per month to keep it. (If you want a non-online version of Sirius--or its rival, Washington's XM--you have to buy a special radio receiver.)
Stern and his bawdy daily show is being offered as an extra enticement. That is, if you consider flatulence sound effects and live radio nudity enticement. But really, who doesn't?
The TV ads touting the two-day trial say that Stern left radio and "millions" followed. Now, "billions" can hear him on the Internet.
There's some truthiness to that statement.
Sirius finished 2005 with 3.3 million subscribers. Stern began his show in January. Earlier this month, Sirius was up to 5.1 million subscribers. (XM Satellite Radio has 7 million subscribers. XM, has provided online service to its subscribers since October 2004. Also, folks can buy an online-only version of XM, with fewer channels, for $7.99 per month.)
How much of Sirius's subscriber growth can be attributed to Stern is debatable. But why let facts get in the way of a good commercial?
I used to cover radio for The Post's Style section, and I always thought the three best radio broadcasters, in no particular order, are Rush Limbaugh, Paul Harvey and Stern. Each one loves radio and is a master at using it, material aside.
That said, if I had a kid, I wouldn't let him listen to Stern. Especially on satellite radio, which is not policed by the Federal Communications Commission for potential indecency violations. His act, which made him the most-fined broadcaster in FCC history when he was on over-the-air radio, has gotten raunchier now that the cuffs are off. (Or perhaps on, given the content of some of his shows.)
I signed up for the two-day trial to see if there were any parental safeguards. The only one I could see was the boilerplate that said that by clicking a button, I certified I was over 18. Yeah, okay. About as effective as the beer company Web sites that make you enter your birth date before you enter.
The two-day trial is the latest punch in the Sirius-XM satellite wars and comes as some Wall Street analysts are warning that the newish satellite radio market (XM launched in 2001) is already maturing, with subscriber growth flattening.
(Disclosure alert: I've been an XM subscriber since December 2001.)
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