Paying an entertainer up to $120 million annually for their services? In this economy? What are you, crazy? Who is this guy, Howard Stern?
Yes? Well, in that case, back up the Brink's truck, baby, and don't dare think twice.
SIRIUSXM has apparently wisely surveyed the landscape and concluded that the longtime shock jock is worth every one of the 12,000,000,000 pennies. And Stern, as predicted, is leaning toward leaning into routine.
"Stern’s contract with Sirius expires at the end of December, and the 66-year-old has been negotiating a fresh deal for the better part of the year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are ongoing. His previous five-year contracts, which cover production and staff, topped out at roughly $80 million to $100 million."
"It's still possible talks will fall apart. Chief Executive Officer Jim Meyer, who has long seen Stern as key to Sirius’s success, will be leaving at the end of the year. But keeping Stern has been a major priority for the dominant player in satellite radio. The talk-show host is the company’s biggest star and helped draw millions of listeners to satellite radio when he left his job in terrestrial radio for Sirius in 2005."
There's been speculation that Stern could bolt for Spotify, which has made a flurry of high-profile acquisitions over the last year, from The Ringer to Joe Rogan. The industry is undoubtably becoming more and more podcast-centric, with everyone from Conan O'Brien to Michelle Obama to an army of lesser-known offerings who still provide revenue-creating opportunities.
SIRIUSXM desperately needs to keep Stern, a unicorn, even more so with Barstool "99.9 percent" out the door. There is perhaps no individual talent capable of driving this level of interest and subscriptions. His pandemic shows have proven he still has his fastball and his perpetually curious mind shows no sign of slowing.
But Stern also needs the platform, where he's grown comfortable. For all his bluster, he is a man of habit. And jumping to Spotify could potentially mean a protracted and ugly war over editorial control. Look no further than Rogan's show for that warning flag. New pastures bring new opportunities but they also bring new headaches.
It should come as no surprise that the inevitable extension is just around the corner. Stern is akin to a Top-5 NBA player capable of bringing championships no matter his supporting cast. A new challenge may be out there but if the hometown team is going to offer the biggest paycheck and best situation, why risk one's legacy elsewhere — especially in these uncertain times?