HEY NOW! Howard Stern to sign $600 million 3 year agreement with Apple to host an Internet/TV/iTunes broadcast ?
Well, that would be awesome. For Stern, that is, not me, or many of his listeners. I’m one of those Stern fans who bought the lifetime Sirius subscription when Howard made the jump to Sirius radio from terrestrial radio, so any new move outside of Sirius is bound to personally cost me money to listen, but it is a very interesting rumor for a couple reasons. The first is, it would imply that Apple may be attempting to make a serious push into turning iTunes into a provider of original content – sort of like premium cable channels. This move makes sense, as with the number of iOS devices out there there is really no reason Apple couldn’t turn iTunes into the next Sirius Satellite radio. One thing Stern has proven is that he is one of the few, if only major radio personalities with a fan base loyal enough to not only actually pay monthly to hear him, but willing to buy new hardware and hang ugly antennas and wires out of their homes and cars to do it. So if Apple ever WERE to consider such a move, Stern would be a great choice to serve as the poster child for the network.
But more importantly, it might also be signaling Apple’s move towards (hopefully) creating a roped off “adults only” area of the iTunes store. Sure, you (and kids) can download Podcasts for free from the likes of Adam Carola with just as foul language as you’ll hear on Stern’s show (actually, Carolla lets the F-bomb fly far more often than Howard does), but there haven’t been any major podcasts on iTunes with the in-studio sexual hi-jinx that seem to outrage/titillate people the way Stern show does.
Given Steve Jobs’/Apple’s stance on “porn” in the App store, I’m unsure how credible to rate this rumor. The iTunes store currently enjoys a HUGE double standard when it comes to adult material, with graphic sex in R-Rated movies available on iTunes, as well as the filthiest musical lyrics available, yet Apple has cracked down hard on adult apps. I would assume Stern would fall into the music/podcast world of iTunes, where Apple has so far turned a blind eye on the whole “won’t somebody think of the children” thing. One thing’s for sure, if Apple really IS willing to spend $200 million a year for Stern, it’s going to cost us, as listeners.
In fact, the only way Apple could really have a chance of making that money back is if Stern’s show was not delivered as a Podcast at all, but rather a real-time radio streaming iTune radio App, complete with iAds. This would be my guess as Stern has long resisted the idea of a podcast, saying he likes the spontaneous feel of a live broadcast as opposed to forcing people to wait for yesterday’s news. A $600 million deal also implies that Stern would be an Apple exclusive, as well, thus shutting out Blackberry and Android users. Stern’s Sirius contract is up for renewal in a matter of days, so I suppose we’ll have to stay tuned to see if we’ll ever get to hear Beetlejuice on our iPhones.