Should Howard Stern make the move to iTunes? - Macenstein

Should Howard Stern make the move to iTunes?

Posted by Helper Monkey

Will the poster boy for free speech become the poster boy for the iPod? Fans of Howard Stern’s radio show are looking to generate some interest in a possible iTunes partnership with the “King of All Media�. While there are no official plans for such a partnership, the rumor boards on the Stern Fan Network are buzzing with the prospect.

Since his move to Sirius Satellite radio this year, Howard Stern has been inaccessible to millions of his fans unwilling/unable to pay the $12/month subscription cost. In addition to his Sirius show, Howard has his own In Demand TV channel “Howard TV� on many cable outlets. Currently the channel is largely re-broadcasting old episodes of Stern’s popular E! Television show, although these new versions are re-edited and uncensored. New content taken from his current show on Sirius will begin airing this March.

Some fans are hoping Howard will make these episodes available via the iTunes music store so they can pick and choose episodes instead of paying a flat monthly fee to their cable company for access to the entire library of Stern’s material (currently about $10 a month). Details of Stern’s agreement with In Demand are unknown, so it remains to be seen if Stern is even legally allowed to show his material on another medium other than In Demand.

But suppose he were. Would this be a smart move for Stern? Proponents on the board say “yes�. They cite the fact that the iTunes store would create a new outlet of exposure for Stern, who since moving to satellite no longer has the potential to entice new listeners and to stay in the mainstream public eye. Some have also said the prospect may prove too irresistible to Stern’s massive ego. The prospect of having the top 20 or so downloadable shows on the iTunes music store, the hottest outlet for digital content available at the moment, may be too much to resist. The exposure certainly wouldn’t hurt Sirius’ subscription rates. And it would likely not prove to be too much of a competitor to Stern’s Howard TV channel either. By only making select episodes available (albeit relatively juicy ones) Stern could build demand for the In Demand channel and create awareness of the Sirius show at the same time.

This would not be the first time Stern has embraced the online delivery method. Stern previously made available select uncensored episodes of his E! show available via the Windows-only Movielink service. However, those episodes cost $5.99 an episode, and made Apple’s DRM schemes look incredibly generous. Stern’s Movielink episodes would become de-authorized 24 hours after viewing.

But the question is, even if Stern WERE interested, would Apple be? While the iTunes music store is unlikely to have a problem with Stern’s language, Stern would be the first show to contain “hard core� nudity. Explicit content from SHOWTIME and Comedy Central has recently been added to the ITMS, and has quickly become some of the store’s bigger sellers.

Personally, I think a partnership would be beneficial to both Stern and Apple. Apple already has an effective parental control system in place to keep minors away from explicit content, and Stern’s programming would attract a much edgier audience to the store than the current Disney shorts can. I also think, however, that Apple is approaching explicit content with kid gloves at the moment, and a jump to Stern from “Fat Actress� this soon might be a bit much. However, by the end of this year, with the prospect of full length movie downloads and networks like HBO likely to join SHOWTIME and Comedy Central, the iTunes store could soon be the place to buy all your leading edge entertainment online. Apple would be foolish to underestimate Stern’s broad reach and commercial appeal.

4 Responses to “Should Howard Stern make the move to iTunes?”
  1. Brad says:

    Howard TV (his On-Demand channel) has a LOT more content than just old uncensored e-shows. They frequently create new content and update the channel. I’ve found myself watching Howard TV for over 4 hours on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

  2. Way Cool III says:

    Check out the big brain on Brad!

  3. MePhiMe says:

    It would be nice, but Sirius already has the S50 which stores 50 hours of content (only 20 hours talk show space). So, Sirius is in the hardware business already and would obviously only want to sell their own products (even if their only a licensor).

  4. Errand Wolfe says:

    I think this would be a good idea for Howard, but what idiot would pay $1.99 for 30 minutes of content when for $10 you can have ALL the content from Stern on Demand. We are not just talking a few old E episodes here, he already has a bunch of new material, and stuff from the Sirius shows should begin appearing next month.

    Now on a more thoughtful note, I recently had a conversation with a service rep at Sirius. Currently you can listen to all the music channels and several of the talk shows for free online if you already have a Sirius account. When I asked if Howard would soon be streaming, he said that yes Sirius did want to make Howard available online, but they were looking for a more secure solution then the one they currently have. Just thinking but iTunes has the “radio” catergory with live net streams, could they perhaps use that model and tie it into the iTunes Music Store for secure delivery?

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