Thursday, February 02, 2006

Stern Pirates

I saw a piece on TV this morning and read this article about people pirating episodes of Howard Stern's radio show on P2P networks. Nothing here is surprising. Of course people are going to pirate Stern's broadcasts. Of course Sirius is having a fit and promising to go after the pirates. It all begs the question, haven't we learned anything?
Look at the evolution of the original Napster, Kazaa, and now iTunes. People want to download music, they don't care about laws (Napster.) Shutting down one distribution method for this does no good as other, more efficient ones replace it (Kazaa.) The only way to really combat this is to offer the same thing legally and for a low price (iTunes.)
So the obvious thing that Sirius should do is offer Stern's shows on iTunes. They should offer them on a show-by-show basis for the iTunes standard of $0.99. In addition to that, they could offer a subscription via iTunes podcasts for say $15 per month. First off, anybody who regularly listened to Stern would spend way more money going this route than paying $13 per month for a Sirius subscription. They'd be paying more for less, since the $13 gets you a lot more than just Stern's four hours in the morning. So it's hard to see how they would be hurting themselves with this move. Additionally, it would let people taste-test Stern on Sirius. These are people who would never throw down the money for a Sirius setup and sign a subscription. However, some of those people are bound to do just that after taste-testing Stern on Sirius (assuming Stern is as entertaining as Sirius and the $500M they are paying him think he is.) So it should actually boost Sirius subscription rates in the long run. Finally, people have shown that if you give them a legal, low price option, they will pay for it over the illegal free option. Apple is closing in on a billion song sales on iTunes after all.

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