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Les Moonves’s lesson for Satellite Radio

Pretend you’re a honcho at Sirius or XM reading this interchange between WIRED magazine and CBS head Leslie Moonves (from this article):

Wired: There’s a lot of CBS material on YouTube. How does that work? Moonves: You have to look at it in two different ways. One is content that you will get paid for directly, and the other is promotional content. Our attitude is, either pay us for it or give us promotional value that will eventually lead to our getting paid for it.Wired: How do you tell the difference? Moonves: If there’s a one-minute clip of CSI, or user-generated clips like different shots of David Caruso taking off his glasses, that’s great promotion. If they were showing a whole episode of CSI and we weren’t getting paid, we’d object.

Now Les isn’t talking about satellite radio here, but he might as well be.

Satellite radio is utterly stuck in a worldview that the only way to get their content is to pay for it – that there is no such thing as “promotional value” when it comes to content.

Now, you might say – wait! XM provides a bunch of channels for free on AOL. Quite true. But most of these channels have commercial radio peers and are thus redundant – except for their commercial free status. Further, XM is giving too much away to make it effective promotion. Anytime you provide channels in their entirety you are not providing “promotional value,” you are giving away the store.

But wait, you might say, there have been free sampling days for Howard Stern’s show. Indeed there have. And you can count them on one hand. “Promotional value” in satellite radio is sprinkling highlights across all distribution channels that make potential subscribers salivate. Not enough to satisfy an appetite – just enough to create one.

Last week Howard Stern had the legendary Don Rickles in studio.

Did you know that? Did you hear even five minutes of it? Would you like to have heard more than five minutes?

If you could hear five minutes of Howard highlights every day would you be more or less likely to subscribe to Sirius?

If you can hear a LOT of it you have no need to subscribe. But only a little is a sampler.

And what the powers-that-be in satellite radio don’t seem to understand is that unless listeners actually hear what they’re missing, they’re not missing what they don’t hear.

Don’t take it from me.

Take it from Les.

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