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What SIRIUS on Sprint cell phones means to Radio

Sprint Nextel and SIRIUS recently announced a deal whereby 20 SIRIUS channels will be available on Sprint mobile phones for a small monthly fee.

I don’t think people in radio understand the consequence of this deal and ones like it.

From what I understand the SIRIUS programming going into phones will be provided by Sprint Nextel – it will not originate from a satellite.

In other words, SIRIUS views itself not as a “Satellite broadcaster” but as a CONTENT provider. They view themselves the same way a TV network does. And that means that they fully intend to distribute their content over any and all available audio channels, satellite or not.

Note, too, that a mere 20 channels of audio are being provided. This is strong support for my regularly stated opinion that “more choice” is not a primary driver for radio’s future, as many of our industry’s generals seem to mistakenly assume.

I submit that our industry still doesn’t grasp that its in the content business, otherwise it would be impossible for Clear Channel’s Mark Mays to crow about the low cost of launching HD Radio channels (top quality content is unlikely to come at a low cost – niche programming, however, is cheaper than Hell).

I see a lack of courage to invest in top-drawer content because that content can be expensive.

But without unique and compelling content you can’t effectively compete in the content business. Without unique and compelling content why should Sprint do a deal with you?

It would be so much easier to go to SIRIUS.

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