In an interesting new development, the Major League Baseball channel has found a new home on the Sirius side of the satellite radio dial. Previously this programming was not available to Sirius subscribers because the contract prohibited it. In essence, Sirius XM had to sit down at the table and make an arrangement that would allow MLB to be inclusive in any Best Of programming packages.
The natural time for the negotiations was shortly after the merger was approved. This would have allowed the Sirius side of the subscriber pool to enjoy MLB. That never happened, which indicated that perhaps there was a gap between the folks at MLB and the folks at Sirius XM.
Okay, not a big deal right? Well, that depends on how deep you want to look, as well as how much you want to speculate. You see, there is a small issue of $120,000,000 sitting in escrow. This escrow was established between XM and MLB prior to the merger. The money is just sitting there, unused. This money would be very helpful to Sirius XM Radio right now.
So why would negotiations be happening months prior to Spring training? A logical answer is that there was more than just programming offers being discussed. Yes, this is speculation, but there exists a possibility that Sirius XM and MLB have come to an agreement that would at least make the cash flow of the deal more friendly, and could even free up at least some of the escrow money.
With major debt issues in 2009, Sirius XM Radio will be making efforts to gain a financial edge wherever they can. It could even mean discussions with the NFL to make their $45 million due this year something more friendly.
So, consumers can listen to some hot stove baseball chat, and investors can consider what other conversations the dealings with MLB entailed. Time will tell.
Position – Long Sirius XM