It was only a few weeks ago that Bubba The Love Sponge left Sirius XM Radio to pursue a new venture on upstart Internet radio broadcaster Radioio (Pink Sheets: IWDM). Radioio is a publicly traded company which is substantially controlled by Bubba's agent. The new show is available live and personalities from the show also program some of their own content.
Radioio has deployed an interesting feature called Radioio Live which could foreshadow what other Internet radio can do in the future. Radioio Live allows the service to be streamed live, taking out the "canned" aspect of the service and allowing for Internet radio providers to stream talk content as well as live music shows to listeners.
Last Fall I had a worry that Howard Stern could jump to such a service giving that service instant recognition and launching a stream of fans to wherever he landed. Ultimately Howard renewed his deal with Sirius XM and the worry seemed for naught. That sort of changed when Bubba The Love Sponge decided to take his show to Internet radio, and more specifically to Radioio.
IO World Media announced that new stream initiations for Radioio Live which can be accessed at radioio.com surpassed the 500,000 mark shortly after the exclusive live uncensored programing The Bubba the Love Sponge Show joined on.
“Radioio Live has exceeded our expectations in its first 10 days of availability,” said Thomas Bean, CEO of IO World Media. “What this early success reinforces to us is that the age old axiom of audience following content continues to ring true today and that having world class programming like The Bubba the Love Sponge Show is a difference maker in the new future of Internet Radio.”
Currently Radioio Live is available at no cost to listeners. Expanded programming as well as The Bubba the Love Sponge Show live and uncensored will be available with subscription packages starting March 1, 2011.
While the early success of Bubba's launch on Radioio is undeniable, the proof will come if the service can maintain growing numbers. It is one thing to bring over your core fans, but another altogether to maintain that growth. Continued growth relies on getting new fans to the service and paying the subscription. Without that much needed exposure growth become a challenge. Thus far Pandora has had the most success in integrating into devices, cars, and the app stores of the most popular smart phones.
With Pandora possibly going public in an effort to raise $100 million there is a possibility that the service could launch a live service of their own with live streaming of content. Such a move could narrow the content gap between Internet Radio and services such as Sirius XM. The disadvantage for Internet Radio is that exclusive talent carries costs, and no one out there can match the purse strings of Sirius XM. While Sirius XM seems behind the curve on several things, such as customizable streams, they are miles ahead in the all important exclusive content segment as well as the non-exclusive content!
For Sirius XM Investors the important thing to remember is that audio entertainment technology needs constant monitoring. What service is hot with consumers? What segment of consumers is listening to which service? Are competing services updating their offerings, distribution, and marketing efforts? Sirius XM Radio has a huge advantage. It is maintaining that advantage that is important. I realize there are some out there who will say Internet Radio services are a mere fad, and that because of costs they will not survive. I distinctly remember those same arguments being used against satellite radio! The fact is that they are available. Whether they make money or not is not material from a competitive standpoint. They exist and have made it through their most trying times.
Keeping focus on your investment in Sirius XM is great, but never forget to check what else is out there.
Position - Long Sirius XM Radio