Why Liberty Likes Sirius: Free Advertising


Why is Liberty Media (LINTA) loaning hundreds of millions to slow-growing satellite radio monopolist Sirius XM (SIRI)?

The terms of the loan — 15% interest, and the chance to own 40% of the company — are good starters. But on Liberty’s earnings call today, CEO Greg Maffei said there are some strategic reasons, too. (Via PaidContent’s Rory Maher.)

For instance, Maffei thinks Sirius XM isn’t necessarily screwed, especially if it can get better contracts with content owners and the car companies responsible for most of its new subscribers.

And there are some promotional opportunities with satellite TV provider DirecTV (DTV). “Not necessarily to combine packages, but to promote each other’s services to their respective large audiences,” Maher writes.

The first part sounds fair. There’s no doubt Sirius could use better deals with sports leagues, Howard Stern, etc. — deals it signed while it was in a bidding war with XM. But we’re sceptical that Sirius will be able to turn things around based on free advertising from DirecTV. (Or that free ads on Sirius will convince its subscribers to flock to DirecTV.)