Will Pandora Destroy The Market For Satellite Radio?

Pandora announced that it will begin offering comedy clips for its streaming audio service, marking an important step for the expansion of Pandora into the multi-billion-dollar streaming audio market.

In February, Pandora filed the paperwork to conduct an initial public offering. The share price is yet to be determined, but Pandora’s stated goal is to raise $100 million in the offering. Pandora’s revenues were up roughly 30% last year, though the company continues to lose money on a net basis.

Despite operating in the red, Pandora has a user base of 80 million and has worked to create applications   for every major smart phone. Last December, Pandora updated its Android application, owned by Google, so as to allow it to integrate with Ford’s SYNC application available in many new Ford cars.

Pandora’s market entry into the comedy space mimics the agreement between XM radio and General Motors, as well as the agreement between Chrysler and Sirius radio. XM and Sirius merged in July 2008, and the stock has been steadily rallying since January 2009. It currently trades around $2, which is near the highs of the year.

Pandora has one obvious advantage over Sirius-XM: it’s free. Consumers wishing to experience premium radio content in their cars have been previously limited to shilling out the cash for a Sirius-XM subscription; but with Pandora entering the market, many of these consumers may wish to opt for the free service and save on expenses.

However, Ford has no formal agreement with Pandora. Nevertheless, Pandora’s integration with Ford’s SYNC is part of a larger strategy to integrate Ford vehicles with mobile phones. As Ford innovates in the digital integration realm, it seems likely that its competitors will follow.

Ford is currently trading just north of $15. This is a nearly 25% decline off its yearly high of $19, though is still significantly above its valuation post 2008 economic collapse. Ford’s exports may have benefited from a declining U.S. dollar.

With today’s market entry of Pandora into the comedy market space, many are wondering whether stalwarts like Sirius-XM will be able to maintain a competitive advantage to innovative start-ups like Pandora. Will Pandora destroy the market for satellite radio? Turn the dial to Pandora’s new customisable comedy station and tell us what you think.