Wild wild Web rumor caught fire overnight, claiming that Howard Stern — whose five-year, $500 million contract with Sirius/XM is up at the end of the month — is close to signing a three-year, $600 million deal to take his show to Apple’s iTunes.
Stern does not do a live show on Fridays, and was unavailable for comment. A representative for Apple did not return a request for comment.
There are so many reasons why this is bogus, it’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s start here.
Apple is notoriously conservative about what content it allows within its iTunes store — just ask Esquire, which had its "Sexiest Woman Alive" issue rung in Apple's decency ringer.
So why would family man Steve Jobs give Stern’s signature smut a platform? Sure, Stern — the self-proclaimed “King of All Media” — is satellite radio's biggest star, and a jump to Apple would convince at least some of the medium’s other stars to follow. (Also, Jobs’ fledgling Apple TV could certainly use a shock, err, shot in the arm.)
But how would Jobs justify bringing Stern’s strippers and midgets, or contests like “Lord of the Anal Rings Toss,” "Hottest Tranny," “Tiger Woods' Mistress Beauty Pageant,” and "World's Biggest Whore" into the fold? I realize Apple has a market cap of $290 billion, but does it really want the kind of F.C.C. scrutiny that comes with Howard Stern?
And why would Stern, whose morning show draws thousands if not millions of drive-time listeners, sacrifice them in favor of iTunes, an application (currently) predicated on show-by-show downloads? (I know you can theoretically stream stuff on iPhones and iPads, but the technology isn’t exactly smooth yet.) And would those fans even go through the hassle of downloading that morning’s show for the drive home?
Even Stern staffers aren’t buying it. “There are no sources/links backing it up,” Stern producer J.D. Harmeyer wrote on his own Twitter feed. “Until there are, I have my doubts.”
One thing I don't doubt, though: Barring a last-second Hail Mary from Mel Karmazin, Stern is not coming back to Sirius. The reasoning: If he was, both Sirius and Stern would have done all they could to come to an agreement before the holiday shopping season, when prospective satellite radio customers flood into Best Buys and Targets.
The silence from Stern and Sirius about a new deal, just three weeks from Christmas, is deafening.