Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Stern Effect - Alive and Well

January 17, 2007

The Stern Effect was a hot topic of discussion a year ago. Stern had just started with Sirius, and many were trying to determine what type of effect his arrival would have on Sirius.

The detractors said the Stern effect would be short lived and that it would be over in January. January 2006 passed, and Sirius reported a 66% NPD share, up an impressive 24 points from January 2005. "Surely this is the end", the detractors were heard to say, "Stern brought everyone he is going to bring in December and January."

February 2006 NPD came in and Sirius carried a 56% NPD share. The Stern detractors saw this as confirmation that indeed the Stern Effect was short lived. They neglected to consider that February 2006 represented an 18 point jump from February 2005.

March 2006 was much the same. Sirius garnered a 56% share, and the detractors raised their fists in the air in a sign of victory citing that indeed the Stern Effect was dead. It was the second wave of proclamation of the demise of Stern, but that did not matter to them. All that mattered was that in their mind the Stern Effect was dead.

April 2006 brought another feather into the cap for the "Stern Effect Is Dead" crowd. Sirius NPD retail share dropped by 2 points to 54%. Once again, these people shouted that the Stern Effect was dead. Now, for the third time, they were proclaiming their same mantra, oblivious to the fact that Sirius was still well above the prior years April numbers, and ignoring the fact that Sirius was maintaining an NPD advantage.

In May 2006, the Stern detractors saw the 54% NPD retail share as sure and solid confirmation that whatever Stern was going to deliver to Sirius has already happened. The Stern Effect is dead they proclaimed. "Look at the market share" they touted. It went from 66% to 56% to 54%....It is dropping, and will continue to drop until the share reverts back to previous levels.

Then came June 2006 and the first big holiday in the world of satellite radio (Fathers Day). Sirius came in with an NPD share at 61%. Those that called the Stern Effect dead for the four previous months were perplexed. It appeared that Howard Stern had more lives than the famous Montey Python's Black Knight! "Surely there was some explanation" they thought. It could not possibly be Howard Stern, after all, they had proclaimed his influence dead four previous times.

July 2006 brought about a 58% share. Three points less than June. The detractors now came up with their reasoning. "The Fathers day sales the month prior are mostly for men, and Sterns audience is mostly men, and thus the 61% in June 2006 was an aberration, and clearly we can see that market share will once again fall off for Sirius, because after all, the Stern Effect is dead."

August 2006 showed a Sirius NPD share of 55%. The detractors once again celebrated. This drop in market share shows quite clearly that the Stern Effect is dead. The last six times were crystal clear, but this 55% market share is crystal-crystal clear. The Stern Effect is dead.

September 2006 saw Sirius’ NPD share rise to 57%. The detractors were once again perplexed. There had to be some other reason besides Stern that the share jumped. After all, it could not be Stern, the Stern Effect has been confirmed as dead since February. Perhaps the new radios accounted for the bump in share, or people got the Oprah Effect and the Stern Effect confused.

October 2006 brought a dip in Sirius NPD share to 56%. The detractors jumped for joy. Surely the Stern Effect is dead. Sirius Internet Radio had the widely promoted free weekend and Stern was a big part of it! All that marketing and Sirius lost a point in retail. This became the crystal-crystal-crystal clear indicator that the Stern Effect was dead. Somehow the Stern detractors failed to consider that the Sirius Internet Radio promotion took place at the end of the month, and the retail spike would follow the promotion, but might I digress.

November 2006 brought with it a 59% NPD share for Sirius. Their highest level since June and the Fathers Day push. "It’s inconceivable" the perplexed detractors spoke much like Vizzini in The Princess Bride, but the message was not as strong as it had been. Shouts of the Stern Effect being dead turned into mumbles that did not seem to have passion. November 2006 was two points lower than November 2005, but that is not much consolation after months of speaking so strongly that the Stern Effect was dead all year long.

Now the December 2006 NPD numbers are out. Sirius' share came in at 66%, matching that of January 2006, and actually four points higher than December of 2005 when Stern Fever was everywhere. What do we have?


The numbers have spoken for themselves. It is crystal clear that the arrival of Stern has caused a shift not only in satellite radio, but in content challenged terrestrial radio as well. Sirius market share at retail continues to climb, as does their overall market share. Ratings for terrestrial radio continue to slump, and formats seem to shift as often as the seasons.

What is now known by most everyone is that the Stern Effect was much greater and longer lasting than the detractors thought. The Stern Effect is not a one time thing. The Stern Effect is about the most well known radio personality calling Sirius home. It is about brand awareness. It is about cross promotion. Sterns Effect is far greater than channel 100 and channel 101. Stern's Effect impacts other aspects of Sirius. Be it news, sports programming or womens programming, Stern brought the Sirius brand to the forefront, and the entire Sirius line-up benefits from it.

The Stern Effect is here, it has been planted, and will continue to grow. It is CRYSTAL-CRYSTAL-CRYSTAL CLEAR. With that established, lets move on to the on again off again merger speculation………sorry, that is another article altogether.

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1/18/2007 12:25:00 AM

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  • Great article. So often the facts are published and the story is bent to jive with them, as you point out. Stern's effect will continue to be felt. He will grow his audience. However, let's not discount the attraction of the other great talent on Sirius. Martha, Deepak, Playboy, NFL, Buffett, Catholic Radio channel, the pre NASCAR buzz and the buzz about the music channels etc all are coming together to solidify market share in the high sixties, might even go to 70!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 18, 2007 7:41 AM  

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