|Martha and Sirius will create an around-the-clock channel of Martha Stewart radio programming.
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Plans to Restore Ms. Stewart 'to the Core' of the Business
The plan, unveiled at a morning press conference in Sirius' headquarters here, includes round-the-clock daily programming that will feature lifestyle content as well as Ms. Stewart herself.
Ad revenue sharing
Mr. Karmazin said the channel will sell advertising, with revenues shared between the two companies, Sirius and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Financial terms of the exclusive four-year deal weren’t disclosed.
“We have a tremendous amount of programming from which we can draw,” said Ms. Stewart, who rattled off cooking, collecting, entertaining, housekeeping, child care, children, animal keeping and weddings as content categories.
Mr. Karmazin said he hopes the deal will attract a new audience that satellite and terrestrial radio stations have largely ignored -- women. So far, Sirius’ major programming deals have included Maxim Radio, based on the men's magazine; shock jock Howard Stern, who starts in 2006; and an array of sports packages including the National Football League, National Basketball Association, college basketball and Nascar, which starts broadcasting in 2007.
'Truly a first'
“This is truly a first in radio that there is now a 24-hour-a-day channel really dealing with the lifestyle interests of women,” Mr. Karmazin said.
Sirius's president of entertainment and sports, Scott Greenstein, said Ms. Stewart’s channel is the latest step in Sirius’s business plan to expand its exclusive content. “We try to provide the widest spectrum of content, much like cable television. What we’re now growing into is creating exclusive content that’s only available here.”
Ms. Stewart’s following presents a large pool of potential subscribers from which the No. 2 satellite radio company can draw. Sirius has almost 1.4 million subscribers to XM Satellite Radio’s 3.8 million.
“We have a very loyal, very active following of women who are looking for every opportunity to interact with Martha and our team of experts,” said Susan Lyne, MSLO’s CEO. She said the company will draw on Martha Stewart Living’s 1.8 million subscribers and 12 million readers monthly, plus its Everyday Food, Weddings, Kids and Body & Soul titles to create an audience for Martha Stewart Living Radio.
One issue raised at the press conference was how Ms. Stewart would find time to add a radio show to her already packed media schedule. She’ll soon be hosting a daytime TV talk show five days a week as well as starring in The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Ms. Lyne explained that Martha Stewart Radio will begin after the conclusion of Ms. Stewart’s 48-hour-a-week work restriction, a condition of her probation following her release from federal prison, and that Ms. Stewart will be hooked up in her Bedford, N.Y., estate, allowing her to spontaneously join in the programming if she wished.
Martha's call-in call-ins
“She will be able to listen to whatever programming is on; if it’s a call-in show she’ll be able to tap into that and say, you know, ‘I heard the question from so-and-so and I had a couple of thoughts and here’s an idea for you,’” Ms. Lyne said. “In addition to that I think she does want to do her own programming and she will be very involved conceptually. If there’s one thing about Martha, she does not leave, particularly new creative projects, to just the staff.”
Ms. Lyne said the deal reportedly came about from Charles Koppelman, vice chairman of MSLO. “He said, ‘I’ve been listening to Sirius and it’s really interesting, I think we should call Mel,’” she recalled. That was six weeks ago, Ms. Lyne said; Mr. Koppelman confirmed MSLO had also spoken to XM Satellite Radio.