Karmazin Says Sirius Won’t Target Home Video

Feb 9, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin said Wednesday he doesn’t expect to compete with DirecTV Group and EchoStar Communications in delivering satellite-based video content to households, preferring instead to focus on opportunities that might exist in automobiles.

Mr. Karmazin, who has been the CEO of Sirius for about three months, said at McGraw-Hill Co.’s annual media summit in New York that the extent of Sirius’ video initiative will be to deliver three or four satellite-based video channels into rear-seat entertainment systems found in sport-utility vehicles and minivans.

“I don’t see us bringing video to the home,” Mr. Karmazin told the audience attending . “I don’t know what we would do differently to differentiate ourselves.”

Alliances with automakers are at the heart of Mr. Karmazin’s growth plans. Already the company has struck a deal with Ford Motor Co. to install Sirius radios in 1 million Ford vehicles by 2007, and Mr. Karmazin is keen to strike deals with others to take advantage of what he predicted will be a larger base of potential customers than cable and satellite have for their video services.

Mr. Karmazin is also exploring deals with makers of portable devices such as the Apple iPod, and has had talks with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, though he said nothing has come of those conversations yet.

He acknowledged that the $500 million deal that Sirius struck with radio personality Howard Stern was indeed pricey, but repeated that only 1 million subscribers need to join Sirius to cover the cost of Mr. Stern’s contract. And while Mr. Karmazin said he wasn’t involved in Sirius’ deal for Mr. Stern, he said he “would have done it” exactly the same way.