President/Chief Content Officer
POWER MOVE: An emphasis on what Greenstein calls “handcrafted” programs builds trust with artists and listeners -- and drives top-line revenue.
THE RUNDOWN: As SiriusXM sharpens its focus on special programming, why are so many major artists -- from Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan to Tim McGraw and Eminem -- willing to partner on original content?
With the satellite broadcaster’s revenue primarily provided by subscriber fees, president/chief content officer Scott Greenstein isn’t beholden to advertisers or Arbitron ratings, allowing SiriusXM to develop shows with only listeners in mind. In addition, his team mostly works from the gut, rather than using collaborative filtering or other analytical tools like many competitors.
“We program as human beings, not algorithms,” Greenstein says. “Artists trust what we do because we don’t have an agenda.”
The results have been impressive for new owner Liberty Media, which appears to be taking over SiriusXM at a decisive time. Already the largest broadcaster when measured by top-line revenue, the company finished 2012 with 23.9 million subscribers, a net gain of 2 million, and it expects to generate more than $3.7 billion in revenue this year. It’s quite a change from 2008-10, when SiriusXM struggled against bankruptcy and faced a dangerous free-fall as a penny stock. In the past year, shares have hovered between $2 and $3.
Along with music, programming like news/talk, sports play-by-play and Howard Stern are also part of the success. “It’s a mistake to assume people are one-dimensional,” Greenstein says. “We have several shows for everyone, and they tend to be more handcrafted than what might exist anywhere else.”