Britney Spears & Howard Stern: What do New Celebrity Judges Mean for Talent TV?
Television networks are shelling out the big bucks to bring the grandest names in the entertainment industry to judge their celebrated talent shows. Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) America's Got Talent on NBC has decided to bring in Howard Stern to choose the fate of the country's freshest meat, while News Corp's (NASDAQ: NWSA) X Factor on FOX has paid a pretty penny for Britney Spears' involvement with the United States version of the Simon Cowell-produced singing competition.
Bringing in Stern and Spears to each network came at a high cost for NBC and FOX. Howard Stern reportedly signed a one year contract for around $20 million to replace departed judge Piers Morgan. Holding her own weight against that hefty payout, Britney Spears will be making fifteen times her new co-judge Demi Lovato's $1 million salary.
With such outrageous singular season earnings comes the question of whether or not these fortunes are worth spending to bring in additional viewers. However, history tends to repeat itself and the mega-success that trails Spears and Stern will more than answer with a resounding, booming "Yes!" - the cash is being well-spent.
Stern, 58, known for his outlandish and lucrative satellite radio show, has brought incredible success to the ever-evolving Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) trademark. His influence over sound wavelengths is so strong that Stern was able to ink a deal for $400 million in 2010 to keep his presence constant on the show that boosted not only his career, but the overall appeal of the SIRI brand as a whole.
To this day, Sirius is experiencing profitable quarters along with confident analyst remarks, largely thanks in part to Stern himself. At the beginning of this month, the company reported solid earnings and an impressive start to the year.
"Sirius XM Radio's latest quarterly results were especially encouraging on a number of fronts. The price increase has now been implemented for 35% of the subscriber base," Barrington Research said in a recent report. "Sirius XM Radio continues its progress in the key metrics that matter, including subscriber growth, conversion of trial subscribers to self-pay, revenue generation, moderating SAC levels, EBITDA and Free Cash Flow improvement and improving financial leverage ratios."
A price tag reaching almost half a billion dollars most certainly declares the amount of value Stern adds to the satellite radio industry, and equally speaks volumes to the success NBC is sure to report with its newest addition to the family.
The sweet smell of dollar bills fanning out is not foreign to Spears, either. In the midst of a continuously thriving musical career, she has managed to develop herself into a fragrant brand all her own. Sales from her ten perfumes over the past seven years have not only provided Spears with a large paycheck, but have helped to save Elizabeth Arden (NASDAQ: RDEN), the company from which Spears' scents are distributed.
Spears, 30, has always been particularly famous for stealing the show in some shape or form, but can she save a struggling television program the way she salvaged RDEN back in 2005? Following a slew of first season departures, ranging from Paula Abdul to Nicole Scherzinger, the X Factor is going for a total revamp its second time around in the U.S., and Spears' star power is more than likely just what the doctor ordered.
As the competition comes to a head, Stern and Spears have both come out winners before their shows even hit the air with record-breaking salaries and more notoriety than ever before.
America's Got Talent began its 7th season with Stern at the helm last night, and to no one's surprise he is receiving rave reviews . Not far behind, the X Factor is scheduled to premiere its second season this Fall on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on FOX.
CMCSA is currently trading at $29.03, up 22.44% year-to-date, and NWSA is trading at $20.07, up 12.5% year-to-date. SIRI is trading at $1.99 today, up 9.37% year-to-date, while RDEN is trading at $35.27, down 5.57% year-to-date.
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