Howard Stern has long been SiriusXM’s biggest subscriber draw, and that has earned him top dollar. But as podcasting becomes a bigger part of SiriusXM’s future, and with questions over whether Stern, 70, will stick with the radio show grind when his deal is up next year, the company’s latest podcast signing may be more lucrative than Stern’s contract. SiriusXM has inked a reported $100 million licensing deal for exclusive rights to the SmartLess podcast, hosted by actors Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Sean Hayes.
As part of the new agreement, the SiriusXM Podcast Network gains access to extensive exclusive content for its subscribers, consisting of early access to new episodes of SmartLess and SmartLess Media podcasts Just Jack & Will, Bad Dates, and Owned, as well as the opportunity to be in the live audience for special tapings, and more. Additionally, the majority of the SmartLess library will be available exclusively to SiriusXM, making it the only destination for fans to access the podcast’s complete catalog.
“Over the past several years, we have doubled down on our commitment to podcasting, and with the addition of SmartLess, we are strengthening our leadership position in podcasting,” said Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer at SiriusXM in the announcement.
Terms of the three-year deal were not made public, but Bloomberg pegs it at $100 million. That is more than the $60 million that Wondery and Amazon paid in 2021 for exclusive rights to the content in 2021. While the deal parameters are different, the price tag may be higher than what SiriusXM is paying Stern, which Forbes reported to be more than the $90 million. Prior to his latest deal in 2020, Stern’s previous five-year contracts have reportedly paid him between $80 million and $100 million a year.
The SmartLess deal includes more than content. SiriusXM Media, the company’s advertising division, gains exclusive global ad sales rights to the SmartLess podcast hosted by Arnett, Bateman, and Hayes, as well as select SmartLess Media shows Just Jack & Will, Bad Dates, and Owned. SmartLess Media joins a lineup of podcasts and media companies represented exclusively by SiriusXM Media, including Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend and the complete Team Coco roster, Ashley Flowers’ Audiochuck featuring Crime Junkie, and Crooked Media and its hit Pod Save America.
“This groundbreaking new collaboration showcases our power to drive growth for an established podcast while bringing unique value back to our subscribers through exclusive content and events,” Greenstein said. “I’m looking forward to new “SmartLess'' listeners discovering this one-of-a-kind trio’s inimitable style on SiriusXM, and for current fans to see what magic happens when we team up together.”
SmartLess was launched in July 2020. In each episode, one of the hosts reveals his mystery guest to the other two. The trio’s Hollywood connections have stacked the guest list with plenty of well-known actors and celebrities. It has been consistently among the top five most listened-to podcasts monthly. Two years ago, the hosts formed SmartLess Media to leverage that success into new podcasts.
The SmartLess Media deal with SiriusXM was brokered by CAA.