As rumors go, Liberty Media’s interest in acquiring Pandora is both apparent and remote. We know that Liberty (parent company of satcaster Sirius XM) reportedly bid for Pandora at $15 per share, and that the offer was rebuffed. Along with that, Liberty CEO Greg Maffei has expressed categorical negativity about the streaming business: “We have looked at the business models on a bunch of the streaming companies and found it very hard to see them [as] attractive,” he said in March.
Now, the Wall Street Journal (which owns this rumor generation) revives the Liberty/Pandora idea again by obtaining a quote from Maffei which seems to both discourage and encourage speculation. “I don’t know how I could have been more negative on streaming services,” Maffei said, reiterating his distaste for the business category. However, he did explain how Pandora would be positioned if Liberty were to acquire it, saying that it’s “highly unlikely that anything would happen at the Liberty level.” Maffei said that Sirius XM is the company’s “play for online music,” according to the WSJ.
Those quotes are from a conference call with investors. A week earlier, during Sirius’ quarterly earnings call, CEO James E. Meyers indicated that he had studied Pandora with interest: “You should assume we know an awful lot about Pandora just like we know an awful lot about a lot of the other streaming companies that are out there. It is fair to say today there is zero impact on our business from streaming, okay? We just don’t see it. I can tell you by and large again today when customers leave us, the vast majority of them are going back to terrestrial, in a particular FM radio.”
While Meyers might not be in love with the streaming model generally, he does regard Pandora’s prospects favorably: “Of all the streaming models out there and companies out there, it’s our guess that Pandora probably has the best chance of becoming profitable and probably has the most reasonable business model in that class.”