SiriusXM Navigating "Uncharted Waters" With Coronavirus, Says CEO

Jim Meyer - Getty - H 2019
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Jim Meyer told an investors conference the audio entertainment giant has seen little disruption to new car sales needed for satellite radio subscriptions, at least for now.

Jim Meyer, CEO of Audio entertainment giant SiriusXM, the home of Howard Stern, on Tuesday said the coronavirus outbreak had yet to dramatically impact the auto supply chain on which his company depends for new satellite radio subscriptions.

"Obviously with the backdrop of the coronavirus, it's unchartered waters for everyone," Meyer told the Deutsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference, which was set to take place in Palm Beach, Florida, but was changed to a virtual event amid virus outbreak fears.

The coronavirus crisis has auto analysts worrying about reduced sales for new cars and a shortage of car parts on production lines. "At this point, the supply chain is holding together remarkably well, as we speak. It's difficult for us to predict the entire auto supply chain, but the pieces of it we manage are holding together well and we continue to see vehicles shipping at a normal rate," Meyer reported.

"I'll get another update late this week, it will be interesting to see what sales were at over the past weekend, given the tumultuous nature of the financial markets, which kind of gives me pause," he added. The SiriusXM boss added any costly disruption to the auto supply chains could be offset by lower gas prices and reduced interest rates, which could underpin new car sales.

Meyer also addressed efforts by SiriusXM to get deeper into the podcast business to keep pace with rival streaming music services like iHeartRadio and Spotify. "We are in the podcast business now and we will certainly increase our efforts in the podcast business. That said, we're not going to do stupid things to overpay for content. I've been in that world. I don't want to go back there," he told investors.

On the issue of iHeartRadio, Meyer was asked about long-standing speculation that parent iHeartMedia post-bankruptcy could merge with SiriusXM and Pandora via parent Liberty Media, which is controlled by John Malone.

The SiriusXM boss said terrestrial radio, despite its balance sheet woes in a fast-changing digital landscape, still represented a major advertising revenue play. "When I tell you we want to be the leader in audio entertainment in North America, it certainly says we ought to look at that space," Meyer said of terrestrial radio.

But he gave nothing away about what Malone's Liberty Media had in mind for iHeartMedia. "I don't know what we are going to do here. If we were to do something there, it would be synergy driven. It's not obvious to me what that is. But there's more written about iHeart and Sirius than I spend time on it," Meyer added.