Speaking on a conference call with analysts, Mr. Maffei said it’s “highly unlikely that anything would happen at the Liberty level.” He said that Sirius XM is “our play for the online play for music, whether it’s distributed through satellite or…through the online system.”
Maffei’s comments clear up one question for Wall Street as investors watch how his efforts to court Pandora Media Inc. play out. WSJ reported last month that Mr. Maffei had floated an informal, roughly $15-a-share bid for Pandora in recent months, but was rebuffed by the streaming music company’s board. Some analysts had wondered whether Liberty Media would be the vehicle for such a deal, given that it also has stakes in music-related entities like Indian music streaming service Saavn and Live Nation Entertainment, the concert and ticketing company.
On the call, Mr. Maffei didn’t directly address Pandora. But he did comment generally on how the plethora of streaming music options becoming available was commoditizing music, from Spotify to Apple Music to Amazon’s Prime music offerings. He noted that Spotify, which offers on-demand listening options, had content costs upwards of 80% of its revenue.
Still, Liberty and Sirius XM executives of late have made positive statements about the model of Pandora, whose internet radio service doesn’t require licensing directly from music labels but pays rates that are determined by the federal Copyright Royalty Board.