Liberty CEO sees Sirius well positioned in audio boom with exclusive content like Howard Stern

Key Points
  • Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei believes the company is well positioned to capitalize on the growing popularity of podcasts and other audio content.
  • "Exclusives are what you want to have," he says, citing Howard Stern on Liberty-owned SiriusXM. "We have exclusives in the fact that if you want to listen to CNBC in the car."
  • SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer says the satellite and internet radio service is focusing on improving its ad technology to better monetize podcasts.
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Greg Maffei: SiriusXM has the benefit of exclusive content for podcasts

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei believes the company is well positioned to capitalize on the growing popularity of podcasts and other audio content.

Maffei, who joined CNBC's David Faber from Liberty's investor day in New York on Thursday, said that while there is competition for audio content, exclusive agreements should prove lucrative over time.

"Exclusives are what you want to have. And there are different forms of that," the CEO said. "We have exclusives obviously in things like Howard Stern. We have exclusives in the fact that if you want to listen to CNBC in the car, we're the way to do it, ESPN and the like."

"We have an exclusive with Marvel, we have an exclusive now with Lebron James called 'Uninterrupted,'" he continued. "Lots of things that are unique just to us."

Under the leadership of Maffei and Chairman John Malone, Liberty originally acquired a 40% stake in Sirius XM Radio back in 2009, saving the satellite-radio company from bankruptcy. Four years later, Liberty took majority control of Sirius.

"Not only is there upside in listenership and the kinds of content, including podcasts, but they're under-monetized. I think there's an opportunity to see increases in how podcasts and other forms of audio content are monetized," Maffei said.

"Yes, there's a little bit of a bidding war for audio content, but you can't spend on audio. A great podcast might be $250,000 a year; an hour of one of these high-end shows could be $10 million," he added. "The numbers are so far apart and the war is way less."

SiriusXM CEO: We need to work on monetizing podcasts

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SiriusXM CEO says it has work to do on monetizing podcasts

SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer echoed Maffei's bullish outlook on the opportunity presented by podcasts.

"There are debates on what the slope of the line is going to be in podcasts, but there is no question where north is," Meyer told CNBC later on Thursday. "It's going to grow exponentially, because people have always loved talk content … but younger people consume it differently than people from my generation."

To ensure SiriusXM is able to monetize on that exponential growth, Meyer said the company is focusing its efforts on improving its advertisement technology.

It's an area where SiriusXM — which has been assimilating with Pandora since acquiring the music streaming service last fall — has much room for growth, Meyer said.

"Advertising technology is crucial," he said. "We're great at it in music, we've got to transition that. Pandora never did it for spoken word. We've got to get that bridge in the next couple months."

Even so, the bridge doesn't necessarily lead to a crystal-clear future for audio revenue generation, Meyer cautioned. He said despite his confidence that future generations will always consume audio, "what I'm not positive of is what the revenue models will be five years from now, 10 years from now."

"So you have got to get really good at subscription. We are. You have to really get good at digital advertising. We now are," Meyer said. "And you have to get really good at cross promotion between, and that is the part we're going to have to work really hard at in the next 18 months."

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Watch CNBC's full interview with Sirius XM CEO Jim Meyer