It's the time of year when Hollywood agents take a breather from rolling calls and berating assistants, to offer up a few baubles to show their appreciation for the other 50 weeks of abuse.
Defamer, for example, carries the bitchy news of CAA's portable DVD player handouts, a meager also-ran when compared with William Morris' recent video iPod give-away -- apparently, WMA is taking a page from Paramount's Brad Grey last year, who garnered favorable reviews for his iPod largess.
It got me thinking: What is it with Apple? And why can't satellite radio catch a break?
Despite having spent hundreds of millions on content, satellite radio is in the toilet, while Apple continues to print money. Consider: Apple's stock is up 20% this year, while XM and Sirius are both down by 50%.
Then comes a report from Forrester Research this week, which found that on Apple's iTunes, "the median transaction is just $2.97, with a third of all purchases amounting to one song" and that just "the top 34% of iTunes customers account for 80% of all purchases."
In short, so much great content is available commercial free, and what's more, so few people are buying songs on iTunes, but their stock prices are headed in opposite directions. Go figure.
As to why, Slate offers this recent take on XM and Sirius, currently bleeding vast pools of red ink, with profitability nowhere in sight:
"But while subscribers have followed the talent and the programming, profits haven't... In the absence of XM, Sirius wouldn't have been forced to pay so much for Karmazin, Stern, and college basketball. In the absence of Sirius, XM wouldn't have been forced to pay so much for Oprah and NASCAR."
In other words, just being in the same room with one another is brutalizing both XM and Sirius.
Meanwhile, commercial radio has managed to take a great new technology called HD radio, and turn it into...well, nothing, according to Business Week: "HD radio - at least as it exists today - is largely the same vast wasteland as conventional radio, with stations offering short playlists of music in a few repetitive formats."
For now, at least, it appears that while the news for iTunes hasn't been all rosy, it's becoming clear that a bad day at Apple is still better than the best day at XM or Sirius.