On my "Hollywood is Dead" blog I just wrote about the significance of Time magazine making "You" (mostly You Tube and My Space) its "Man of the Year" because of the impact of regular people networking and creating their own content:
But something Time doesn't mention is that Howard Stern has been on the fore front of this movement for some time. Long before You Tube was the darling of the mainstream press, Howard had his film festival where he invited fans from around the world to create shorts about his show. The results, frankly were amazing. Some incredibly high quality content created by fans on their own and for almost no money.
And long before You Tube even existed, Howard was playing audio clips of song parodies and prank calls created by his fans. The same technology that makes it easier for people to make their own films and music, makes it easier for Howard's fans to participate directly with the show, and Howard has from the very beginning understood and taken advantage of this growing phenomena. Before people even new it was a phenomena.
Moreover, Howard's fans have always been big on networking with each other, not only creating their own web pages and blogs but jumping into My Space very early.
So while a lot of the mainstream media are scared by this new development, Howard has already embraced it and profited by it. Of course, one area where Howard's empire could use some work is his own website and online offerings. While Howard's site does a far job of keeping up with general info, and it's great for seeing pictures of girls and guest moments after they've been on the air, it has almost no video content and isn't updated as much as it could be.
There's no reason Howard couldn't turn it into his own version of My Space and You Tube combined. Would this threaten fan generated signs like SFN and Marks Friggin? No, I think it could enhance them. And there are a lot of ways Howard could benefit from a much more expansive howardstern.com. The easiest and most profitable might be by offering subscriptions for My Space, Flicka, You Tube type offerings. Like My Space and You Tube it could be self policing with a little adult supervision.
My Space, frankly, sucks these days. It's covered with advertising and incredibly slow. You Tube is nice, but the technology behind it is improving rapidly and it wouldn't be hard to build something even better. It would be great if Howard fans had a place to share videos, audio, pictures and profiles in one easy interface. It could be offered for a couple bucks a month to Sirius subscribers, more for people who don't subscribe.
Or it could be offered as a bonus to subscribers, and might even encourage more people to join Sirius. If the hot viral video on the web is only available on howardstern.com and you want to see it, then you have to join Sirius.
Building up his website probably isn't a major priority for Howard right now, but I predict in future, as web content continues to grow in importance, we'll see a major upgrade.