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The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common stock held by non affiliates of Liberty Media Corporation computed by reference to the last sales price of such stock, as of the closing of trading on June 30, 2020, was approximately $
The number of outstanding shares of Liberty Media Corporation’s common stock as of January 31, 2021 was:
Liberty SiriusXM common stock
Liberty Braves common stock
Liberty Formula One common stock
Documents Incorporated by Reference
The Registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders is hereby incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
LIBERTY MEDIA CORPORATION
2020 ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
Table of Contents
Item 1. Business.
General Development of Business
Liberty Media Corporation (“Liberty”, the “Company”, “we”, “us” and “our”) owns interests in subsidiaries and other companies which are engaged in the global media and entertainment industries. Our principal businesses and assets include our consolidated subsidiaries Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (“Sirius XM Holdings”), Formula 1, Braves Holdings, LLC (“Braves Holdings”) and our equity affiliate Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (“Live Nation”).
During November 2015, Liberty’s board of directors authorized management to pursue a reclassification of the Company’s common stock into three new tracking stock groups, one to be designated as the Liberty Braves tracking stock, one to be designated as the Liberty Media tracking stock and one to be designated as the Liberty SiriusXM tracking stock (the “Recapitalization”), and to cause to be distributed subscription rights related to the Liberty Braves tracking stock following the creation of the new tracking stocks. The Recapitalization was completed on April 15, 2016.
The Liberty Media common stock was renamed the Liberty Formula One common stock in January 2017.
A tracking stock is a type of common stock that the issuing company intends to reflect or “track” the economic performance of a particular business or “group,” rather than the economic performance of the company as a whole. While the Liberty SiriusXM Group, Liberty Braves Group (the “Braves Group”) and Liberty Formula One Group (the “Formula One Group”) have separate collections of businesses, assets and liabilities attributed to them, no group is a separate legal entity and therefore cannot own assets, issue securities or enter into legally binding agreements. Therefore, the Liberty SiriusXM Group, Braves Group and Formula One Group do not represent separate legal entities, but rather represent those businesses, assets and liabilities that have been attributed to each respective group. Holders of tracking stock have no direct claim to the group’s stock or assets and therefore, do not own, by virtue of their ownership of a Liberty tracking stock, any equity or voting interest in a company, such as Sirius XM Holdings or Live Nation, in which Liberty holds an interest that is attributed to a Liberty tracking stock group, such as the Liberty SiriusXM Group. Holders of a tracking stock are also not represented by separate boards of directors. Instead, holders of a tracking stock are stockholders of the parent corporation, with a single board of directors and subject to all of the risks and liabilities of the parent corporation.
As part of the Recapitalization, the Formula One Group initially held a 20% intergroup interest in the Braves Group. As a result of a rights offering in May 2016 to holders of Liberty Braves common stock to acquire shares of Series C Liberty Braves common stock, the number of notional shares representing the intergroup interest held by the Formula One Group was adjusted to 9,084,940, representing a 15.1% intergroup interest in the Braves Group at December 31, 2019. In addition, during the fourth quarter of 2019, the Formula One Group began purchasing shares of Liberty SiriusXM common stock. As of December 31, 2019, the number of notional shares representing the intergroup interest held by the Formula One Group was 493,278, representing a 0.2% intergroup interest in the Liberty SiriusXM Group.
On April 22, 2020, the Company’s board of directors approved the immediate reattribution of certain assets and liabilities between the Formula One Group and the Liberty SiriusXM Group (collectively, the “reattribution”).
The assets reattributed from the Formula One Group to the Liberty SiriusXM Group, valued at $2.8 billion, consisted of:
|●||Liberty’s entire Live Nation stake, consisting of approximately 69.6 million shares of Live Nation common stock;|
|●||a newly-created Formula One Group intergroup interest, consisting of approximately 5.3 million notional shares of Liberty Formula One common stock, to cover exposure under Liberty’s 1.375% cash convertible senior notes due 2023 (the “Convertible Notes”);|
|●||the bond hedge and warrants associated with the Convertible Notes;|
|●||the entire Liberty SiriusXM Group intergroup interest, consisting of approximately 1.9 million notional shares of Liberty SiriusXM common stock, thereby eliminating the Liberty SiriusXM Group intergroup interest; and|
|●||a portion, consisting of approximately 2.3 million notional shares of Liberty Braves common stock, of the Formula One Group’s intergroup interest in the Braves Group, to cover exposure under the Convertible Notes.|
The reattributed liabilities, valued at $1.3 billion, consisted of:
|●||the Convertible Notes;|
|●||Liberty’s 2.25% exchangeable senior debentures due 2048; and|
|●||Liberty’s margin loan secured by shares of Live Nation (“Live Nation Margin Loan”).|
Similarly, $1.5 billion of net asset value has been reattributed from the Liberty SiriusXM Group to the Formula One Group, comprised of:
|●||a call spread between the Formula One Group and the Liberty SiriusXM Group with respect to 34.8 million of the Live Nation shares that were reattributed to the Liberty SiriusXM Group; and|
|●||a net cash payment of $1.4 billion from the Liberty SiriusXM Group to the Formula One Group, which was funded by a combination of (x) cash on hand, (y) an additional $400 million drawn from the Company’s existing margin loan secured by shares of common stock of Sirius XM Holdings, resulting in an aggregate outstanding balance of $750 million, and (z) the creation of an intergroup loan obligation from the Liberty SiriusXM Group to the Formula One Group in the principal amount of $750 million, plus interest thereon, which was repaid with the proceeds from the LSXMK rights offering described below (the “Intergroup Loan”).|
The reattribution is reflected in the Company’s financial statements on a prospective basis.
The Liberty SiriusXM common stock is intended to track and reflect the separate economic performance of the businesses, assets and liabilities attributed to the Liberty SiriusXM Group, which, as of December 31, 2020, include Liberty’s interests in Sirius XM Holdings, and Live Nation, corporate cash, Liberty’s 1.375% Cash Convertible Notes due 2023 and related financial instruments, Liberty’s 2.125% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2048, Liberty’s 2.25% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2048, Liberty’s 2.75% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2049, Liberty’s 0.5% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2050 and margin loan obligations incurred by wholly-owned special purpose subsidiaries of Liberty as of December 31, 2020. Sirius XM Holdings is the only operating subsidiary attributed to the Liberty SiriusXM Group. In the event Sirius XM Holdings were to become insolvent or file for bankruptcy, Liberty’s management would evaluate the circumstances at such time and take appropriate steps in the best interest of all of its stockholders, which may not be in the best interest of a particular group or groups when considered independently. In such a situation, Liberty’s management and its board of directors would have several approaches at their disposal, including, but not limited to, the conversion of the Liberty SiriusXM common stock into another tracking stock of Liberty, the reattribution of assets and liabilities among Liberty’s tracking stock groups or the restructuring of Liberty’s tracking stocks to either create a new tracking stock structure or eliminate it altogether. On February 1, 2019, Sirius XM Holdings acquired Pandora Media, Inc., which continues to operate as Pandora Media, LLC (“Pandora”). See note 5 to the accompanying consolidated financial statements for more information regarding the acquisition of Pandora. The Liberty SiriusXM Group retains intergroup interests in the Braves Group and the Formula One Group as of December 31, 2020, as described below.
The Liberty Braves common stock is intended to track and reflect the separate economic performance of the businesses, assets and liabilities attributed to the Braves Group, which, as of December 31, 2020, include its subsidiary, Braves Holdings, which indirectly owns the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball Club (“ANLBC,” the “Atlanta Braves,” the “Braves,” the “club,” or the “team”) and certain assets and liabilities associated with ANLBC’s stadium and mixed use development project (the “Development Project”) and cash. The Liberty SiriusXM Group and the Formula One Group retain intergroup interests in the Braves Group as of December 31, 2020, as described below.
The Liberty Formula One common stock is intended to track and reflect the separate economic performance of the businesses, assets and liabilities attributed to the Formula One Group, which, as of December 31, 2020, include all of the businesses, assets and liabilities of Liberty other than those specifically attributed to the Braves Group or the Liberty SiriusXM Group, including Liberty’s interest in Formula 1, cash, an intergroup interest in the Braves Group, Liberty’s 1% Cash Convertible Notes due 2023 and Liberty’s 2.25% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2046.
The number of notional shares representing the intergroup interest in the Braves Group held by the Formula One Group is 6,792,903, representing an 11.1% intergroup interest at December 31, 2020. The number of notional shares representing the intergroup interest in the Braves Group held by the Liberty SiriusXM Group is 2,292,037, representing a 3.7% intergroup interest at December 31, 2020. The number of notional shares representing the intergroup interest in the Formula One Group held by the Liberty SiriusXM Group is 5,271,475, representing a 2.2% intergroup interest at December 31, 2020. The intergroup interests represent quasi-equity interests which are not represented by outstanding shares of common stock; rather, the Formula One Group and Liberty SiriusXM Group have attributed interests in the Braves Group, which are generally stated in terms of a number of shares of Liberty Braves common stock, and the Liberty SiriusXM Group also has an attributed interest in the Formula One Group, which is generally stated in terms of a number of shares of Liberty Formula One common stock. The intergroup interests may be settled, at the discretion of the board of directors of the Company (the “Board of Directors”), through the transfer of newly issued shares of Liberty Braves common stock and Liberty Formula One common stock, respectively, cash and/or other assets to the respective tracking stock group. Accordingly, the Braves Group intergroup interests attributable to the Formula One Group and the Liberty SiriusXM Group are presented as assets of the Formula One Group and Liberty SiriusXM Group, respectively, and are presented as liabilities of the Braves Group. Similarly, the Formula One Group intergroup interest attributable to the Liberty SiriusXM Group is presented as an asset of the Liberty SiriusXM Group and is presented as a liability of the Formula One Group. The offsetting amounts between tracking stock groups are eliminated in consolidation. The intergroup interests will remain outstanding until the redemption of the outstanding interests, at the discretion of the Board of Directors, through a transfer of securities, cash and/or other assets from the Braves Group or Formula One Group to the respective tracking stock group.
In December 2019, Chinese officials reported a novel coronavirus outbreak (“COVID-19”). COVID-19 has since spread internationally. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization assessed COVID-19 as a global pandemic, causing many countries throughout the world to take aggressive actions, including imposing travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders, closing public attractions and restaurants, and mandating social distancing practices. As a result, the start of the 2020 Formula 1 race calendar and the Major League Baseball season were delayed until the beginning of July 2020 and end of July 2020, respectively. In addition, in mid-March 2020, Live Nation suspended all large-scale live entertainment events due to COVID-19.
On April 22, 2020, the Company’s board of directors authorized management of the Company to cause subscription rights (the “Series C Liberty SiriusXM Rights”) to purchase shares of Series C Liberty SiriusXM common stock, par value $0.01 per share (“LSXMK”), in a rights offering (the “LSXMK rights offering”) to be distributed to holders of Series A Liberty SiriusXM common stock, par value $0.01 per share, Series B Liberty SiriusXM common stock, par value $0.01 per share, and LSXMK. In the LSXMK rights offering, Liberty distributed 0.0939 of a Series C Liberty SiriusXM Right for each share of Series A, Series B or Series C Liberty SiriusXM common stock held as of 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on May 13, 2020. Fractional Series C Liberty SiriusXM Rights were rounded up to the nearest whole right. Each whole Series C Liberty SiriusXM Right entitled the holder to purchase, pursuant to the basic subscription privilege, one share of LSXMK at a subscription price of $25.47, which was equal to an approximate 20% discount to the volume weighted average trading price of LSXMK for the 3-day trading period ending on and including May 8, 2020. Each Series C Liberty SiriusXM Right also entitled the holder to subscribe for additional shares of LSXMK that were unsubscribed for in the LSXMK rights offering pursuant to an oversubscription privilege. The LSXMK rights offering commenced on May 18, 2020, which was also the ex-dividend date for the distribution of the Series C Liberty SiriusXM Rights. The LSXMK rights offering expired at 5:00 p.m. New York City time, on June 5, 2020 and was fully subscribed with 29,594,089 shares of LSXMK issued to those rightsholders exercising basic and, if applicable, oversubscription privileges. The proceeds from the LSXMK rights offering, which aggregated approximately $754 million, were used to repay the outstanding balance on the Intergroup Loan and accrued interest.
On January 26, 2021, Liberty Media Acquisition Corporation (“LMAC”) consummated its initial public offering (the “IPO”) of 57.5 million units (the “Units”), including 7.5 million Units sold pursuant to the full exercise of the underwriters’ overallotment option. Each Unit consists of one share of Series A common stock of LMAC and one-fifth of one redeemable warrant of LMAC. Each whole warrant entitles the holder thereof to purchase one share of Series A common stock for $11.50 per share, subject to adjustment, following the later of 30 days after the completion of LMAC's initial business combination and 12 months from the closing of the IPO. The Units were sold at a price of $10.00 per Unit, generating gross proceeds to LMAC of $575 million. Concurrently with the IPO, LMAC completed the private placement of 10 million warrants to its sponsor, Liberty Media Acquisition Sponsor LLC (the “Sponsor”), a wholly-owned subsidiary
of the Company, generating gross proceeds of $15 million. Each private placement warrant entitles the holder thereof to purchase one share of LMAC’s Series A common stock for $11.50 per share, subject to adjustment, following the later of 30 days after the completion of LMAC’s initial business combination and 12 months from the closing of the IPO. A total of $575 million was placed in a U.S.-based trust account. LMAC intends to search for a target in the media, digital media, music, entertainment, communications, telecommunications and technology industries, but may seek to complete a business combination with an operating company in any industry, sector or geographic region. Under the terms of the offering, the Company, through the Sponsor, owns 20% of LMAC’s issued and outstanding common stock and the Sponsor has committed to acquire $250 million of forward purchase units (each consisting of one share of LMAC’s Series B common stock and one-fifth of one redeemable warrant to purchase one share of LMAC’s Series A common stock) pursuant to a forward purchase agreement that will close substantially concurrently with the consummation of LMAC’s initial business combination. In addition, the Company, through the Sponsor’s ownership of LMAC founder shares, has certain governance rights which allow us to control LMAC’s affairs, policies and operations through the initial business combination. The Company’s ownership interest in LMAC will consist primarily of Series B common stock following the consummation of LMAC’s initial business combination, and is initially being attributed to the Formula One Group tracking stock.
* * * * *
Certain statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding business, product and marketing plans, strategies and initiatives; new service offerings; renewal of licenses and authorizations; revenue growth and subscriber trends at Sirius XM Holdings; our ownership interest in Sirius XM Holdings; the recoverability of goodwill and other long-lived assets; the performance of our equity affiliates; projected sources and uses of cash; the payment of dividends by Sirius XM Holdings; the impacts of COVID-19; the anticipated non-material impact of certain contingent liabilities related to legal and tax proceedings; and other matters arising in the ordinary course of business. In particular, statements under Item 1. “Business,” Item 1A. “Risk Factors,” Item 2. “Properties,” Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and Item 7A. “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk” contain forward-looking statements. Where, in any forward-looking statement, we express an expectation or belief as to future results or events, such expectation or belief is expressed in good faith and believed to have a reasonable basis, but there can be no assurance that the expectation or belief will result or be achieved or accomplished. The following include some but not all of the factors (as they relate to our consolidated subsidiaries and equity affiliates) that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated:
|●||the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and local, state and federal governmental responses to the pandemic on the economy, our customers, our vendors and our businesses generally;|
|●||our ability to obtain additional financing on acceptable terms and cash in amounts sufficient to service debt and other financial obligations;|
|●||our and our subsidiaries’ indebtedness could adversely affect operations and could limit the ability of our subsidiaries to react to changes in the economy or our industry;|
|●||the success of businesses attributed to each of our tracking stock groups;|
|●||our and Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to realize the benefits of acquisitions or other strategic investments;|
|●||the impact of weak economic conditions on consumer demand for products, services and events offered by our businesses attributed to each of our tracking stock groups;|
|●||the outcome of pending or future litigation;|
|●||the operational risks of our subsidiaries and business affiliates with operations outside of the United States;|
|●||our ability to use net operating loss, disallowed business interest and tax credit carryforwards to reduce future tax payments;|
|●||the ability of our subsidiaries and business affiliates to comply with government regulations, including, without limitation, FCC requirements, consumer protection laws and competition laws, and adverse outcomes from regulatory proceedings;|
|●||the regulatory and competitive environment of the industries in which we, and the entities in which we have interests, operate;|
|●||changes in the nature of key strategic relationships with partners, vendors and joint venturers;|
|●||competition faced by Sirius XM Holdings;|
|●||the ability of Sirius XM Holdings to attract and retain subscribers and listeners;|
|●||the ability of Sirius XM Holdings to market its services and sell advertising;|
|●||the ability of Sirius XM Holdings to maintain revenue growth from its advertising products;|
|●||the ability of Sirius XM Holdings to protect the security of personal information about its customers;|
|●||the interruption or failure of Sirius XM Holdings’ information technology and communication systems;|
|●||the impact of the market for music rights on Sirius XM Holdings and the rates Sirius XM Holdings must pay for rights to use musical works;|
|●||the impact of our equity method investment in Live Nation on our net earnings and the net earnings of Liberty SiriusXM Group;|
|●||challenges by tax authorities in the jurisdictions where Formula 1 operates;|
|●||changes in tax laws that affect Formula 1 and the Formula One Group;|
|●||the ability of Formula 1 to expand into new markets;|
|●||developments stemming from Brexit;|
|●||the establishment of rival motorsports events or other circumstances that impact the competitive position of Formula 1;|
|●||changes in consumer viewing habits and the emergence of new content distribution platforms;|
|●||the impact of organized labor on the Braves Group;|
|●||the impact of an expansion of Major League Baseball;|
|●||the level of broadcasting revenue that Braves Holdings receives;|
|●||the impact of the Development Project on the Braves Group and its ability to manage the project;|
|●||the risks associated with the Company as a whole, even if a holder does not own shares of common stock of all of our groups;|
|●||market confusion that results from misunderstandings about our capital structure;|
|●||events, accidents or terrorist acts that cause one or more events to be cancelled or postponed, are not covered by insurance, or cause reputational damage to our subsidiaries and business affiliates; and|
|●||challenges related to assessing the future prospects of tracking stock groups based on past performance.|
These forward-looking statements and such risks, uncertainties and other factors speak only as of the date of this Annual Report, and we expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to disseminate any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statement contained herein, to reflect any change in our expectations with regard thereto, or any other change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based. When considering such forward-looking statements, you should keep in mind the factors described in Item 1A, “Risk Factors” and other cautionary
statements contained in this Annual Report. Such risk factors and statements describe circumstances which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statement.
This Annual Report includes information concerning public companies in which we have controlling and non-controlling interests that file reports and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) in accordance with the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Information in this Annual Report concerning those companies has been derived from the reports and other information filed by them with the SEC. If you would like further information about these companies, the reports and other information they file with the SEC can be accessed on the Internet website maintained by the SEC at www.sec.gov. Those reports and other information are not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report.
Description of Business
The following table identifies our more significant subsidiaries and minority investments.
Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq:SIRI)
Braves Holdings, LLC
Equity Method Investments
Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:LYV)
Sirius XM Holdings
As of December 31, 2020, we owned approximately 76% of the outstanding equity interest in Sirius XM Holdings. Sirius XM Holdings operates two complementary audio entertainment businesses, Sirius XM and Pandora. Sirius XM Holdings continues to expand the range of choices for its listeners – both in terms of compelling content and the array of ways in which it can be consumed. There are approximately 135 million vehicles in operation with Sirius XM radios, and the proliferation of smart speakers and other connected devices has increased the range of options consumers have for engaging with and consuming Sirius XM Holdings’ content.
Sirius XM Holdings is also focused on rapidly growing content categories, such as podcasting. A podcast is a digital audio recording in spoken-word format, usually part of a themed series, which is downloaded or streamed most often to mobile devices. In 2020, an estimated 104 million Americans listened to a podcast at least monthly.
Sirius XM features music, sports, entertainment, comedy, talk, news, traffic and weather channels and other content, as well as podcasts and infotainment services, in the United States on a subscription fee basis. Sirius XM’s premier content bundles include live, curated and certain exclusive and on demand programming. The Sirius XM service is distributed through its two proprietary satellite radio systems and streamed via applications for mobile devices, home devices and other consumer electronic equipment. Satellite radios are primarily distributed through automakers, retailers and its website. The Sirius XM service is also available through a user interface called “360L,” that combines Sirius XM’s satellite and streaming services into a single, cohesive in-vehicle entertainment experience.
Sirius XM’s primary source of revenue is subscription fees, with most of its customers subscribing to monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual plans. Sirius XM also derives revenue from advertising on select non-music channels, direct sales of Sirius XM’s satellite radios and accessories, and other ancillary services. As of December 31, 2020, Sirius XM had approximately 34.7 million subscribers.
In addition to Sirius XM’s audio entertainment businesses, it provides connected vehicle services to several automakers. These services are designed to enhance the safety, security and driving experience of consumers. Sirius XM also offers a suite of data services that includes graphical weather, fuel prices, sports schedules and scores and movie
listings, a traffic information service that includes information as to road closings, traffic flow and incident data to consumers with compatible in-vehicle navigation systems, and real-time weather services in vehicles, boats and planes.
Sirius XM also holds a 70% equity interest and 33% voting interest in Sirius XM Canada Holdings Inc. (“Sirius XM Canada”).
Pandora operates a music, comedy and podcast streaming platform, offering a personalized experience for each listener wherever and whenever they want to listen, whether through mobile devices, car speakers or connected devices. Pandora enables listeners to create personalized stations and playlists, discover new content, hear artist- and expert-curated playlists, podcasts and select Sirius XM content as well as search and play songs and albums on-demand. Pandora is available as (1) an ad-supported radio service, (2) a radio subscription service (Pandora Plus), and (3) an on-demand subscription service (Pandora Premium). As of December 31, 2020, Pandora had approximately 6.3 million subscribers.
The majority of revenue from the Pandora business is generated from advertising on Pandora’s ad-supported radio service. Pandora also derives subscription revenue from its Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium subscribers.
The Pandora business also sells advertising on audio platforms and in podcasts unaffiliated with Sirius XM Holdings. Pandora has an arrangement with SoundCloud Holdings, LLC ("SoundCloud") to be its exclusive U.S. ad sales representative. Through this arrangement, Pandora is able to offer advertisers the ability to execute campaigns in the U.S. across the Pandora and SoundCloud listening platforms. Pandora also has arrangements to serve as the ad sales representative for podcasts produced by certain third parties. In addition, through AdsWizz Inc. (“AdsWizz”), Pandora provides a comprehensive digital audio and programmatic advertising technology platform, which connects audio publishers and advertisers with a variety of ad insertion, campaign trafficking, yield optimization, programmatic buying, marketplace and podcast monetization solutions. As of December 31, 2020, Pandora had approximately 58.9 million monthly active users.
In February 2020, Sirius XM Holdings completed a $75 million investment in SoundCloud. SoundCloud is the world’s largest open audio platform, with a connected community of creators, listeners and curators. SoundCloud’s platform enables its users to upload, promote, share and create audio entertainment. The minority investment complements the existing ad sales relationship between SoundCloud and Pandora.
In June 2020, Sirius XM Holdings acquired Audios Ventures Inc. (which does business as Simplecast) (“Simplecast”), a podcast management and analytics platform. Simplecast complements AdsWizz’s advertising technology platform, allowing the company to offer podcasters a solution for management, hosting, analytics and advertising sales. In October 2020, Sirius XM Holdings also acquired Stitcher and its Midroll advertising network from the E.W. Scripps Company. Stitcher is a leader in production, distribution, and ad sales in the podcast area.
The Sirius XM Business
Programming. Sirius XM offers a dynamic programming lineup of commercial-free music plus sports, entertainment, comedy, talk, and news, including:
|●||an extensive selection of music genres, ranging from rock, pop and hip-hop to country, dance, jazz, Latin and classical;|
|●||live play-by-play sports from major leagues and colleges;|
|●||a multitude of talk, entertainment and comedy channels for a variety of audiences;|
|●||a wide range of national, international and financial news; and|
|●||exclusive limited run channels.|
Sirius XM believes that its diverse programming, including its lineup of exclusive content, is a significant differentiator from terrestrial radio and other audio entertainment providers. Sirius XM makes changes to its programming lineup from time to time as it strives to attract new subscribers and offer content which appeals to a broad range of audiences and to existing subscribers. The channel lineups for its services are available at siriusxm.com.
Streaming Service. Sirius XM’s streaming service includes a variety of music and non-music channels, including channels that are not available on its satellite radio service, and podcasts. Sirius XM offers applications to allow consumers to access its streaming service on smartphones, tablets, computers, home devices and other consumer electronic equipment.
Sirius XM’s streaming product currently features: the broad range of music, sports, talk, news and entertainment channels available on satellite radio; access to over 100 additional music channels, which it refers to as Xtra Music Channels; and video content, including video from The Howard Stern Show and performances and interviews from Sirius XM’s archives, including in-studio performances and behind-the-scenes moments with artists, personalities and newsmakers.
Sirius XM’s service also includes a library of podcasts, some of which are exclusive to its service, and other on demand content. Sirius XM’s streaming service offers its subscribers the ability to choose their favorite podcast episodes from a catalog of content as well as select material from a growing library of podcasts Sirius XM is assembling.
Sirius XM’s streaming service is included as part of the price of the vast majority of Sirius XM’s packages, including the Select and All Access packages. The Personalized Stations Powered by Pandora feature, which allows subscribers to create their own customized commercial-free music stations within the Sirius XM app, is offered to consumers as part of the price of Sirius XM’s All Access package. Sirius XM also offers its streaming service in several standalone packages, which do not include a satellite radio subscription. These packages, which include the Premier Streaming Plan, Essentials Plan, Student Plan and Military Plan, are available to consumers at various prices and include a variety of content.
Sirius XM has entered into agreements with third parties designed to increase the distribution and ease of use of its streaming service, including through connected devices. Sirius XM also has various arrangements with various services and consumer electronics manufactures to include the Sirius XM streaming functionality with their service and devices.
360L. Sirius XM’s next generation automotive platform, which it calls “360L,” combines Sirius XM’s satellite and streaming services into a single, cohesive in-vehicle entertainment experience. Sirius XM has agreements with many automakers to deploy its 360L interface in a variety of vehicles. Sirius XM believes that 360L will be included in a majority of vehicles that include Sirius XM functionality in the future. 360L allows Sirius XM to take advantage of advanced in-dash infotainment systems. 360L is intended to leverage the ubiquitous signal coverage and low delivery costs of Sirius XM’s satellite infrastructure with the two-way communication capability of a wireless streaming service to provide consumers seamless access to Sirius XM’s content, including Sirius XM’s live channels, on demand service, podcasts and even more personalized music services. The wireless streaming connection included in 360L enables enhanced search and recommendations functions, making discovery of Sirius XM’s content in the vehicle easier. In certain cases, 360L also allows consumers to manage aspects of their subscriptions directly through their vehicles’ equipment and provides Sirius XM data to better enable it to understand how subscribers use Sirius XM’s service and how it can more effectively market its service to consumers.
Distribution of Radios
New Vehicles. Sirius XM distributes satellite radios through the sale and lease of new vehicles. Sirius XM has agreements with every major automaker to offer satellite radios in their vehicles. Satellite radios are available as a factory -installed feature in substantially all vehicle makes sold in the United States. Most automakers include a subscription to Sirius XM’s service in the sale or lease of their new vehicles. In certain cases, Sirius XM receives subscription payments from automakers in advance of the activation of its service. Sirius XM shares with certain automakers a portion of the revenue it derives from subscribers using vehicles equipped to receive its service. Sirius XM also reimburses various automakers for certain costs associated with the satellite radios installed in new vehicles, including in certain cases hardware costs, engineering expenses and promotional and advertising expenses.
Previously Owned Vehicles. Sirius XM also acquires subscribers through the sale and lease of previously owned vehicles with factory-installed satellite radios. Sirius XM has entered into agreements with many automakers to include a subscription to Sirius XM’s service in the sale or lease of vehicles which include satellite radios sold through their certified pre-owned programs. Sirius XM also works directly with franchise and independent dealers on programs for non-certified used vehicles. Sirius XM has developed systems and methods to identify purchasers and lessees of previously owned vehicles which include satellite radios and has established marketing plans to promote its services to these potential subscribers.
Retail. Sirius XM sells satellite radios directly to consumers through its website. Satellite radios are also marketed and distributed through national, regional and online retailers, such as Amazon.com.
Sirius XM’s Satellite Radio Systems
Sirius XM’s satellite radio systems are designed to provide clear reception in most areas of the continental United States despite variations in terrain, buildings and other obstructions. Sirius XM continually monitors its infrastructure and regularly evaluates improvements in technology.
Sirius XM’s satellite radio systems have three principal components: satellites, terrestrial repeaters and other satellite facilities; studios; and radios.
Satellites, Terrestrial Repeaters and Other Satellite Facilities
Satellites. Sirius XM provides its service through a fleet of orbiting geostationary satellites. Two of these satellites, FM-5 and FM-6, transmit Sirius XM’s service on frequencies originally licensed by the FCC to Sirius, and two of these satellites, XM-3 and XM-4, transmit its service on frequencies originally licensed by the FCC to XM. Sirius XM’s XM-5 satellite serves as a spare for both the XM and Sirius systems.
Sirius XM has entered into agreements for the design, construction and launch of two additional satellites, SXM-7 and SXM-8. On December 13, 2020, SXM-7 was successfully launched. In-orbit testing of SXM-7 began on January 4, 2021. During in-orbit testing of SXM-7, events occurred which have caused failures of certain SXM-7 payload units. An evaluation of SXM-7 is underway. The full extent of the damage to SXM-7 is not yet known.
Sirius XM does not expect its satellite radio service to be impacted by these adverse SXM-7 events. Sirius XM’s XM-3 and XM-4 satellites continue to operate and are expected to support its satellite radio service for several years. In addition, the XM-5 satellite remains available as an in-orbit spare. Construction of the SXM-8 satellite is underway and is expected to be launched into a geostationary orbit in 2021.
Satellite Insurance. Sirius XM has procured insurance for SXM-7 and SXM-8 to cover the risks associated with each satellite’s launch and first year of in-orbit operation. The aggregate coverage under those insurance policies with respect to SXM-7 is $225 million. Sirius XM has notified the underwriters of these policies of a potential claim with respect to SXM-7. Sirius XM does not have insurance policies covering its other in-orbit satellites, as Sirius XM considers the premium costs to be uneconomical relative to the risk of satellite failure.
Terrestrial Repeaters. In some areas with high concentrations of tall buildings, such as urban centers, signals from Sirius XM’s satellites may be blocked and reception of satellite signals can be adversely affected. In other areas with a high density of next generation wireless systems, Sirius XM’s service may experience interference. In many of these areas, Sirius XM has deployed terrestrial repeaters to supplement and enhance its signal coverage and in many other areas, Sirius XM may deploy additional repeaters to mitigate interference. Sirius XM operates over 1,000 terrestrial repeaters across the United States as part of its systems.
Other Satellite Facilities. Sirius XM controls and communicates with its satellites from facilities in North America. Its satellites are monitored, tracked and controlled by a third party satellite operator.
Sirius XM’s programming originates from studios in New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and, to a lesser extent, from smaller studios in Nashville and a variety of venues across the country. Sirius XM Holdings’ corporate headquarters is in New York City. Sirius XM provides equipment to artists and hosts to enable remote creation and transmission of programming.
Sirius XM does not manufacture radios. Sirius XM has authorized manufacturers and distributors to produce and distribute radios, and has licensed its technology to various electronics manufacturers to develop, manufacture and distribute radios under certain brands. Sirius XM manages various aspects of the production of satellite radios. To facilitate the sale of radios, Sirius XM may subsidize a portion of the radio manufacturing costs to reduce the hardware price to consumers.
Connected Vehicle Services
Sirius XM provides connected vehicle services to several automakers. Sirius XM’s connected vehicle services are designed to enhance the safety, security and driving experience for vehicle operators while providing marketing and operational benefits to automakers and their dealers. Sirius XM offers a portfolio of location-based services through two-way wireless connectivity, including safety, security, convenience, maintenance and data services, remote vehicle diagnostics and stolen or parked vehicle locator services. Subscribers to Sirius XM’s connected vehicle services are not included in its subscriber count or subscriber-based operating metrics.
In May 2020, Sirius XM terminated the Automatic Labs Inc. ("Automatic") service, which was part of its connected services business. Automatic operated a service for consumers and auto dealers and offered an install-it-yourself adapter and mobile application, which transformed vehicles into connected vehicles.
Commercial Accounts. Sirius XM’s programming is available for commercial establishments. Commercial subscription accounts are available through providers of in-store entertainment solutions and directly from Sirius XM.
Satellite Television Service. Certain of Sirius XM’s music channels are offered as part of select programming packages on the DISH Network satellite television service.
Travel Link. Sirius XM offers Travel Link, a suite of data services that includes graphical weather, fuel prices, sports schedules and scores, and movie listings.
Real Time Traffic Services. Sirius XM offers services that provide graphic information as to road closings, traffic flow and incident data to consumers with compatible in-vehicle navigation systems.
Real Time Weather Services. Sirius XM offers several real-time weather services in vehicles, boats and planes.
Commercial subscribers are included in Sirius XM’s subscriber count. Subscribers to the DISH Network satellite television service are not included in its subscriber count and subscribers to Sirius XM’s Travel Link, real-time traffic services and real-time weather services are not included in its subscriber count, unless the applicable service is purchased by the subscriber separately and not as part of a radio subscription to Sirius XM’s service.
Sirius XM Canada
Sirius XM holds a 70% equity interest and 33% voting interest in Sirius XM Canada, with the remainder of Sirius XM Canada’s voting and equity interests held by two shareholders.
Sirius XM entered into a Services Agreement and an Advisory Services Agreement with Sirius XM Canada. Each agreement has a thirty year term. Pursuant to the Services Agreement, Sirius XM Canada pays Sirius XM 25% of its gross revenue on a monthly basis and pursuant to the Advisory Services Agreement, Sirius XM Canada pays Sirius XM 5% of its gross revenue on a monthly basis.
As of December 31, 2020, Sirius XM Canada had approximately 2.6 million subscribers. Sirius XM Canada’s subscribers are not included in Sirius XM’s subscriber count or subscriber-based operating metrics.
The Pandora Business
Pandora Media, LLC, which owns and operates the Pandora business, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sirius XM Holdings.
Streaming Radio and On-Demand Music Services
Pandora offers a personalized audio entertainment platform for each listener. Users are able to create personalized stations and playlists and search and play songs and albums on-demand. The Pandora service utilizes content programming algorithms, data collected from listeners, and attributes of the music managed in the Music Genome Project - to predict user music preferences, play content suited to the tastes of each listener, and introduce each listener to music consistent with the consumer's preferences.
The Pandora service is available on iOS and Android mobile devices, web browsers and other internet connected devices. The Pandora application is free to download and use. The Pandora service is also available in vehicles in the United States with smartphone connectivity. Certain automakers now provide embedded streaming connectivity that supports and makes available the Pandora service in vehicles without the need for smartphone connectivity. In addition, the Pandora service is integrated into consumer electronic, voice-based devices and smart speakers.
The Pandora service is available as an ad-supported radio service, a radio subscription service (Pandora Plus), or an on-demand subscription service (Pandora Premium). Local and national advertisers deliver targeted messages to Pandora’s listeners on the ad-supported service.
Ad-Supported Radio Service
Pandora offers an ad-supported radio service which allows listeners to access its catalog of music, comedy, live streams and podcasts through personalized stations. This service is free across all platforms and generates stations specific to each listener. Each listener can personalize his or her stations by adding variety to the content.
Listeners of the ad-supported service are provided with the option to temporarily access on-demand listening, including certain features of the Pandora Premium service. Pandora refers to this temporary access as “Premium Access.”
Subscription Radio Service (Pandora Plus)
Pandora offers Pandora Plus - an ad-free, subscription version of the radio service that includes options for replaying songs, skipping songs, offline listening and higher quality audio on supported devices. Content provided to each listener of Pandora Plus is more tailored when the listener interacts more with the platform. Premium Access is also available to Pandora Plus listeners.
On-Demand Subscription Service (Pandora Premium)
Pandora offers Pandora Premium - an on-demand subscription service that combines the radio features of Pandora Plus with an on-demand experience. The on-demand experience provides listeners with the ability to search, play and collect songs and albums, download content for offline listening, build playlists, listen to curated playlists and share playlists on social networks. Listeners can also create partial playlists that Pandora can complete based on the listener’s
activity and the Music Genome Project. Listeners through mobile devices have access to customized profiles which identify information specific to each listener such as recent favorites, playlists and thumbs.
Pandora Premium incorporates social networking features including a centralized stream where listeners can view the music that their social connections are experiencing and provide and receive recommendations for songs, albums and playlists. Pandora Premium also includes a “share” feature where consumers can share their stations, songs, albums, podcasts or playlists through social media, messaging applications and email.
Pandora maintains a portfolio of proprietary advertising technologies which include order management, advertising serving and timing, native advertising formats, targeting and reporting. Pandora provides advertisers with the ability to target and connect with listeners based on various criteria including age, gender, geographic location and content preferences. The Pandora business’s primary source of revenue is the sale of audio, display and video advertising for its connected device platforms, including computers and mobile devices. Pandora also has agreements to sell the available advertising inventory in the United States for SoundCloud, one of the world’s largest open audio platforms, and other third parties.
Stitcher creates original podcasts and operates content networks that each target a specific genre and audience. Stitcher also provides podcast advertising services that generate revenue for approximately 200 shows and offers a mobile app listening platform where consumers can stream the latest in news, sports, talk, and entertainment on demand.
Stitcher earns revenue by distributing advertising on specific podcasts created by third parties, including placement based on an advertiser’s desired target audience, and from the sale of advertising on its owned podcasts and podcasts offered within the Stitcher app. Stitcher creates and distributes original podcasts through platforms such as its Stitcher app and the iPhone podcast app.
Stitcher also earns subscription revenue from its Stitcher Premium subscription service. Users pay a monthly or annual fee for access on Stitcher Premium to premium content and ad-free archived podcast episodes.
Through its AdsWizz subsidiary, Pandora is a leader in digital audio advertising technology. AdsWizz operates a digital audio advertising market with an end-to-end technology platform, including a digital audio software suite of solutions that connect audio publishers to the advertising community. AdsWizz offers a range of products -- from dynamic ad insertion to advanced programmatic platforms to innovative new audio formats. AdsWizz’s advertising technology also includes ad campaign monitoring tools and other innovative audio advertising products, such as audio formats that can let consumers trigger an action while listening to an ad as well as other personalization-based technology.
AdsWizz’s technology is employed by Pandora in its ad-supported business as well as by third party customers. AdsWizz’s third party customers include well-known music platforms, podcasts and broadcasting groups worldwide.
In June 2020, Sirius XM Holdings acquired Simplecast, a podcast management and analytics platform that complements AdsWizz’s audio advertising product offering.
Copyrights to Programming
In connection with its businesses, Sirius XM Holdings must enter into royalty arrangements with two sets of rights holders: holders of musical compositions copyrights (that is, the music and lyrics) and holders of sound recordings copyrights (that is, the actual recording of a work). Sirius XM and Pandora use both statutory and direct music licenses as part of their businesses. Sirius XM Holdings licenses varying rights - such as performance and mechanical rights - for use in its Sirius XM and Pandora businesses based on the various radio and interactive services they offer. Set forth below is
a brief overview of the music composition and sound recording licenses employed by Sirius XM and Pandora. These music licensing arrangements are complex and the description below is only a summary of these complicated licensing schemes.
Musical Compositions: Performance Rights and Mechanical Rights
The holders of performance rights in musical compositions, generally songwriters and music publishers, are represented by performing rights organizations such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (“ASCAP”), Broadcast Music, Inc. (“BMI”), SESAC, Inc. (“SESAC”) and Global Music Rights LLC (“GMR”). These organizations negotiate fees with copyright users, collect royalties and distribute them to the rights holders.
The holders of the mechanical rights in musical compositions, generally songwriters and their music publishers, have traditionally licensed these rights through the statutory license set forth in Section 115 of the United States Copyright Act (the “Copyright Act”); however, mechanical rights can also be licensed directly.
The changing market for musical compositions may have an adverse effect on the Sirius XM and Pandora businesses, including increasing costs and limiting the musical works available to them.
Sirius XM has arrangements with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and GMR to license the musical compositions it uses on its satellite radio and streaming services. These arrangements generally include fixed payments during the term of the agreement. Sirius XM does not require a mechanical license.
Pandora has arrangements with ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, GMR and a variety of other copyright owners to license the musical compositions performance rights used on Pandora services.
For the Pandora ad-supported radio service, each copyright holder receives as a performance royalty its usage-based and ownership-based share of a royalty pool equal to 21.5% of the content acquisition costs that Pandora pays for sound recordings on its ad-supported service.
Pandora must also license “reproduction rights” or “mechanical rights” to offer the interactive features of the Pandora services. For the Pandora subscription services, copyright holders receive payments for these rights at the rates determined in accordance with the statutory license set forth in Section 115 of the Copyright Act. In January 2018, the Copyright Royalty Board (the “CRB”) set a new rate structure for the five-year period commencing January 1, 2018 and ending on December 31, 2022. The rate was 13.3% of revenue or 24.1% of record label payments in 2020. The rate was scheduled to increase over the five-year period to 15.1% of revenue or 26.2% of record label payments by 2022.
In August 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the CRB failed to provide adequate notice of the rate structure it adopted, failed to explain its rejection of a past settlement agreement as a benchmark for going forward, and never identified the source of its asserted authority to substantively redefine a material term of its initial determination. For these reasons, the Court of Appeals overturned the CRB’s adopted rate structure and percentage rates and remanded the proceeding to the CRB for further proceedings. The CRB has announced further proceedings to consider and address the Court of Appeals’ decision.
Operators of a non-interactive satellite radio or streaming service are entitled to license sound recordings under the statutory license contained in Section 114 of the Copyright Act (the “statutory license”). Under the statutory license, Sirius XM Holdings may negotiate royalty arrangements with the owners of sound recordings or, if negotiation is unsuccessful, the royalty rate is established by the CRB. Sound recording rights holders, typically large record companies, are primarily represented by SoundExchange, Inc. (“SoundExchange”), an organization which negotiates licenses and collects and distributes royalties on behalf of record companies and performing artists.
Interactive streaming services, such as Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium, do not qualify for the statutory license and the services must negotiate direct license arrangements with the owners of copyrights in sound recordings.
Sirius XM Business. For the ten-year period commencing January 1, 2018 and ending on December 31, 2027, the CRB set the royalty rate payable by Sirius XM under the statutory license covering the performance of sound recordings over Sirius XM’s satellite radio service, and the making of ephemeral (server) copies in support of such performances, to be 15.5% of gross revenue, subject to exclusions and adjustments. The revenue subject to royalty includes subscription revenue from Sirius XM’s U.S. satellite digital audio radio subscribers, and advertising revenue from channels other than those channels that make only incidental performances of sound recordings. The rates and terms permit Sirius XM to reduce the payment due each month for those sound recordings directly licensed from copyright owners and exclude from revenue certain other items, such as royalties paid to Sirius XM for intellectual property, sales and use taxes, bad debt expense and generally revenue attributable to areas of Sirius XM’s business that do not involve the use of copyrighted sound recordings.
In 2020, Sirius XM paid a per performance rate for the streaming of certain sound recordings of $0.0024 on its Sirius XM streaming service.
Pandora Business. Pandora has entered into direct license agreements with major and independent music labels and distributors for a significant majority of the sound recordings that stream on the Pandora ad-supported service, Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium.
For sound recordings that Pandora streams and for which it has not entered into a direct license agreement with the sound recording rights holders, the sound recordings are streamed pursuant to the statutory license, and applicable rates thereunder, set by the CRB for the period commencing on January 1, 2016 and ending on December 31, 2020. Effective January 1, 2020, the rate for Pandora’s non-subscription services, such as its ad-supported radio service, was adjusted for inflation to $0.0018 per play, and the rate for its subscription services, such as Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium, was adjusted for inflation to $0.0024. Sound recordings subject to the statutory license can only be played through Pandora’s radio services and not through services that are offered on-demand or offline or through any replay or additional skip features. The CRB has completed a proceeding to determine the rates and terms for the sound recordings streamed pursuant to the statutory license for the period commencing on January 1, 2021 and ending on December 31, 2025. Pandora expects the CRB to issue its determination of these rates and terms on or prior to April 15, 2021.
Prior to the enactment of the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act in October 2018, Pandora’s rights to perform certain sound recordings that were fixed before February 15, 1972 were governed by state law. Pandora still faces a class action lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who allege that Pandora violated their alleged exclusive copyright ownership rights to the reproduction and public performance of sound recordings created prior to February 15, 1972. See “Item 3. Legal Proceedings” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for information on this action.
Sirius XM has registered, and intends to maintain, the trademarks “Sirius”, “XM”, “SiriusXM” and “SXM” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in connection with the services it offers. Sirius XM is not aware of any material claims of infringement or other challenges to its right to use the “Sirius”, “XM”, “SiriusXM” or “SXM” trademarks in the United States. Sirius XM also has registered, and intends to maintain, trademarks for the names of certain of its channels. Sirius XM has also registered the trademarks “Sirius”, “XM” and “SiriusXM” in Canada. Sirius XM has granted a license to use certain of its trademarks in Canada to Sirius XM Canada.
Pandora has registered, and intends to maintain, the trademarks “Pandora,” “Ampcast” and “Music Genome Project,” in addition to a number of other Pandora logos and marks, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in connection with the services it offers. Pandora also has registered the trademark “Pandora” in Australia, Canada, Chile, the European Union, India, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, Taiwan and other countries, and the trademark “Music Genome Project” in Australia, Canada, China and New Zealand.
Formula 1 holds the exclusive commercial rights with respect to the FIA Formula One World Championship (the “World Championship”), an annual, approximately nine-month long, motor race-based competition in which teams (the
“Teams”) compete for the Constructors’ Championship and drivers compete for the Drivers’ Championship. The World Championship, which has been held every year since 1950 and takes place on high profile iconic circuits, is a global series with a varying number of events (“Events”) taking place in different countries around the world each season. The 2020 World Championship calendar was originally scheduled to have 22 Events. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the season was postponed until early July, with certain Events being cancelled, certain new Events being added and others rescheduled at later dates. The revised 2020 World Championship calendar was comprised of 17 Events in 12 countries across Europe and the Middle East. In 2020, the World Championship was also followed by hundreds of millions of television viewers in approximately 200 territories. While Formula 1’s largest Events have historically hosted live audiences in excess of 300,000 on race weekends, fans were prohibited from attending all but three Events during 2020, with significant limitations on fan attendance at these Events, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Formula 1 is responsible for the commercial exploitation and development of the World Championship, in the course of which it coordinates and transacts with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (“FIA”), the governing body and regulator of world motor sport, the Teams, the race promoters that stage Events, various media organizations worldwide, as well as advertisers and sponsors. Formula 1 also performs activities related to critical components of the World Championship, including filming and providing technical support at Events, production of the international television feed and logistics related to the transport of its and the Teams’ equipment, ensuring high quality and reducing delivery risk around the World Championship. Additionally, Formula 1, pursuant to other agreements with the FIA, holds the exclusive right to promote and commercially exploit F2 and F3 through 2041.
Formula 1 also generates revenue from a variety of other sources, including the operation of the Formula 1 Paddock Club hospitality program (the “Paddock Club”), freight, logistical and travel related services for the Teams and other third parties, the F2 and F3 race series, which run principally as support races during Event weekends, various television production and post-production activities, digital and social media activities, other events such as fan festivals and business forums and revenue from other licensing of the commercial rights associated with the Formula 1 brand.
Formula 1 recognizes the majority of its revenue and expenses in connection with Events that take place in different countries around the world, generally between March and November each year. As a result, the revenue and expenses recognized by Formula 1 are generally lower during the first quarter as compared to the rest of the quarters throughout the year. However, due to the delayed start of the 2020 Formula 1 race calendar, with the first Event not taking place until July 2020, the revenue and expenses recognized by Formula 1 were significantly lower during the first and second quarters of 2020 as compared to the third and fourth quarters.
Formula 1 derives its primary revenue from the commercial exploitation and development of the World Championship through a combination of entering into race promotion, broadcasting and advertising and sponsorship arrangements. A significant majority of the race promotion, broadcasting and advertising and sponsorship contracts specify payments in advance and annual increases in the fees payable over the course of the contracts.
Race Promotion. Race promotion revenue comprised 12%, 30% and 34% of Formula 1’s total revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Formula 1 grants to race promoters the rights to host, stage and promote each Event pursuant to contracts that typically have an initial term of three to seven years. For established Events, the duration of subsequent renewals is more variable according to local market conditions. These contracts may allow for flat fees over the term, but more typically they include annual fee escalators over the life of the contract, which are typically based on annual movement in a selected consumer price index or fixed percentages of up to 5% per year. Race promotion revenue was significantly lower in 2020 as a result of the reduced calendar and one-time revised fee arrangements, as most Events were closed to fans, which provided very different economics for the promoters.
Race promoters are generally circuit owners, local and national automobile clubs, special event organizers or governmental bodies. Race promoters generate revenue from ticket sales and sometimes from concessions, secondary hospitality offerings (other than the Paddock Club), local sponsorship opportunities and on-site activations. Tickets are sold by the promoters for the entire Event weekend or individual days.
Broadcasting. Broadcasting revenue comprised 55%, 38% and 33% of Formula 1’s total revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. The variation in the 2020 percentage is due to a number of factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the significant decrease in race promotion revenue, as described above. Certain fee relief arrangements were made with broadcasting partners due to the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in fewer Events within a shorter period of time than anticipated. Formula 1 licenses rights to broadcast Events on television and other media platforms in specified countries or regions and in specified languages. These may also include rights to broadcast the race, practice and qualifying sessions, interactive television/digital services, repeat broadcasts and highlights. These contracts, which we refer to as television rights agreements (“TRAs”), typically have a term of three to five years. While annual fees from broadcasters may stay constant, they often increase each year during the term of the TRA by varying amounts. Formula 1’s broadcasting revenue is generated from: (a) free-to-air television broadcasts, which are received by the end user without charge (other than any television license fee), and non-premium cable, satellite and other broadcasts, which are received as part of a subscriber’s basic package (together, “free-to-air television”); and (b) premium and pay-per-view cable and satellite broadcasts, where the subscriber pays a premium fee to receive programming on a package or per-event basis (“pay television”). In 2020, Formula 1 had 13 free-to-air television agreements, nine pay television agreements and 23 agreements, including multi-territory agreements, covering both free-to-air and pay television. Formula 1’s key broadcasters include Sky (pay television) in the United Kingdom, RTL (free-to-air television) and Sky Deutschland (pay television) in Germany, Sky Italia (pay television) in Italy, Movistar (pay television) in Spain, Fox Sports/ESPN (pay television) in Pan Latin America, Canal+ (pay television) and TF1 (free-to-air television) in France, Globo (free-to-air television) and Globosat (pay television) in Brazil, ESPN and ESPN Deportes (pay television) in the United States, Fox Sports (pay television) in Pan Asia and MBC (free-to-air and pay television) in the Middle East and North Africa.
Advertising and Sponsorship. Advertising and sponsorship revenue comprised 17%, 15% and 15% of Formula 1’s total revenue for the years ended December 31, 2020, 2019 and 2018, respectively. Formula 1 sells Event-based advertising and sponsorship in the form of trackside advertising and race title sponsorship packages. In addition, advertisers can acquire status as a Global Partner of Formula 1 and/or Official Supplier to Formula 1. These advertiser and sponsor contracts typically have a term of three to five years (but may on occasion be of longer duration). Payments often increase each year based on a fixed amount, a fixed percentage or in accordance with the United States or European consumer price index or another agreed metric. Advertising and sponsorship revenue was significantly lower in 2020 as a result of certain Events not taking place and revised fee arrangements, as rights under certain contracts could not be fully serviced due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The remainder of Formula 1’s revenue is typically generated from a variety of other sources including the operation of the Paddock Club race-based corporate hospitality program at most Events, freight and related logistical and travel services, support races at Events (either from the commercial exploitation of the F2 and F3 series or from the licensing of other third party series or individual race events), various television production and post-production activities, digital and social media services and other Formula 1 ancillary operations. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of these operations were significantly reduced in 2020, and others could not be operated.
In 2018, Formula 1 launched F1TV Pro, a direct-to-consumer over-the-top broadcast product. Certain existing TRAs prevent F1TV Pro from being offered in the relevant territory, and the further global roll-out of the product will depend on the future renewal terms and/or renegotiations of these TRAs.
FIA and the Teams
Formula 1’s business is built on a number of key relationships—those with the FIA, the Teams and Formula 1’s principal commercial partners. See “—Key Commercial Agreements” below for more information about Formula 1’s relationships with the FIA and the Teams.
The FIA is the governing body for world motor sport and as such, is solely responsible for regulating the sporting, technical and safety aspects of the World Championship, including race circuits to be used by race promotors, through the FIA’s F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council. The FIA regulates all international motor sports, with the World Championship being the most prominent. The FIA owns the World Championship and has granted Formula 1 the exclusive commercial rights to the World Championship until the end of 2110 under the 100-Year Agreements (described below). In addition, the FIA, through its World Motor Sport Council, approves the calendar for the World Championship each year based on the agreed race promotor contracts for the coming season. Under the 100-Year Agreements, Formula 1 is only permitted to enter into race promotion contracts that are substantially in the form agreed between Formula 1 and the FIA.
The Teams are the participants in the World Championship and its Events, competing for the annual Constructors’ Championship, and their drivers compete for the annual Drivers’ Championship. There were 10 Teams competing in the 2020 World Championship. To be eligible to compete, a Team is responsible for the design and manufacturing of certain key parts of its cars, including the chassis. Currently, the Teams are supplied race engines by one of Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault or Honda. Under the terms of both the 2020 Concorde Arrangements and the 2021 Concorde Agreement (described below), Teams are entitled to receive significant team payments from a Formula 1 prize fund (the “Prize Fund”) based primarily on their results in prior years’ Constructors’ Championships. Formula 1 has no direct or indirect ownership interest in any Team, nor does it have any contractual arrangements with the drivers, who are all employed or contracted directly by the Teams. Each Team is responsible for securing its own drivers and funding the costs of competing in the World Championship. They receive Prize Fund payments from Formula 1, as well as sponsorship and advertising revenue from their own partners. The 2020 Concorde Arrangements (from January 1, 2021, the “2021 Concorde Agreement”) between Formula 1, the FIA and the Teams define the terms of the Team’s participation in the World Championship (for further detail on these arrangements, see “—Key Commercial Agreements—Concorde Agreement” below.)
One of the distinctive features of the World Championship is the celebrity and diversity of its drivers. Differences in nationalities, temperaments and racing styles form part of the attractive mosaic of Formula 1. The success of a local driver also impacts the television viewership and revenue generated from that country or region. High profile drivers from Germany (Vettel), the United Kingdom (Hamilton) and the Netherlands (Verstappen) have helped grow and sustain the Formula 1 business in those countries. For this reason, Formula 1 encourages the development of drivers from other strategic markets. F2 and F3 provide the training ground and stepping stones to Formula 1 for these drivers. All drivers are employed or contracted by the Teams and have no contractual relationship with Formula 1.
Key Commercial Agreements
Under the 100-Year Agreements entered into by Formula 1 and the FIA in 2001, Formula 1 was granted an exclusive license with respect to all of the commercial rights to the World Championship, including its trademarks. This license, which took effect on January 1, 2011 and expires on December 31, 2110, maintains Formula 1’s exclusive commercial rights to the World Championship which Formula 1 held under previous agreements with the FIA.
The 100-Year Agreements also provide that Formula 1 may appoint a representative to the FIA, subject to the FIA’s approval, and that person will be a member of the FIA’s F1 Commission and World Motor Sport Council. The FIA may terminate the 100-Year Agreements and Formula 1’s exclusive license upon a change of control of Formula 1, unless either the FIA previously approved the transaction or the transaction falls within one of a number of exceptions. Formula 1 obtained the FIA’s approval of its acquisition by Liberty in January 2017 under the 100-Year Agreements.
In addition, the FIA may terminate Formula 1’s license if (i) certain Delta Topco Limited (“Delta Topco”) subsidiaries party to the 100-Year Agreements become insolvent; (ii) Formula 1 fails to pay an amount due to the FIA and
such non-payment is not cured within 30 days of FIA’s demand for payment; (iii) arbitrators declare that Formula 1 materially breached the 100-Year Agreements and Formula 1 has not paid to the FIA certain penalties to cure such breach; or (iv) Formula 1 changes or removes certain of the FIA’s rights without its prior consent.
From 1981 until 2012, successive Concorde Agreements governed the relationship between Formula 1, the FIA and the Teams, including the regulation of the World Championship. After the then-current Concorde Agreement expired on December 31, 2012, Formula 1 entered into a separate binding bilateral agreement with each Team (the “Team Agreements”), securing the relevant Team’s commitment to continue participating in the World Championship until December 31, 2020. In addition, Formula 1 entered into the 2013 Concorde Implementation Agreement with the FIA in 2013. The 2013 Concorde Implementation Agreement, in addition to making certain modifications to the 100-Year Agreements for the period to end 2030, provides that the FIA agrees to provide certain sporting governance arrangements and regulatory safeguards for the benefit of the Teams, to enter into a new Concorde Agreement for a term of eight years (from 2013 to 2020) reflecting those sporting governance arrangements and regulatory safeguards and to enter into a subsequent Concorde Agreement from 2021 to 2030 or to extend the sporting governance arrangements or regulatory safeguards agreed under the 2013 Concorde Implementation Agreement on substantially the same terms from 2021 to 2030. The Team Agreements and the 2013 Concorde Implementation Agreement (collectively, the “2020 Concorde Arrangements”) together provided, until December 31, 2020, the contractual framework for the World Championship that was previously set out in the Concorde Agreements.
In August 2020, Formula 1, the FIA and the Teams entered into the 2021 Concorde Agreement, securing the commitment of the Teams to continue participating in the World Championship from January 1, 2021 until December 31, 2025, and governing the relationship between the parties during that period. The 2021 Concorde Agreement is made up of two separate documents: (a) the 2021 Concorde Commercial Agreement between Formula 1 and each of the Teams; and (b) the 2021 Concorde Governance Agreement between Formula 1, the FIA and each of the Teams.
Similar to the 2020 Concorde Arrangements, the 2021 Concorde Agreement provides, among other things, for the participation of the Teams in the World Championship during the term of that agreement, and provides for Formula 1 to make certain Prize Fund payments to the Teams based on their performance in the Constructors’ Championship and other principles (such as success and heritage in Formula 1).
As discussed above, the 2021 Concorde Agreement establishes a Prize Fund, establishes procedures for setting the World Championship calendar, and provides for certain termination rights. The 2021 Concorde Agreement establishes rules for the determination of the Prize Fund to be paid to the Teams, which is calculated with reference to certain percentages of Formula 1’s Prize Fund Adjusted EBIT (defined by Formula 1 as operating profit adjusted to exclude certain specific, and largely non-cash items). A share of the Prize Fund is paid to Ferrari in recognition of its heritage, with the remainder paid to Teams based on their results in prior Constructors’ Championships (a significant majority of which is based on their position in the prior year’s World Championship). Under the 2021 Concorde Agreement, the consent of 70% of the Teams is required if there are more than 24 Events in a season or if there are fewer than eight Events across Europe and North America combined.
The 2021 Concorde Agreement may be terminated with respect to a Team if the Team fails to participate in more than three Events in a season, fails to submit a valid entry for participation in the World Championship or becomes insolvent. Teams may terminate their rights and obligations pursuant to the 2021 Concorde Agreement by giving one full season’s written notice to Formula 1, as well as under certain other circumstances, including:
|●||Formula 1 is unable to pay its debts when they become due;|
|●||Formula 1 fails for three months to pay an aggregate amount due in excess of $10 million to the Team; or|
|●||Upon the occurrence of specified compliance violations or sanctions-related events.|
Circuit Rights Agreements
Under circuit rights agreements (the “Circuit Rights Agreements”), Formula 1 acquires from race promoters certain rights to commercially exploit at the Events, including the rights to sell trackside advertising and title sponsorship, the right to sell Paddock Club hospitality (other than at three Events) and commercial use of the name of the Event and circuit. In a few cases a cash payment is made for the grant of these circuit rights and in others Formula 1 offers a commission or share of revenue to a race promoter where they have been instrumental in introducing a new sponsor from its territory that purchases a title sponsorship or trackside advertising. Circuit Rights Agreements typically have a term that is tied to the relevant race promoter contract.
Formula 1 is the registered owner of a portfolio of trade mark registrations and applications, including for the F1 logo, the World Championship logo (which is used only in sporting contexts), “Formula One”, “Formula 1”, “F1” and “Grand Prix” when used in connection with any of the aforementioned and most of the official Event titles where they are capable of registration.
Formula 1 owns the copyright on footage of each Event since 1981 as well as footage related to a large number of pre-1981 Events. Ownership of this copyright enables Formula 1 to license that footage to broadcasters and to take legal action against infringers of that copyright. Under the 2021 Concorde Agreement, Formula 1 also has the exclusive right, subject to limited exceptions, to use each Team’s intellectual property rights (including image rights) to portray the World Championship and/or any Event in any visual form.
Licenses and Permits
Formula 1 is required to obtain permits for the allocation and use of radio frequencies which are necessary for the operation of live camera and other equipment used in the production of live television images and also in live radio communications used by Formula 1, the FIA, the Teams (including car to pit radio transmissions) and the emergency services. Such radio frequency permits are obtained by a dedicated unit in the television production team, with assistance from the local race promoter. Typically, such radio frequency permits are obtained from the relevant governmental authority responsible for licensing the use of radio frequencies in the host country of the relevant Event. The requirements and procedures for obtaining such permits vary by country and they may involve the completion of written formalities or the inspection by the relevant governmental authority of all equipment to be operated with a radio frequency. Permits are typically issued subject to conditions, which Formula 1 has generally been able to satisfy.
Formula 1’s goal is to further broaden and increase the global scale and appeal of the World Championship in order to improve the overall value of Formula 1 as a sport and its financial performance. Key factors of this strategy include:
|●||continuing to seek and identify opportunities to expand and develop the Event calendar and bring Events to attractive and/or strategically important new markets outside of Europe, which typically have higher race promotion fees, while continuing to build on the foundation of the sport in Europe;|
|●||developing advertising and sponsorship revenue, including increasing sales of Event-based packages and under the Global Partner program, and exploring opportunities in underexploited product categories;|
|●||capturing opportunities created by media’s evolution, including the growth of social media and the development of Formula 1’s digital media assets;|
|●||building up the entertainment experience for fans and engaging with new fans on a global basis to further drive race attendance and television viewership;|
|●||improving the on-track competitive balance of the World Championship and the long term financial stability of the participating Teams; and|
|●||improving the environmental sustainability of Formula One and its related activities, targeting a net zero carbon footprint by 2030 and sustainable race events by 2025, and building on Formula 1’s “WeRaceAsOne” initiatives to fight inequality and improve the diversity and opportunity in Formula 1 at all levels.|
Braves Holdings, LLC
Braves Holdings (collectively with its subsidiaries) is the indirect owner and operator of the Major League Baseball (“MLB”) club, the Atlanta Braves, and certain assets and liabilities associated with the Braves’ stadium and Braves Holdings’ Development Project, The Battery Atlanta and as described in “Mixed-use development” below.
Braves Holdings derives revenue from both local and national sources. Team revenue includes revenue from ticket sales, broadcasting rights, shared revenue collected and distributed by MLB, merchandise sales, minor league teams, revenue sharing arrangements and other sources. Revenue related to the Braves’ facilities includes corporate sales and naming rights, concessions, advertising, suites and premium seat fees, parking and publications. Ticket sales and broadcasting rights are the team’s primary revenue drivers. Revenue is seasonal, with the majority of revenue historically recognized during the second and third quarters, which aligns with a normal baseball regular season, consisting of approximately 160 games. However, the 2020 regular season was played entirely during the third quarter and consisted of only 60 games, without fans in attendance. The 2020 minor league season was cancelled. The Battery Atlanta derives revenue primarily from rental income (including overage rent and tenant reimbursements), parking and sponsorships throughout the year.
Ticket Sales. While there were no fans in attendance at any 2020 games, the Braves have historically offered single game tickets, as well as various season ticket packages. The per-ticket average price of 2019 full-season ticket plans ranged from $6 to $530, depending upon the seating area. The Braves utilize a variable and dynamic pricing strategy to help eliminate the perceived difference in value for certain games, which is often exploited in the secondary market. The Braves also encourage fans to use digital ticketing, which allows the club to track important data, put parameters on resales, and provide paperless benefits to its consumers.
Television and Radio Broadcasting. Braves Holdings derives substantial revenue from the sale of broadcasting rights to the Braves’ baseball games. Each MLB club has the right to authorize the television broadcast within its home television territory of games in which it participates, subject to certain exceptions. The Braves have a long-term local broadcasting agreement with Sportsouth Network II, LLC, the owner and operator of the SportSouth video programming service (“Bally Sport South,” formerly known as Fox SportsSouth). Nationally, the Braves participate in the revenue generated from the national broadcasting and radio arrangements negotiated by MLB on behalf of the 30 MLB clubs with ESPN, TBS, Fox and Sirius XM Holdings (the “National Broadcast Rights”). Under the rules and regulations adopted by MLB, as well as a series of other agreements and arrangements that govern the operation and management of an MLB club (collectively, the “MLB Rules and Regulations”), the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball (the “BOC”) has the authority, acting as the agent on behalf of all of the MLB clubs, to enter into and administer all contracts for the sale of National Broadcast Rights. Each MLB club also has the right to authorize radio broadcast, within the United States (or Canada, in the case of the Toronto Blue Jays), of its games, subject to certain restrictions. The Braves also have the largest radio affiliate network in MLB, with approximately 154 local radio station affiliates broadcasting Braves games across the Southeast (the “Braves Radio Network”). Television and radio broadcasting revenue was significantly lower in 2020 as a result of fewer games.
Advertising and Corporate Sponsorship. The Braves work with a variety of corporate sponsors to facilitate advertising and promotional opportunities at Truist Park. Advertising space is available on the main scoreboard, elsewhere throughout the ballpark and in programs sold at each game. The Braves also enter into long-term licensing agreements for advertising rights with respect to various suites and hospitality spaces. The Braves’ marketing department works closely with the club’s sponsors to offer contests, sweepstakes and additional entertainment and promotional opportunities during Braves home games, and the club allows the Braves name and logo to be used in connection with certain local promotional activities. The Braves also coordinate advertising placement through the Braves Radio Network, and has a cross-
promotional sponsorship and marketing agreement with Bally Sport South. Revenue from advertising and corporate sponsorships was significantly lower in 2020 as a result of fewer games, all without fans in attendance.
Player Contracts and Salaries. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (the “CBA”) requires MLB clubs to sign players using the Uniform Player’s Contract. The minimum Major League contract salary under the CBA for players during the 2020 season was $563,500 and will be $570,500 during the 2021 season. If a player is injured or terminated by the team for lack of skill during the regular season, he is entitled to all of his salary under the contract for the remainder of the year. Contracts may cover one year or multiple years, but generally under multi-year contracts a player’s salary is guaranteed even if the contract is terminated by the team, or if the player dies or becomes ill, during the term of the contract. Player salaries in 2020 were reduced to reflect the shortened season. The Braves are not required to pay the remaining contract salaries of players who resign or refuse to play. The CBA is currently set to expire on December 1, 2021.
Player Personnel. Under MLB Rules and Regulations, each team is permitted to have 40 players under contract, but is allowed to maintain only 26 players on its active roster (subject to limited exceptions) from the Opening Day of the season through August 31 of each year. During the remainder of the season, teams may keep 28 players under contract. Due to the shortened 2020 season, each team was allowed to keep at least 30 players on its active roster through August 6. During the remainder of the 2020 season, teams were allowed to keep 28 players. The Braves’ roster reflects the team’s commitment to developing and securing talented young players, driving future on-field success.
Player Development. In 2020, the Braves were associated with six minor league teams located in the United States, five of which were owned by Braves Holdings. The club’s 2020 minor league affiliates are detailed below:
Florida State League
North Port, FL
South Atlantic League
Gulf Coast League
North Port, FL
* Not owned by Braves Holdings
Starting with the 2021 season, a new player development system will be put in place by MLB comprised of 11 Professional Development Leagues. MLB Professional Development Leagues, LLC ("MLB PDL") will be responsible for the administration of the new system and will enter into player development license agreements with 120 minor league clubs that will compete in the Professional Development Leagues and be affiliated with MLB clubs, including the Braves. MLB PDL will also be responsible for enforcing the terms of each player development license agreement, including standards for facility quality and player working conditions. Each MLB club, including the Braves, will be affiliated with four Professional Development League clubs located in the United States and Canada. Three of the minor league clubs that are owned by Braves Holdings, the Gwinnett Stripes, Mississippi Braves and Rome Braves, have entered into player development license agreements with MLB PDL. Each license agreement has a 10-year term. Additionally, MLB PDL has selected the Augusta Green Jackets to be the fourth Professional Development League club to be affiliated with the Atlanta Braves. Braves Holdings will cease operations in Danville and the Braves will no longer be affiliated with the Florida Fire Frogs.
The Braves also operate a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic under the Dominican Summer League. Dominican players, and players from other Latin American countries, are an important source of talent for the Braves and other MLB clubs, but these players may not participate in the first-year draft process (which is limited to only residents of the United States, United States territories, and Canada, including international players who are enrolled in a high school or college in such locations). However, the Braves may enter into contracts with Latin American players, subject to certain MLB Rules and Regulations.
Truist Park. Effective for the 2017 season, the Braves relocated to a new ballpark in Cobb County, Georgia. Braves Holdings (or its affiliates) has exclusive operating rights to the facility via a 30-year Stadium Operating Agreement with Cobb County and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority (the “Authority”). In 2014, Braves Holdings, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, purchased 82 acres of land for the purpose of constructing a MLB facility and development of a mixed-use complex adjacent to the ballpark. The total cost of the ballpark was approximately $722 million, of which approximately $392 million was funded by a combination of Cobb County, the Cumberland Improvement District and the Authority and approximately $330 million was funded by Braves Holdings. Funding for ballpark initiatives by Braves Holdings has come from cash on hand and various debt instruments, as detailed in note 9 to the accompanying consolidated financial statements.
We believe Truist Park is an industry-leading sports complex spanning approximately 1,100,000 square feet, with 41,200 seats, including 30 suites and 4,200 premium seats, multiple hospitality clubs and retail merchandise venues. The stadium also features concessions and restaurant spaces, administrative offices for team operations, sales and marketing, as well as a ticket office, team clubhouse and training rooms.
CoolToday Park. In March 2019, the Braves relocated to a new spring training facility in North Port, Florida. The park is also the playing facility of the GCL Braves, the Rookie League affiliate of the Braves. The Braves have exclusive operating rights to the facility via a 30-year Facility Operating Agreement with Sarasota County. The club operates and maintains an 8,200 capacity stadium and clubhouse facilities for major and minor league players and staff, six practice fields, a half-sized field, agility field and batting cages. The park also features an academy for housing players, coaches and staff throughout the year. The academy opened in February 2020 and includes dining, meeting and auditorium spaces.
Braves Holdings, through affiliated entities and third party development partners, has developed a significant portion of the land around Truist Park for a mixed-use complex that features retail, residential, office, hotel and entertainment opportunities, known as The Battery Atlanta. Phase I of the project is complete and operational. Phase II is underway and includes thyssenkrupp’s new North American headquarters, Papa John’s International, Inc.’s Atlanta headquarters, an Aloft Hotel, a specialty market and cinema. Certain portions became operational during 2020, while the remaining portions under construction will become operational throughout 2021 and 2022. The estimated cost for Phase II is approximately $200 million, which Braves Holdings affiliated entities are expected to fund through a mix of approximately $55 million in equity and approximately $145 million of new debt. In October 2018, Braves Holdings sold the residential portion of the mixed-use complex, the proceeds from which are funding a portion of Phase II. See note 9 to the accompanying consolidated financial statements for debt information related to the mixed-use development.
MLB Rules and Regulations
As the owner of a MLB franchise, Braves Holdings must comply with the Major League Constitution and all rules and regulations promulgated thereunder. Each franchise is required to share locally derived revenue with the other MLB franchises through MLB’s revenue sharing plan. In accordance with the Major League Constitution, each MLB franchise participates in the Major League Central Fund, which acts as a conduit of centrally derived revenue (primarily from National Broadcast arrangements) to the clubs, and funds certain expenses (such as contributions to the MLB Players Benefit Plan and administrative and operational expenses of the BOC and the Major League Central Fund) on behalf of the MLB franchises. Subject to the terms of the Major League Constitution, each MLB franchise’s share of the Major League Central Fund is paid to each MLB franchise in the fiscal year it was received, or as soon as practicable thereafter. Each MLB franchise is also a partner in MLB Advanced Media L.P., which runs certain lines of business for MLB, including MLB’s official website and all of the MLB teams’ websites.
Live Nation is considered the world’s leading live entertainment company and seeks to innovate and enhance the live entertainment experience for artists and fans before, during and after the show.
The unprecedented and rapid spread of COVID-19 and the related government restrictions and social distancing measures implemented throughout the world have significantly impacted Live Nation’s live event business. Beginning in March 2020, large public events were cancelled, governmental authorities began imposing restrictions on non-essential activities, and businesses suspended activities around the world. As the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic became clearer, Live Nation ceased all tours and closed its venues in mid-March 2020 to support global efforts at social distancing and mitigating the virus, and to comply with restrictions put in place by various governmental entities, which has had a materially negative impact on its revenue and financial position.
Live Nation’s Business Segments
Concerts. Live Nation’s Concerts segment principally involves the global promotion of live music events in its owned or operated venues and in rented third-party venues, the operation and management of music venues, the production of music festivals across the world, the creation of associated content and the provision of management and other services to artists. While its Concerts segment operates year-round traditionally, Live Nation generally experiences higher revenue during the second and third quarters due to the seasonal nature of shows at its outdoor amphitheaters and festivals, which primarily occur from May through October. Due to the unprecedented stoppage of its concert events globally in mid-March due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Live Nation did not promote its usual number of shows or experience its typical seasonality trends in 2020. Revenue is generally impacted by the number of events, volume of ticket sales and ticket prices. Event costs such as artist fees and production expenses are included in direct operating expenses and are typically substantial in relation to the revenue.
Ticketing. Live Nation’s Ticketing segment is primarily an agency business that sells tickets for events on behalf of its clients and retains a portion of the service charge as a fee. Live Nation sells tickets for its events and also for third-party clients across multiple live event categories, providing ticketing services for leading arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters, music clubs, concert promoters, professional sports franchises and leagues, college sports teams, performing arts venues, museums and theaters. Live Nation sells tickets through websites, mobile apps, ticket outlets and telephone call centers. Live Nation’s Ticketing segment also manages its online activities including enhancements to its websites and product offerings. Live Nation’s ticketing sales are impacted by fluctuations in the availability of events for sale to the public, which may vary depending upon event scheduling by its clients. Due to the unprecedented stoppage of live events globally in mid-March and reduction in the number of fans in attendance due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Live Nation did not sell its usual number of tickets in 2020.
Sponsorship & Advertising. Live Nation’s Sponsorship & Advertising segment employs a sales force that creates and maintains relationships with sponsors through a combination of strategic, international, national and local opportunities that allow businesses to reach customers through its concert, festival, venue and ticketing assets, including advertising on Live Nation websites. Live Nation works with its corporate clients to help create marketing programs that support their business goals and connect their brands directly with fans and artists. Live Nation also develops, books and produces custom events or programs for its clients’ specific brands, which are typically presented exclusively to the clients’ consumers. These custom events can involve live music events with talent and media, using both online and traditional outlets. Live Nation typically experiences higher revenue in the second and third quarters as a large portion of sponsorships are typically associated with its outdoor venues and festivals which are primarily used in, or occur from, May through October. Due to the unprecedented stoppage of Liven Nation’s concert events globally in mid-March due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Live Nation did not recognize its normal amount of sponsorship revenue or experience its typical seasonality trends in 2020.
Terms of Live Nation Investment
At December 31, 2020, we beneficially owned approximately 69.6 million shares of Live Nation common stock, which represented approximately 33% of the issued and outstanding shares as of December 31, 2020.
Under our stockholders agreement with Live Nation, we have the right to nominate two directors (one of whom must qualify as an independent director) to the Live Nation board of directors, currently comprised of 12 directors, for so long as our ownership interest provides us with not less than 5% of the total voting power of Live Nation’s equity securities. We also have the right to cause one of our nominees to serve on the audit committee and the compensation committee of the board, provided they meet the independence and other qualifications for membership on those committees. Live Nation has waived the director independence requirement with respect to our nominees to the Live Nation board of directors, and we have waived our right to cause one of our nominees to serve on the audit and compensation committees of the board.
We have agreed under the stockholders agreement not to acquire beneficial ownership of Live Nation equity securities that would result in our having in excess of 35% of the voting power of Live Nation’s equity securities. That percentage is subject to decrease for specified transfers of our Live Nation stock. We have been exempted from the restrictions on business combinations set forth in Section 203 of the Delaware General Corporation Law, and Live Nation has agreed in the stockholders agreement not to take certain actions that would materially and adversely affect our ability to acquire Live Nation securities representing up to 35% of the voting power of Live Nation’s equity securities.
Other Minority Investments
We also own a portfolio of minority equity investments in publicly traded media companies, including iHeart Media, Inc. and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). These are assets that were previously acquired (some in tax-efficient transactions) and are currently held as non-core assets. In the past we have entered into swaps, exchangeable debentures, and other derivatives to monetize these investments and mitigate balance sheet risk. We intend to continue to monetize these investments, which may include further derivative and structured transactions as well as public and private sales.
Sirius XM Holdings
Sirius XM Holdings is subject to a number of foreign and domestic laws and regulations relating to consumer protection, information security and data protection. There are several states that require specific information security controls to protect certain types of information and specific notifications to consumers in the event of a security breach that compromises certain categories of personal information. Certain of Sirius XM Holdings’ services are also subject to laws in the United States and abroad pertaining to privacy of user data and other information, including the California Consumer Protection Act and the European General Data Protection Regulation. Sirius XM Holdings’ Privacy Policies and customer agreements describe its practices pertaining to the foregoing. Sirius XM Holdings believes it complies with all of its obligations under all applicable laws and regulations.
As an operator of a privately owned satellite system, Sirius XM is regulated by the FCC under the Communications Act of 1934, principally with respect to:
|●||the licensing of its satellite systems;|
|●||preventing interference with or to other users of radio frequencies; and|
|●||compliance with FCC rules established specifically for U.S. satellites and satellite radio services.|
Any assignment or transfer of control of Sirius XM’s FCC licenses must be approved by the FCC. The FCC’s order approving its merger with XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. in July 2008 requires Sirius XM to comply with certain voluntary commitments it made as part of the FCC merger proceeding. Sirius XM believes it complies with those commitments.
In 1997, Sirius XM was the winning bidder for FCC licenses to operate a satellite digital audio radio service and provide other ancillary services. Sirius XM’s FCC licenses for its Sirius satellites expire in 2022 and 2025. Sirius XM’s FCC licenses for its XM satellites expire in 2021, 2022 and 2026. The FCC has also granted Sirius XM licenses to construct, deploy and operate SXM-7 and SXM-8 as replacement satellites. Sirius XM anticipates that, absent significant misconduct on its part, the FCC will renew its licenses to permit operation of its satellites for their useful lives, and grant licenses for any replacement satellites.
In some areas, Sirius XM has installed terrestrial repeaters to supplement its satellite signal coverage. The FCC has established rules governing terrestrial repeaters and has granted Sirius XM a license through 2027 to operate its repeater network.
In certain cases, Sirius XM obtains FCC certifications for satellite radios, including satellite radios that include FM modulators. Sirius XM believes its radios that are in production comply with all applicable FCC rules.
Sirius XM is required to obtain export licenses or other approvals from the United States government to export certain equipment, services and technical data related to its satellites and their operations. The transfer of such equipment, services and technical data outside the United States or to foreign persons is subject to strict export control and prior approval requirements from the United States government (including prohibitions on the sharing of certain satellite-related goods and services with China).
Changes in law or regulations relating to communications policy or to matters affecting Sirius XM’s services could adversely affect its ability to retain its FCC licenses or the manner in which Sirius XM operates.
Competition Laws and Formula 1
The operations and business of Formula 1 are subject to European and national competition laws which require Formula 1 at all times to ensure its business practices and agreements are consistent with the operation of competitive markets. Following an investigation by the European Commission (“EC”) into the commercialization of Formula 1 and related agreements in 1999, Formula 1 modified certain of its business practices and changed the terms of a number of its commercial contracts with Teams, broadcasters, promoters and the FIA. In October 2001, the EC issued two comfort letters to Formula 1 stating that it was no longer under investigation. Comfort letters are not binding on the EC and if it believes that there has been a material change in circumstances, further enforcement action could be taken. The EC issued a press release in October 2003 stating that it was satisfied that Formula 1 had complied with the modified practices and terms that had led to its issuing the 2001 comfort letters and that it had ended its monitoring of Formula 1’s compliance.
Sirius XM Holdings faces significant competition for listeners and advertisers in its Sirius XM and Pandora businesses, including from providers of radio and other audio services. Sirius XM Holdings’ services compete with traditional AM/FM radio. Traditional AM/FM radio has a well-established demand for its services and offers free broadcasts paid for by commercial advertising rather than by subscription fees. Many radio stations offer information programming of a local nature, such as local news and sports. The availability of traditional free AM/FM radio may reduce the likelihood that customers would be willing to pay for Sirius XM Holdings’ subscription services and, by offering free broadcasts, it may impose limits on what Sirius XM Holdings can charge for its services. Several traditional radio companies own large numbers of radio stations and other media properties, such as podcast networks. Sirius XM Holdings also faces competition from streaming and on-demand services, including Amazon Prime, Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube. Major online providers make high fidelity digital streams available at no cost or, in some cases, for less than the cost of a satellite radio subscription. Certain of these services include advanced functionality, such as personalization and customization, and allow the user to access large libraries of content. These services, in some instances, are also offered through devices sold by the service providers including Apple, Google and Amazon. For some consumers, these services may compete with Sirius XM Holdings’ services, at home, in vehicles, and wherever audio entertainment is consumed. In addition, nearly all automakers have deployed integrated multimedia systems in dashboards, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These systems combine control of audio entertainment from a variety of sources, including AM/FM/HD radio broadcasts, satellite radio, streaming radio, smartphone applications and stored audio, with navigation and other
advanced applications. Streaming radio and other data are typically connected to the system through an Internet-enabled smartphone or wireless modem installed in the vehicle, and the entire system may be controlled by touchscreen or voice recognition. These systems enhance the attractiveness of Internet-based competitors by making such applications more prominent, easier to access, and safer to use in vehicles. Sirius XM Holdings also faces competition from a number of providers that offer specialized audio services through either direct broadcast satellite or cable audio systems. These services are targeted to fixed locations, mostly in-home, but also include mobile entertainment. The radio service offered by direct broadcast satellite and cable audio is often included as part of a package of digital services with video service, and video customers generally do not pay an additional monthly charge for the audio service. In addition, other services offered by these providers, such as cable television, on-demand video streaming, and interactive video games compete with Sirius XM Holdings’ services to the extent they utilize existing or potential users' and listeners' time that could otherwise be allocated to the use of Sirius XM or Pandora services. In addition, the audio entertainment marketplace continues to evolve rapidly, with a steady emergence of new media platforms that compete with Sirius XM Holdings’ services now or that could compete with those services in the future. A number of providers compete with Sirius XM’s traffic services. In-dash navigation is threatened by smartphones offering GPS mapping with sophisticated data-based turn navigation. Sirius XM’s connected vehicle services business operates in a highly competitive environment and competes with several providers, as well as with products being developed for vehicles by automakers and other third parties. OnStar, a division of General Motors, also offers connected vehicle services in GM vehicles. Sirius XM Holdings also competes with wireless devices, such as mobile phones. Sirius XM Holdings competes against other connected vehicle service providers for automaker arrangements on the basis of innovation, service quality and reliability, technical capabilities and system customization, scope of service, industry experience, past performance and price.
Sirius XM Holdings’ competition for advertisers include large scale online advertising platforms such as Amazon, Facebook and Google; traditional media companies such as television broadcasters and national print outlets; broadcast radio providers; podcast distributors and networks; and companies in the broadcast radio market. Sirius XM Holdings competes against these providers for advertisers on the basis of several factors, including advertisers’ overall budgets, perceived return on investment, effectiveness and relevance of Sirius XM Holdings’ advertising platforms, price, delivery of large volumes or precise types of advertisements to targeted demographics, transactional capabilities and reporting capabilities. The online advertising marketplace continues to evolve rapidly, particularly with the introduction of new digital advertising technologies and expanding capabilities of larger internet companies.
With respect to Formula 1, the World Championship competes with many alternative forms of entertainment, such as other sporting and live events, for television viewership, live attendance and advertising. For example, Formula 1 competes for broadcasting and advertising revenue with other global and regional Tier 1 sports, including the Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup, Champions League and Premier League. Within national markets, Formula 1 competes with local racing events, such as the Indianapolis 500 race and NASCAR in the United States.
Braves Holdings faces competition from many alternative forms of leisure entertainment. During the baseball season, Braves Holdings competes with other sporting and live events for game day attendance, which is integral to Braves Holdings’ ticket, concession and merchandise sales revenue. The broadcasting of the Atlanta Braves’ games, which is another significant source of revenue for Braves Holdings, competes against a multitude of other media options for viewers, including premium programming, home video, pay-per-view services, subscription video on-demand services, online activities, movies and other forms of news and information. In addition, Braves Holdings competes with the other MLB teams for a limited pool of player, coaching and managerial talent. This talent contributes to the Atlanta Braves’ record and league standings, which are critical components of Braves Holdings’ competitiveness.
Live Nation faces competition in the live music industry, in attracting touring artists to the venues it owns and operates and from ticketing services primarily through online and mobile channels but also through phone, outlet and box office channels. Competition in the live entertainment industry is intense. Live Nation believes that it competes primarily on the basis of its ability to deliver quality music events, sell tickets and provide enhanced fan and artist experiences. It believes that its primary strengths include the quality of service delivered to its artists, fans, ticketing clients and corporate sponsors, its track record in promoting and producing live music events and tours both domestically and internationally, its artist relationships, its global footprint, the quality of its ticketing software and services, its ecommerce site and extensive database, its diverse distribution platform of venues, the scope, effectiveness and expertise of its advertising and sponsorship programs and its financial stability.
Human Capital Resources
As of December 31, 2020, we had 84 corporate employees, and our consolidated subsidiaries had an aggregate of approximately 6,963 full and part-time employees. We believe that our employee relations are good.
Liberty and its subsidiaries strive to create diverse, inclusive and supportive workplaces, with opportunities for employees to grow and develop in their careers, supported by competitive compensation, benefits and health and wellness programs, and by programs that build connections between employees and their communities.
Liberty fosters a strong learning culture by investing in our employees and empowering them to participate in opportunities for personal and professional growth. Some of these opportunities (which vary across our company and our subsidiaries) include tuition reimbursement for professional related coursework, executive and career coaching, paid professional seminars, paid membership in professional organizations, on-site lunch and learn educational meetings and internally led presentations on industry topics.
Diversity and Inclusion
Liberty strives to cultivate a culture that provides a sense of belonging and inclusiveness. Our company respects diversity and the unique perspectives, ideas, skills and abilities of our employees that lead our company to achieve better business results. To reinforce this commitment to inclusion and diversity at the corporate level, Liberty supports domestic partner benefits, paid parental leave, fertility benefits, flexible work arrangements, on-going training, mentorship for female leaders and quarterly town-hall meetings with our Chief Executive Officer.
Similarly, our subsidiaries have undertaken their own individual commitments to developing a diverse workforce. Sirius XM Holdings is focused on increasing female and minority representation at all levels of its organization, and recruits talent in diverse communities, including by engaging as a sponsor of professional conferences, creating employment opportunities and offering leadership development. Sirius XM Holdings provides a mentoring program to help underrepresented employees benefit from coaching, guidance and feedback, and also has several employee resource groups supporting different diverse groups. Braves Holdings has launched a program to provide space for employees to share perspectives, thoughts and insights and engage in thoughtful discussion with peers. Braves Holdings has also created fellowship programs to promote the hiring of diverse talent and accessibility within areas including baseball and baseball operations, data and analytics, scouting and executive leadership. Through its efforts to develop diversity within motorsport, Formula 1 seeks to find untapped, often under represented, talent from new areas. Formula 1 has also committed to a strong internship program and apprenticeship opportunities and will be seeking to provide scholarships to talented engineers from diverse backgrounds.
Compensation and Benefits
Liberty and its subsidiaries aim to provide attractive compensation and benefits programs for their employees. In addition to salaries, these programs (which vary across our company and our subsidiaries) may include, among other items, bonuses, stock awards, 401(k) plans, non-qualified deferred compensation plans, healthcare and insurance benefits, health savings and flexible spending accounts, paid time off, paid parental leave, advocacy resources, flexible work schedules and employee assistance programs.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we and our subsidiaries implemented changes that we consider to be in the best interest of our employees, as well as the communities in which we operate, and which comply with government regulations. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our employees are working from home, and we have implemented additional safety measures for employees continuing critical on-site work. We believe we have been able to
preserve our business continuity without sacrificing our commitment to keeping our employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All of our filings with the SEC, including our Form 10-Ks, Form 10-Qs and Form 8-Ks, as well as amendments to such filings are available on our Internet website free of charge generally within 24 hours after we file such material with the SEC. Our website address is www.libertymedia.com.
Our corporate governance guidelines, code of business conduct and ethics, compensation committee charter, nominating and corporate governance committee charter, and audit committee charter are available on our website. In addition, we will provide a copy of any of these documents, free of charge, to any shareholder who calls or submits a request in writing to Investor Relations, Liberty Media Corporation, 12300 Liberty Boulevard, Englewood, Colorado 80112, Tel. No. (877) 772-1518.
The information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference herein.
Item 1A. Risk Factors.
An investment in our common stock involves risk. Before investing in our common stock, in addition to the other information described in Item 7 (“Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”) of Part II,” you should carefully consider the following risks. Such risks are not the only ones that relate to our businesses and capitalization. The risks described below are considered to be the most material. However, there may be other unknown or unpredictable economic, business, competitive, regulatory or other factors that also could have material adverse effects on our businesses. Past financial performance may not be a reliable indicator of future performance and historical trends should not be used to anticipate results or trends in future periods. If any of the events described below or in the documents incorporated by reference herein were to occur, our businesses, prospects, financial condition, results of operations and/or cash flows could be materially adversely affected, which in turn could have a material adverse effect on the value of our common stock.
Risks Relating to our Company, as a Whole
The historical financial information of the Liberty SiriusXM Group, the Braves Group and the Formula One Group included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may not necessarily reflect their results had they been separate companies.
One of the reasons for the creation of a tracking stock is to permit equity investors to apply more specific criteria in valuing the shares of a particular group, such as comparisons of earnings multiples with those of other companies in the same business sector. In valuing shares of Liberty SiriusXM Group tracking stock, Braves Group tracking stock and Formula One Group tracking stock, investors should recognize that the historical financial information of the Liberty SiriusXM Group, the Braves Group and the Formula One Group has been extracted from our consolidated financial statements and may not necessarily reflect what the Liberty SiriusXM Group’s, the Braves Group’s and the Formula One Group’s results of operations, financial condition and cash flows would have been had each of these groups been separate, stand-alone entities pursuing independent strategies during the periods presented.
We may have future capital needs and may not be able to obtain additional financing on acceptable terms.
As of December 31, 2020, we had outstanding corporate-level indebtedness in the principal amount of $4.8 billion. At December 31, 2020, our only wholly owned consolidated subsidiaries are Braves Holdings and Formula 1. Braves Holdings, due to its size and current indebtedness at its level, together with its assets and operating cash flow, would be insufficient to support any significant financing in the future. Our ability to access the cash flow of Formula 1 is subject to covenant restrictions set forth in the debt instruments of certain subsidiaries of Delta Topco, the parent company
of Formula 1. In addition, although we consolidate Sirius XM Holdings, we do not have ready access to the cash flow of Sirius XM Holdings due to Sirius XM Holdings being a separate public company and the presence of a significant non-controlling interest. Accordingly, our ability to obtain significant financing in the future, on favorable terms or at all, may be limited. If debt financing is not available to us in the future, we may obtain liquidity through the sale or monetization of our debt or equity securities, or we may issue equity securities. If additional funds are raised through the issuance of equity securities, our stockholders may experience significant dilution. If we are unable to obtain sufficient liquidity in the future, we may be unable to develop our businesses properly, complete acquisitions or otherwise take advantage of business opportunities or respond to competitive pressures, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations and those attributed to our groups.
A substantial portion of our consolidated debt is held above the operating subsidiary level, and we could be unable in the future to obtain cash in amounts sufficient to service that debt and our other financial obligations.
As of December 31, 2020, we had approximately $4.8 billion principal amount of corporate-level debt outstanding, consisting of $1 billion outstanding under our 1.375% cash convertible senior notes due 2023, $450 million outstanding under our 1% cash convertible senior notes due 2023, $203 million outstanding under our 2.25% exchangeable senior debentures due 2046, $400 million outstanding under our 2.125% exchangeable senior debentures due 2048, $385 million outstanding under our 2.25% exchangeable senior debentures due 2048, $604 million outstanding under our 2.75% exchangeable senior debentures due 2049, $920 million outstanding under our 0.5% exchangeable senior debentures due 2050, $750 million outstanding under a margin loan obligation incurred by our wholly owned special purpose subsidiary attributed to the Liberty SiriusXM Group and $74 million of other obligations. Our ability to meet our financial obligations will depend on our ability to access cash. Our primary sources of cash include our available cash balances, dividends and interest from our investments, monetization of our public investment portfolio and proceeds from asset sales. Further, our ability to receive dividends or payments or advances from our businesses depends on their individual operating results, any statutory, regulatory or contractual restrictions to which they may be or may become subject and the terms of their own indebtedness, including Sirius XM Holdings’ senior notes and credit facility and Formula 1’s subsidiary debt. The agreements governing such indebtedness restrict sales of assets and prohibit or limit the payment of dividends or the making of distributions, loans or advances to stockholders, non-wholly owned subsidiaries or our partners. We generally do not receive cash, in the form of dividends (other than quarterly dividends generally payable to Sirius XM Holdings stockholders pursuant to Sirius XM Holdings’ dividend policy, which is subject to change at any time and is at the discretion of Sirius XM Holdings’ board of directors in accordance with applicable law and after taking into account various factors affecting Sirius XM Holdings), loans, advances or otherwise, from any of our subsidiaries or business affiliates.
In addition, our Company’s borrowings under margin loans, Sirius XM Holdings’ borrowings under its credit facility, Formula 1’s borrowings under its loan facility and Braves Holdings’ borrowings under its operating credit facilities carry a variable interest rate based on London Inter-bank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) as a benchmark for establishing the rate of interest. LIBOR is the subject of national, international and other regulatory guidance and proposals for reform. In 2017, the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority (the "FCA"), which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to phase out LIBOR. On November 30, 2020, ICE Benchmark Administration, the administrator of LIBOR, with the support of the United States Federal Reserve and the FCA, announced plans to consult on ceasing publication of LIBOR on December 31, 2021 for only the one week and two month LIBOR tenors, and on June 30, 2023 for all other LIBOR tenors. While this announcement extends the transition period to June 2023, the United States Federal Reserve concurrently issued a statement advising banks to stop new LIBOR issuances by the end of 2021. In light of these recent announcements, the future of LIBOR at this time is uncertain and any changes in the methods by which LIBOR is determined or regulatory activity related to LIBOR’s phaseout could cause LIBOR to perform differently than in the past or cease to exist. The consequences of these developments cannot be entirely predicted, but could include an increase in the cost of our and Sirius XM Holdings' borrowings under our and its respective debt instruments.
The success of businesses attributed to each of our tracking stock groups, in part, depends on their popularity with audiences, which is difficult to predict.
Entertainment content production, satellite radio services and live entertainment events, including sporting events, are inherently risky businesses because the revenue derived from these businesses depends primarily upon their popularity
with public audiences, which is difficult to predict. The commercial success of a satellite radio program or live entertainment depends upon the quality and acceptance of competing programs, the availability of alternative forms of entertainment and leisure time activities, general economic conditions and other tangible and intangible factors, many of which are difficult to predict. In the case of ad-supported programming, events and satellite radio service, audience size is an important factor when advertising rates are negotiated. Audience size is also an important factor when determining ticket pricing for live entertainment events and the value of broadcast rights. Consequently, low public acceptance of the programs, services and events provided by companies such as Sirius XM Holdings, Braves Holdings, Live Nation and Formula 1 could hurt the ability of these companies to maintain or grow revenue, which would adversely impact the financial performance of the groups to which these companies are attributed.
Our businesses attributed to the Liberty SiriusXM Group and the Formula One Group, such as Sirius XM Holdings, Formula 1 and Live Nation, may not realize the benefits of acquisitions or other strategic investments and initiatives.
Our business strategy and that of our subsidiaries and business affiliates, including Sirius XM Holdings, Formula 1 and Live Nation, may include selective acquisitions, other strategic investments and initiatives that allow them to expand their business. The success of any acquisition depends upon effective integration and management of acquired businesses and assets into the acquirer’s operations, which is subject to risks and uncertainties, including the realization of the growth potential, any anticipated synergies and cost savings, the ability to retain and attract personnel, the diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns, and undisclosed or potential legal liabilities of acquired businesses or assets.
Weak economic conditions may reduce consumer demand for products, services and events offered by our businesses attributed to each of our groups.
A weak economy in the United States or, in the case of the Formula One Group, abroad, including as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic (as discussed below), could adversely affect demand for our products, services and events. A substantial portion of our revenue is derived from discretionary spending by individuals, which typically falls during times of economic instability. A reduction in discretionary spending could adversely affect revenue through potential downgrades by satellite radio subscribers and could overall affect subscriber churn, conversion rates and vehicle sales (in the case of Sirius XM Holdings) or reduced live-entertainment and sporting event expenditures (in the case of Live Nation, Braves Holdings and Formula 1). Accordingly, the ability of our businesses attributed to each of our groups to increase or maintain revenue and earnings could be adversely affected to the extent that relevant economic environments remain weak or decline further. We currently are unable to predict the extent of any of these potential adverse effects.
Our Company has overlapping directors and management with Qurate Retail, Inc. (“Qurate Retail”), Liberty Broadband Corporation (“Liberty Broadband”), Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc. (“TripCo”) and LMAC, which may lead to conflicting interests.
As a result of transactions between 2011 and 2018 that resulted in the separate corporate existence of our Company, Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband and TripCo, as well as the initial public offering of LMAC in January 2021, all of the executive officers of Liberty also serve as executive officers of Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband, TripCo and LMAC, and there are overlapping directors. Other than our ownership of LMAC’s sponsor, which beneficially owns 20% of LMAC’s outstanding common stock as of January 26, 2021, none of these companies has any ownership interest in any of the others. Our executive officers and members of our Company’s board of directors have fiduciary duties to our stockholders. Likewise, any such persons who serve in similar capacities at Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband, TripCo or LMAC have fiduciary duties to that company’s stockholders. For example, there may be the potential for a conflict of interest when our Company, Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband, TripCo or LMAC pursues acquisitions and other business opportunities that may be suitable for each of them. Therefore, such persons may have conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest with respect to matters involving or affecting more than one of the companies to which they owe fiduciary duties. Moreover, most of our Company’s directors and officers continue to own Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband and TripCo stock and options to purchase stock in those companies. These ownership interests could create, or appear to create, potential conflicts of interest when the applicable individuals are faced with decisions that could have different implications for our Company, Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband, TripCo and/or LMAC. Any potential conflict that qualifies as a “related party transaction” (as defined in Item 404 of Regulation S-K under the Securities Act of 1933,
as amended) is subject to review by an independent committee of the applicable issuer’s board of directors in accordance with its corporate governance guidelines. Each of Liberty Broadband, TripCo and LMAC has renounced its rights to certain business opportunities and its respective restated certificate of incorporation contains provisions deeming directors and officers not in breach of their fiduciary duties in certain cases for directing a corporate opportunity to another person or entity (including Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband, TripCo and LMAC) instead of such company. Any other potential conflicts that arise will be addressed on a case-by-case basis, keeping in mind the applicable fiduciary duties owed by the executive officers and directors of each issuer. From time to time, we may enter into transactions with Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband, TripCo, LMAC and/or their subsidiaries or other affiliates. There can be no assurance that the terms of any such transactions will be as favorable to our Company, Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband, TripCo, LMAC or any of their respective subsidiaries or affiliates as would be the case where there is no overlapping officer or director.
In addition, our Company has adopted a policy pursuant to which any business combination opportunity that is a corporate opportunity of our Company that may also be a business combination opportunity for LMAC will first be presented to a standing committee of our board of directors for consideration as to whether our Company desires to pursue such business combination opportunity as a direct investment or to present such opportunity to LMAC for consideration. John C. Malone, Chairman of the Board of our Company, is the sole member of that committee and will not serve in any fiduciary capacity at LMAC.
The unfavorable outcome of pending or future litigation could have a material adverse impact on the operations and financial condition of businesses attributed to each of our groups.
Our subsidiaries and business affiliates are parties to several legal proceedings arising out of various aspects of their businesses, including class actions arising out of their marketing practices. The outcome of these proceedings may not be favorable, and one or more unfavorable outcomes could have a material adverse impact on their financial condition, which can impact the financial performance of the group to which they are attributed.
Certain of our subsidiaries and business affiliates have operations outside of the United States that are subject to numerous operational risks.
Certain of our subsidiaries and business affiliates have operations in countries other than the United States. In many foreign countries, particularly in certain developing economies, it is not uncommon to encounter business practices that are prohibited by certain regulations, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and similar laws. Although certain of our subsidiaries and business affiliates have undertaken compliance efforts with respect to these laws, their respective employees, contractors and agents, as well as those companies to which they outsource certain of their business operations, may take actions in violation of their policies and procedures. Any such violation, even if prohibited by the policies and procedures of these subsidiaries and business affiliates or the law, could have certain adverse effects on the financial condition of these subsidiaries and business affiliates. Any failure by these subsidiaries and business affiliates to effectively manage the challenges associated with the international operation of their businesses could materially adversely affect their, and hence our, financial condition.
Our ability to use net operating loss, disallowed business interest and tax credit carryforwards to reduce future tax payments could be negatively impacted if there is an “ownership change,” as defined under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”) of our Company or Sirius XM Holdings.
At December 31, 2020, we had a deferred tax asset attributable to federal and state net operating losses, disallowed business interest carryforwards and tax credit carryforwards of $922 million (of which $745 million was recorded at the Sirius XM Holdings level) and, under the Code, we may carry forward our federal net operating losses, disallowed business interest deductions and tax credits in certain circumstances to offset current and future taxable income and reduce our federal income tax liability, subject to certain requirements and restrictions. If we (or Sirius XM Holdings) experience an “ownership change,” as defined in Section 382 of the Code and related Treasury regulations (generally, a cumulative change in ownership that exceeds 50% of the value of a corporation’s stock over a rolling three-year period) at a time when our (or Sirius XM Holdings’, as applicable) market capitalization is below a certain level or proposed Treasury regulations under Section 382 of the Code issued during 2019 have become final and are applicable (taking into account the delayed effective date of such regulations), our ability to use our federal net operating loss, disallowed business interest and tax
credit carryforwards could be substantially limited. This limit could impact the timing of the usage of our federal net operating loss, disallowed business interest and tax credit carryforwards, thus accelerating federal cash tax payments or causing certain federal net operating loss and tax credit carryforwards to expire prior to their use, which could affect the ultimate realization of that deferred tax asset. Similar limitations may also apply at the state level.
Risks Relating to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is adversely impacting Sirius XM Holdings’ business.
Sirius XM Holdings is monitoring and continues to assess the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on its businesses and operations. The scope of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its related economic impact on Sirius XM Holdings’ businesses depends on many factors beyond its control, and the effects are difficult to assess or predict with meaningful precision both generally and specifically as to its Sirius XM and Pandora businesses.
Sirius XM Holdings has taken actions to help ensure the continuity of its audio entertainment service through the COVID-19 pandemic, including activating its business continuity plans and implementing other steps to enable employees to work remotely. The impact of these steps on Sirius XM Holdings’ workforce has presented new challenges for its employees as they balance the demands of the pandemic with their daily operating responsibilities.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has created various uncertainties in Sirius XM Holdings’ business, including:
|●||Limits on its ability to fully staff its customer service operations and certain of its marketing efforts, particularly telemarketing;|
|●||Changes to its sales and marketing practices as Sirius XM Holdings reacts to shifts in the volume of auto sales and subscriber expectations, particularly in customer service and billing operations;|
|●||Possible increases in bad debts as the pandemic broadly affects employment and consumer spending;|
|●||The loss of sales and orders in its advertising business, particularly as industries that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic - such as the travel and travel-related industries - curtail and in many cases stop their advertising spending; and|
|●||Other consequences in its marketing, sales and other operations which Sirius XM Holdings has not yet identified.|
Importantly, the COVID-19 pandemic may have a material adverse effect on other third parties upon which Sirius XM Holdings relies, and its ability to assess those effects in any meaningful manner are difficult at this time. In addition, a number of third parties upon which Sirius XM Holdings depends may experience financial difficulties or file for bankruptcy protection. Such third parties may not be able to perform their obligations or may be relieved of their obligations to Sirius XM Holdings as part of the bankruptcy process, which in either case could adversely affect Sirius XM Holdings’ business.
Lastly, the negative impact on consumer spending in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic may, depending upon the severity, adversely affect several areas of its Sirius XM and Pandora businesses and may negatively impact Sirius XM Holdings’ operating results.
Formula 1, the Atlanta Braves and Live Nation have been, and will continue to be, materially impacted by COVID-19 and local, state and federal government actions taken in response, which will have a negative impact on our results of operations and financial condition.
The global spread of COVID-19 has prompted most local, state, federal and foreign governmental agencies to impose travel restrictions and local quarantines or stay at home restrictions to contain the spread. As a result, the business operations of Formula 1, the Atlanta Braves and Live Nation initially were largely, if not completely, suspended at the outset of COVID-19, and continue to be impacted. The first ten races of the 2020 Formula 1 season were either cancelled or postponed, and prior to late-July 2020, all MLB games were postponed, with a portion of spring training in 2020 for teams also having been cancelled. Braves Holdings’ Development Project, The Battery Atlanta, has also been affected due to the impacts of these restrictions on retail as well as restaurants, which had initially been limited to take-out and/or delivery service. Live Nation events have been severely impacted by COVID-19, with the vast majority of shows being postponed and the remainder cancelled with refunds issued. However, beginning in July 2020, both Formula 1 and MLB resumed races and games, respectively, although with no fan attendance. The Battery Atlanta has also seen the vast majority of businesses reopen as local quarantines and stay at home restrictions have lifted. However, ongoing or heightened resurgences of COVID-19 in the future or the occurrence of another disaster or crisis could recreate and/or exacerbate the risks and adverse impacts described. Formula 1 Events, MLB games and Live Nation events planned for the future may be cancelled or postponed, and it may not be possible to reschedule previously cancelled or postponed events. No revenue will be recognized from events that were not held and furthermore, if any events currently scheduled to be held are cancelled or postponed due to restrictions being re-implemented, no revenue will be recognized from those events, and it is unclear whether and to what extent certain of those events will be rescheduled.
There can be no assurance as to when the operations of Formula 1, the Atlanta Braves and Live Nation will resume as normal. There also cannot be any assurance as to when operations will resume or when they will resume in full or in a limited capacity due to continuing restrictions, including how long fans will be barred from attending events or whether they will be permitted to attend only in limited numbers. For example, it is possible that continuing concerns could cause professional sports teams in the U.S. to continue to play games without a live audience. Even if these restrictions are loosened or lifted in the near future, concerns about COVID-19 could deter fans from attending events or employees, vendors and other third parties from providing services for these events. In addition, even if these restrictions are loosened or lifted, there is no assurance that they will not be re-implemented as COVID-19 continues to spread.
As a result of the government mandates and possibility of continued concerns, these businesses are facing a potentially lengthy period of time in which they are unable to hold the same number of events, or hold events in the same manner, as they did in prior years due to the uncertainty around COVID-19. These businesses may be required to hold a smaller number of events than originally planned or may not be able to reschedule previously canceled or postponed events. In addition, these businesses may be precluded from holding events with fans in attendance for an undetermined period of time, thereby reducing any additional revenue associated with fan attendance. It is also unclear whether and to what extent COVID-19 concerns will impact the use of and/or demand for the entertainment, events and services provided by these businesses and demand for sponsorship and advertising assets, even after the restrictions are lifted. In many cases, the impact of cancelled events, closed venues and reduced attendance will substantially decrease our revenue. In many cases, we will not be able to reduce our expenses, to the same degree as our decline in revenue, which will adversely affect our results of operations and cash flow.
In addition, our businesses are particularly sensitive to reductions in travel and discretionary consumer spending. We cannot predict the time period over which our businesses will be impacted by COVID-19. Over the long-term, COVID-19 could impede economic activity in impacted regions or globally, causing a global recession, leading to a further decline in discretionary spending on sports and entertainment events and other leisure activities, which could result in long-term effects on our businesses.
Further, the extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our businesses remains fluid and the impact could increase, the longer the virus impacts activity levels in the locations in which our businesses operate. In particular, the widespread distribution, acceptance and effectiveness of vaccines is highly uncertain and cannot be predicted at this time. Delays in the widespread distribution of vaccines, or lack of public acceptance, could lead people to continue to self-isolate
and not participate in the economy at pre-pandemic levels for a prolonged period of time. Further, even if vaccines are widely distributed and accepted, there can be no assurance that the vaccines will ultimately be successful in limiting or stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Even after our businesses resume operations as normal there can be no assurances that fans attending events or vendors and employees working at our events will not contract COVID-19 in the course of attending or providing services. Any such occurrence could result in litigation, legal and other costs and reputational risk that could materially and adversely impact our businesses and results of operations. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, the U.S. economy may experience a recession, and we anticipate our businesses and operations could be materially adversely affected by a prolonged recession in the U.S.
For the reasons set forth above and other reasons that may come to light as the coronavirus outbreak and protective measures evolve, we cannot reasonably estimate the impact to our future revenue, results of operations, cash flows or financial condition, but such impacts have been and will continue to be significant and could have a material adverse effect on our business, revenue, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.
Risks Relating to the Liberty SiriusXM Group
Sirius XM Holdings faces substantial competition and that competition is likely to increase over time.
Sirius XM Holdings competes for the time and attention of its listeners with other content providers on the basis of a number of factors, including quality of experience, relevance, acceptance and perception of content quality, ease of use, price, accessibility, brand awareness, reputation and, in the case of its ad-supported Pandora service, perception of ad load, features and functionality. Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to attract and retain subscribers and listeners depends on its success in creating and providing popular or unique programming. A summary of certain services that compete with Sirius XM Holdings is contained in the section entitled “Item 1. Business-Competition” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Sirius XM Holdings’ subscribers and listeners can obtain similar content for free through terrestrial radio stations, YouTube and other internet services. Sirius XM Holdings also competes for the time and attention of its listeners with providers of other in-home and mobile entertainment services, and it competes for advertising sales with large scale online advertising platforms, such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, and with traditional media outlets.
Sirius XM Holdings’ streaming services also compete for listeners on the basis of the presence and visibility of its apps, which are distributed via app stores operated by Apple and Google. Sirius XM Holdings faces significant competition for listeners from these companies, which also promote their own music and content. In addition, Sirius XM Holdings’ competitors’ streaming products may be pre-loaded or integrated into consumer electronics products or automobiles, more broadly than Sirius XM Holdings’ streaming products, creating a visibility advantage. If Sirius XM Holdings is unable to compete successfully for listeners against other media providers, then its business may suffer. Additionally, the operator of an app store may reject Sirius XM Holdings’ app or amend the terms of their license in a way that inhibits Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to distribute its apps, negatively affects its business, or limits its ability to increase subscribers and listeners.
Competition could result in lower subscription, advertising or other revenue and an increase in Sirius XM Holdings’ expenses and, consequently, lower its earnings and free cash flow. Sirius XM Holdings cannot provide assurance that it will be able to compete successfully with its existing or future competitors or that competition will not have an adverse impact on its operations and financial condition.
If Sirius XM Holdings’ efforts to attract and retain subscribers and listeners, or convert listeners into subscribers, are not successful, its business will be adversely affected.
Sirius XM Holdings’ business will be adversely affected if it is unable to attract new subscribers and listeners and retain its current subscribers and listeners.
Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to increase the number of subscribers and listeners to its services, retain its subscribers and listeners or convert listeners into subscribers, is uncertain and subject to many factors, including:
|●||the price of Sirius XM Holdings’ service;|
|●||the ease of use of Sirius XM Holdings’ service;|
|●||the effectiveness of Sirius XM Holdings’ marketing programs;|
|●||with respect to its Sirius XM service, the sale or lease rate of new vehicles in the United States;|
|●||the rate at which Sirius XM Holdings’ self-pay subscribers to its Sirius XM service buy and sell new and used vehicles in the United States;|
|●||Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to convince owners and lessees of new and used vehicles that include satellite radios to purchase subscriptions to its Sirius XM service;|
|●||the perceived value of Sirius XM Holdings’ programming and the packages and services it offers;|
|●||Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to introduce features in a manner that is favorably received by its consumers;|
|●||Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to keep up with rapidly evolving technology and features in audio entertainment;|
|●||Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to respond to evolving consumer tastes; and|
|●||actions by Sirius XM Holdings’ competitors, such as Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and other audio entertainment and information providers.|
Sirius XM Holdings engages in extensive marketing efforts and the continued effectiveness of those efforts are an important part of its business.
Sirius XM Holdings engages in extensive marketing efforts across a broad range of media to attract and retain subscribers and listeners to its services. Sirius XM Holdings employs a wide variety of communications tools as part of its marketing campaigns, including telemarketing efforts and email solicitations. The effectiveness of its marketing efforts is affected by a broad range of factors, including creative and execution factors. Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to reach consumers with radio and television advertising, direct mail materials, email solicitations and telephone calls is an important part of its efforts and a significant factor in the effectiveness of its marketing. If Sirius XM Holdings is unable to reach consumers through email solicitations or telemarketing, including as a result of “spam” and email filters, call blocking technologies or “do-not-call” or other marketing regulations, its marketing efforts will be adversely affected. A decline in the effectiveness of its marketing efforts could have an adverse impact on its operations and financial condition.
Sirius XM Holdings relies on third parties for the operation of its business, and the failure of third parties to perform could adversely affect its business.
Sirius XM Holdings’ business depends, in part, on various third parties, including:
|●||manufacturers that build and distribute satellite radios;|
|●||companies that manufacture and sell integrated circuits for satellite radios;|
|●||third-party software that Sirius XM Holdings incorporates in and includes with its apps and service;|
|●||programming providers, including agreements with owners of various copyrights in music, and on-air talent;|
|●||vendors that operate its call centers;|
|●||vendors that have designed or built, and vendors that support or operate, other important elements of Sirius XM Holdings’ systems, including its satellites and “cloud”-based systems;|
|●||Apple, who distributes Sirius XM Holdings’ apps through its App Store and who, in the case of the Pandora service, Sirius XM Holdings relies on to collect fees and approve the terms of its consumer offers; and|
|●||Google, who distributes Sirius XM Holdings’ apps through its App Store and who Sirius XM Holdings, in the case of the Pandora service, relies on to collect fees and approve the terms of its consumer offers, and who plays an important role in the fulfillment of the ads Sirius XM Holdings sells on its Pandora platform.|
If one or more of these third parties do not perform in a satisfactory or timely manner, including complying with Sirius XM Holdings’ standards and practices relating to business integrity, personnel and cybersecurity, its business could be adversely affected.
The operation of Sirius XM Holdings’ apps and service offerings could be impaired if errors occur in the third party software that it uses. It is difficult for Sirius XM Holdings to correct any defects in third party software because the development and maintenance of the software is not within its control. Sirius XM Holdings’ third party licensors may not continue to make their software available to Sirius XM Holdings on acceptable terms, invest the appropriate levels of resources in their software to maintain and enhance its capabilities, or remain in business. Failure of these third-party licensors could harm Sirius XM Holdings’ streaming services.
In addition, a number of third parties on which Sirius XM Holdings depends have experienced, and may in the future experience, financial difficulties or file for bankruptcy protection. Such third parties may not be able to perform their obligations to Sirius XM Holdings in a timely manner, if at all, as a result of their financial condition or may be relieved of their obligations to Sirius XM Holdings as part of seeking bankruptcy protection.
Sirius XM Holdings may not realize the benefits of acquisitions or other strategic investments and initiatives.
Sirius XM Holdings’ strategy includes selective acquisitions, other strategic investments and initiatives that allow it to expand its business. The success of any acquisition depends upon effective integration, cultural assimilation and management of acquired businesses and assets into its operations, which is subject to risks and uncertainties, including realizing the growth potential, the anticipated synergies and cost savings, the ability to retain and attract personnel, the diversion of management’s attention for other business concerns, and undisclosed or potential legal liabilities of the acquired business or assets.
Sirius XM Holdings is devoting significant management attention and resources to integrate the businesses and operations of certain acquisitions. The integration process could result in the distraction of Sirius XM Holdings’ management, the disruption of its ongoing business or inconsistencies in Sirius XM Holdings’ services, standards, controls, procedures and policies, any of which could adversely affect its ability to maintain relationships with customers, vendors and employees or to achieve the anticipated benefits of the acquisition.
A substantial number of Sirius XM service subscribers periodically cancel their subscriptions and Sirius XM Holdings cannot predict how successful it will be at retaining customers.
As part of Sirius XM Holdings’ business, it experiences, and expects to experience in the future, subscriber turnover (i.e., churn). If Sirius XM Holdings is unable to retain current subscribers at expected rates, or the costs of retaining subscribers are higher than expected, its financial performance and operating results could be adversely affected.
Sirius XM Holdings cannot predict how successful it will be at retaining customers who purchase or lease vehicles that include a subscription to its Sirius XM service. A substantial percentage of Sirius XM subscribers are on discounted pricing plans and Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to retain these subscribers or migrate them to higher priced plans is uncertain. Sirius XM Holdings discounted pricing strategy is widely known, and this may interfere with its ability to collect its ordinary subscription prices. In addition, a substantial number of those subscribers periodically cancel their subscriptions when offered a subscription at a higher price.
Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to profitably attract and retain subscribers to its Sirius XM service as its marketing efforts reach more price-sensitive consumers is uncertain.
Sirius XM Holdings’ efforts to acquire subscribers purchasing or leasing used vehicles may attract price sensitive consumers. For example, consumers purchasing or leasing used vehicles may be more price sensitive than consumers purchasing or leasing new vehicles, may convert from trial subscribers to self-paying subscribers at a lower rate, and may cancel their subscriptions more frequently than consumers purchasing or leasing new vehicles. Some of Sirius XM Holdings’ marketing efforts may also attract more price sensitive subscribers; and its efforts to increase the penetration of satellite radios in new, lower-priced vehicle lines may result in the growth of more economy-minded subscribers. In addition, over time the changing demographics of Sirius XM Holdings’ subscriber base, such as the expected increase in “Millennial generation customers,” may increase the number of subscribers accustomed to consuming entertainment through ad-supported products. Each of these factors may harm Sirius XM Holdings’ revenue or require additional spending on marketing efforts to demonstrate the value of its Sirius XM service.
Sirius XM Holdings’ business depends in part upon the auto industry.
A substantial portion of the subscription growth for Sirius XM Holdings’ satellite radio service has come from purchasers and lessees of new and used automobiles in the United States, and Sirius XM Holdings expects this to be an important source of subscribers for its satellite radio service in the future.
Sirius XM Holdings has agreements with every major automaker to include satellite radios in new vehicles, although these agreements do not require automakers to install specific or minimum quantities of radios in any given period. Sirius XM Holdings’ business could be adversely affected if automakers do not continue to include its Sirius XM service in their products.
Automotive production and sales are dependent on many factors, including the availability of consumer credit, general economic conditions, consumer confidence and fuel costs. To the extent vehicle sales by automakers decline, or the penetration of factory-installed satellite radios in those vehicles is reduced, subscriber growth for Sirius XM Holdings’ satellite radio service may be adversely impacted.
Sales of used vehicles represent a significant source of new subscribers for Sirius XM Holdings’ satellite radio service. Sirius XM Holdings has agreements with auto dealers and companies operating in the used vehicle market to provide it with data on sales of used satellite radio enabled vehicles, including in many cases the consumer’s name and address. The continuing availability of this data is important to Sirius XM Holdings’ future growth, and the loss of such data may harm its revenue and business.
Failure of Sirius XM Holdings’ satellites would significantly damage its business.
The lives of the satellites required to operate the Sirius XM service vary depending on a number of factors, including:
|●||degradation and durability of solar panels;|
|●||quality of construction;|
|●||random failure of satellite components, which could result in significant damage to or loss of a satellite;|
|●||amount of fuel the satellite consumes; and|
|●||damage or destruction as a result of electrostatic storms, terrorist attacks, collisions with other objects in space or other events, such as nuclear detonations, occurring in space.|
In the ordinary course of operation, satellites experience failures of component parts and operational and performance anomalies. Components on several of Sirius XM Holdings’ in-orbit satellites have failed, and from time to time it has experienced anomalies in the operation and performance of these satellites. These failures and anomalies are
expected to continue in the ordinary course, and Sirius XM Holdings cannot predict if any of these possible future events will have a material adverse effect on its operations or the life of its existing in-orbit satellites. In addition, the Sirius network of terrestrial repeaters communicates with a single third-party satellite. The XM network of terrestrial repeaters communicates with a single XM satellite. If the satellites communicating with the applicable repeater network fail unexpectedly, the services would be disrupted for several hours or longer.
On December 13, 2020, Sirius XM Holdings’ SXM-7 satellite was successfully launched. In-orbit testing of SXM-7 began on January 4, 2021. During in-orbit testing of SXM-7, events occurred which have caused failures of certain SXM-7 payload units. An evaluation of SXM-7 is underway. The full extent of the damage to SXM-7 is not yet known. Sirius XM Holdings has purchased insurance policies covering SXM-7 through launch and the first year of in-orbit operation. The aggregate coverage under those insurance policies is $225 million. Sirius XM Holdings has notified the underwriters of these policies of a potential claim with respect to SXM-7.
Any material failure of Sirius XM Holdings’ operating satellites could cause it to lose customers for its Sirius XM service and could materially harm its reputation and its operating results. With the exception of the insurance Sirius XM Holdings has purchased covering the launch and the first year of in-orbit operation of SXM-7 and SXM-8, it does not have insurance for its in-orbit satellites. Additional information regarding Sirius XM Holdings’ fleet of satellites is contained in the section entitled “Item 1. Business— Sirius XM Holdings—Satellites, Terrestrial Repeaters and Other Satellite Facilities” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The Sirius XM service may experience harmful interference from wireless operations.
The development of applications and services in spectrum adjacent to the frequencies licensed to Sirius XM Holdings, as well as the combination of signals in other frequencies, may cause harmful interference to its satellite radio service in certain areas of the United States. Certain operations or combination of operations permitted by the FCC in spectrum, other than Sirius XM Holdings’ licensed frequencies, results in the loss of signal to its service, and the reception of its satellite radio service can be adversely affected in certain areas. Elimination of this interference may not be possible in all cases. In other cases, Sirius XM Holdings’ efforts to reduce this interference may require extensive engineering efforts and additions to its terrestrial infrastructure. These mitigation efforts may be costly and take several years to implement and may not be entirely effective. In certain cases, Sirius XM Holdings is dependent on the FCC to assist it in preventing harmful interference to its service.
Pandora’s ad-supported business has suffered a substantial and consistent loss of monthly active users, which may adversely affect its business.
The number of monthly active users to Sirius XM Holdings’ ad-supported Pandora business has declined consistently for several years, and may further contract in the future.
The size of Sirius XM Holdings’ ad-supported listener base is an important element of its Pandora business. The decline in Sirius XM Holdings’ listener base has resulted in fewer listener hours and available advertising spots on its Pandora service, which ultimately may result in declines in advertising revenue, and adversely affect its Pandora business. The contraction of Sirius XM Holdings’ ad-supported listener base also decreases the size of demographic groups targeted by advertisers, which may hurt Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to deliver advertising in a manner that maximizes advertisers’ return on investment and compete with other digital advertising platforms.
Sirius XM Holdings’ failure to convince advertisers of the benefits of its Pandora ad-supported service could harm its business.
Sirius XM Holdings derives substantial revenue on its Pandora service from the sale of advertising. Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to attract and retain advertisers, and ultimately to sell its advertising inventory, depends on a number of factors, including:
|●||the number of listener hours on the Pandora ad-supported service, particularly the number of listener hours attributable to high-value demographics;|
|●||keeping pace with changes in technology and its competitors, some of which have significant influence over the distribution of the Pandora app;|
|●||competing effectively for advertising with other dominant online services, such as Spotify, Google and Facebook, as well as other marketing and media outlets, some of which provide services to Sirius XM Holdings that it depends upon to fulfill the advertising it sells;|
|●||successfully competing for local radio advertising;|
|●||demonstrating the ability of advertisements to reach targeted audiences, including the value of mobile digital advertising;|
|●||ensuring that new ad formats and ad product offerings are attractive to advertisers and that inventory management decisions (such as changes to ad load, frequency, prominence and quality of ads that Sirius XM Holdings serves listeners) do not have a negative impact on listener hours; and|
|●||adapting to technologies designed to block the display of its ads.|
Sirius XM Holdings’ agreements with advertisers are generally short-term and may be terminated at any time by the advertiser. Advertisers may leave Sirius XM Holdings for competing alternatives at any time. Failure to demonstrate to advertisers the value of its Pandora service would result in reduced spending by, or loss of, advertisers, which would harm its revenue and business.
If Sirius XM Holdings is unable to maintain revenue growth from its advertising products, particularly in mobile advertising, its results of operations will be adversely affected.
In order to effectively monetize listener hours, Sirius XM Holdings must, among other things, convince advertisers to migrate spending to nascent advertising markets, penetrate local advertising markets and develop compelling ad product solutions.
The substantial majority of the total listening to the Pandora service occurs on mobile devices. Sirius XM Holdings is engaged in efforts to continue to convince advertisers of the capabilities and value of mobile digital advertising and to direct an increasing portion of their advertising spend to its ad-supported Pandora service.
Sirius XM Holdings is continuing to build its sales capability to penetrate local advertising markets, which places Sirius XM Holdings in competition with terrestrial radio. Sirius XM Holdings may not be able to capture an increasing share of local and audio advertising revenue, which may have an adverse impact on future revenue.
Changes to mobile operating systems and browsers may hinder Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to sell advertising and market its services.
Sirius XM Holdings uses shared common device identifiers that are universal in the advertising technology ecosystem, such as Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers, a random device identifier assigned by Apple to a user's device. Sirius XM Holdings uses these common device identifiers for targeting, advertising effectiveness and measurement for the Pandora’s advertising business and for Pandora’s consumer marketing purposes. These common device identifiers enable Sirius XM Holdings to match audiences, including with second- and third-party data providers and measurement vendors and enhance Pandora’s advertising targeting segments with additional data. In its programmatic advertising business, Sirius XM Holdings uses common identifiers for several important functions, such as targeting and bidding. Sirius XM Holdings also uses common device identifiers to evaluate the success of its Pandora brand consumer marketing campaigns.
Apple, as well as mobile operating system and browser providers have announced product features and plans that may adversely impact Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to use these common identifiers and data collected in connection with these common identifiers in its Pandora business.
If Sirius XM Holdings fails to accurately predict and play music, comedy or other content that its Pandora listeners enjoy, it may fail to retain existing and attract new listeners.
A key differentiating factor between the Pandora service and other music content providers is its ability to predict music that its listeners will enjoy. The effectiveness of Sirius XM Holdings’ personalized playlist generating system depends, in part, on its ability to gather and effectively analyze large amounts of listener data and feedback. Sirius XM Holdings has no assurance that it will continue to be successful in enticing listeners to its Pandora service to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to enough songs to effectively predict and select new and existing songs. In addition, Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to offer listeners songs that they have not previously heard and impart a sense of discovery depends on its ability to acquire and appropriately categorize additional tracks that will appeal to its listeners’ diverse and changing tastes. Many of Sirius XM Holdings’ competitors currently have larger music and content catalogs than it offers and they may be more effective in providing their listeners with an appealing listener experience.
Sirius XM Holdings also provides comedy and podcast content on its Pandora service, and it tries to predict what its listeners will enjoy using technology similar to the technology that it uses to generate personalized playlists for music. The risks that apply to Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to satisfy its listeners’ musical tastes apply to comedy, podcasts and other content to an even greater extent, particularly since Sirius XM Holdings does not yet have as large a data set on listener preferences for comedy, podcasts and other content, and have a smaller catalog of such content as compared to music.
Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to predict and select music, comedy, podcasts and other content that its listeners enjoy is important to the perceived value of its Pandora service to consumers and the failure to make accurate predictions would adversely affect its ability to attract and retain subscribers and listeners, increase listener hours and sell advertising.
Privacy and data security laws and regulations may hinder Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to market its services, sell advertising and impose legal liabilities.
Sirius XM Holdings receives a substantial amount of data on purchasers and lessees of new and used vehicles from third parties. Sirius XM Holdings uses this data to market its services. Sirius XM Holdings collects and uses demographic and other information, including location information, from and about its listeners through the internet. Further, Sirius XM Holdings and third parties use tracking technologies, including “cookies” and related technologies, to help it manage and track its listeners’ interactions with its services and deliver relevant advertising.
Various federal and state laws and regulations, as well as the laws of foreign jurisdictions, govern the collection, use, retention, sharing and security of the data Sirius XM Holdings receives. Privacy groups and government authorities have increasingly scrutinized the ways in which companies collect and share data, including linking personal identities and data associated with particular users or devices with data collected through the internet, and Sirius XM Holdings expects such scrutiny to increase. Alleged violations of laws and regulations relating to privacy and data may expose Sirius XM Holdings to potential liability, may require Sirius XM Holdings to expend significant resources in responding to and defending such allegations and claims and could in the future result in negative publicity and a loss of confidence in Sirius XM Holdings by its subscribers, listeners and advertisers.
Privacy-related laws and regulations, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act and the European General Data Protection Regulation, are evolving and subject to potentially differing interpretations. Various federal and state legislative and regulatory bodies as well as foreign legislative and regulatory bodies may expand current or enact new laws regarding privacy and data security-related matters. New laws, amendments to or re-interpretations of existing laws and contractual obligations, as well as changes in Sirius XM Holdings’ listeners’ expectations and demands regarding privacy and data security, may limit its ability to collect and use consumer data. Restrictions on Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to collect, access and harness listener data, or to use or disclose listener data or profiles that it develops using such data, could limit its ability to deliver personalized content to its listeners and offer targeted advertising opportunities to its advertising customers, each of which are important to the success of its business. Increased regulation of data utilization and distribution practices could increase Sirius XM Holdings’ costs of operation or otherwise adversely affect its business.
Consumer protection laws and Sirius XM Holdings’ failure to comply with them could damage its business.
Federal and state consumer protection laws, rules and regulations cover nearly all aspects of Sirius XM Holdings’ marketing efforts, including the content of its advertising, the terms of consumer offers and the manner in which it communicates with consumers. The nature of Sirius XM Holdings’ business requires it to expend significant resources to try to ensure that its marketing activities comply with consumer protection laws, including laws relating to telemarketing activities and privacy. These efforts may not be successful and Sirius XM Holdings may have to expend even greater resources in its compliance efforts.
Modifications to consumer protection laws, including decisions by courts and administrative agencies interpreting these laws, could have an adverse impact on Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to attract and retain subscribers and listeners to its services. There can be no assurance that new laws or regulations will not be enacted or adopted, preexisting laws or regulations will not be more strictly enforced or that its operations will comply with all applicable laws, which could have an adverse impact on its operations and financial condition.
Failure to comply with FCC requirements could damage Sirius XM Holdings’ business.
Sirius XM Holdings holds FCC licenses and authorizations to operate commercial satellite radio services in the United States, including satellites, terrestrial repeaters, and related authorizations. The FCC generally grants licenses and authorizations for a fixed term. Although Sirius XM Holdings expects its licenses and authorizations to be renewed in the ordinary course upon their expiration, there can be no assurance that this will be the case. Any assignment or transfer of control of any of Sirius XM Holdings’ FCC licenses or authorizations must be approved in advance by the FCC.
The operation of Sirius XM Holdings’ satellite radio systems is subject to significant regulation by the FCC under authority granted through the Communications Act of 1934 and related federal law. Sirius XM Holdings is required, among other things, to operate only within specified frequencies; to coordinate its satellite radio services with radio systems operating in the same range of frequencies in neighboring countries; and to coordinate its communications links to its satellites with other systems that operate in the same frequency band.
Noncompliance by Sirius XM Holdings with these requirements or other conditions or with other applicable FCC rules and regulations could result in fines, additional license conditions, license revocation or other detrimental FCC actions. There is no guarantee that Congress will not modify the statutory framework governing Sirius XM Holdings’ services, or that the FCC will not modify its rules and regulations in a manner that would have an adverse impact on Sirius XM Holdings’ operations.
If Sirius XM Holdings fails to protect the security of personal information about its customers, it could be subject to costly government enforcement actions and private litigation and its reputation could suffer.
The nature of Sirius XM Holdings’ business involves the receipt and storage of personal information about its subscribers and listeners including, in many cases, credit and debit card information. Sirius XM Holdings has a program in place to detect and respond to data security incidents. However, the techniques used to gain unauthorized access to data systems are constantly evolving and may be difficult to detect for long periods of time. Sirius XM Holdings may be unable to anticipate or prevent unauthorized access to data pertaining to its customers, including credit card and debit card information and other personally identifiable information. Sirius XM Holdings’ services, which are supported by its own systems and those of third-party vendors, are vulnerable to computer malware and attacks, any of which could lead to system interruptions, delays, or shutdowns, causing loss of critical data or the unauthorized access to personally identifiable information.
If Sirius XM Holdings fails to protect the security of personal information about its customers or if an actual or perceived breach of security occurs on its systems or a vendor’s systems, Sirius XM Holdings could be exposed to costly government enforcement actions and private litigation and its reputation could suffer. Sirius XM Holdings may also be required to expend significant resources to address these problems, including notification under various data privacy regulations, and its reputation and operating results could suffer. In addition, Sirius XM Holdings’ subscribers and listeners, as well as potential customers, could lose confidence in its ability to protect their personal information, which
could cause them to discontinue the use of Sirius XM Holdings’ services. This loss of confidence would also harm Sirius XM Holdings’ efforts to attract and retain advertisers, and unauthorized access to its programming would potentially create additional royalty expense with no corresponding revenue. Such events could adversely affect its results of operations. The costs of maintaining adequate protection, including insurance protection, against such threats as they develop in the future (or as legal requirements related to data security increase) could be material.
In addition, hardware, software, or applications Sirius XM Holdings develops or procures from third parties may contain defects in design or manufacture or other problems that could unexpectedly compromise information security. Unauthorized parties may also attempt to gain access to Sirius XM Holdings’ systems or facilities, or those of third parties with whom it does business, through fraud, trickery, or other forms of deceiving its employees, contractors or other agents. Sirius XM Holdings may not be able to effectively control the unauthorized actions of third parties who may have access to the data it collects.
Sirius XM Holdings may integrate the Pandora service with apps provided by third parties. In such case, Sirius XM Holdings may not be able to control such third parties’ use of listeners’ data, ensure their compliance with the terms of its privacy policies, or prevent unauthorized access to, or use or disclosure of, information, any of which could expose Sirius XM Holdings to potential liability and negative publicity and could cause its listeners and advertisers to discontinue use of its services.
To date, Sirius XM Holdings has not had a significant cyber-attack or breach that has had a material impact on its business or results of operations. Sirius XM Holdings has implemented systems and processes intended to secure its information technology systems and prevent unauthorized access to or loss of sensitive, confidential and personal data, including through the use of encryption and authentication technologies. Additionally, Sirius XM Holdings has increased its monitoring capabilities to enhance early detection and timely response to potential security anomalies.
The cyber security measures Sirius XM Holdings has implemented, however, may not be sufficient to prevent all possible attacks and may be vulnerable to hacking, employee error, malfeasance, system error, faulty password management or other irregularities. Further, the development and maintenance of these measures are costly and require ongoing monitoring and updating as technologies change and efforts to overcome security measures become increasingly sophisticated.
Interruption or failure of Sirius XM Holdings’ information technology and communications systems could impair the delivery of its service and harm its business.
Sirius XM Holdings relies on systems housed at its own premises and at those of third party vendors to enable subscribers and listeners to access its Pandora and Sirius XM services in a dependable and efficient manner. Any degradation in the quality, or any failure, of Sirius XM Holdings’ systems could reduce its revenue, cause it to lose customers and damage its brands. Although Sirius XM Holdings has implemented practices designed to maintain the availability of the information technology systems it relies on and mitigate the harm of any unplanned interruptions, Sirius XM Holdings cannot anticipate all eventualities. Sirius XM Holdings occasionally experience unplanned outages or technical difficulties. Sirius XM Holdings could also experience loss of data or processing capabilities, which could cause it to lose customers and could harm its reputation and operating results.
Sirius XM Holdings relies on internal systems and external systems maintained by manufacturers, distributors and service providers to take, fulfill and handle customer service requests and host certain online activities. Any interruption or failure of Sirius XM Holdings’ internal or external systems could prevent it from servicing customers or cause data to be unintentionally disclosed. Sirius XM Holdings’ services have experienced, and are expected to continue to experience, periodic service interruptions and delays involving its own systems and those of its third-party vendors.
Sirius XM Holdings’ data centers and its information technology and communications systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from natural disasters, malicious attacks, fire, power loss, telecommunications failures, computer viruses or other attempts to harm its systems. The occurrence of any of these events could result in interruptions in Sirius XM Holdings’ services and to unauthorized access to, or alteration of, the content and data contained on its systems and that these third-party vendors store and deliver on its behalf.
Damage or interruption to Sirius XM Holdings’ data centers and information technology and communications centers could expose it to data loss or manipulation, disruption of service, monetary and reputational damages, competitive disadvantage and significant increases in compliance costs and costs to improve the security and resiliency of its computer systems. The compromise of personal, confidential or proprietary information could also subject Sirius XM Holdings to legal liability or regulatory action under evolving cybersecurity, data protection and privacy laws and regulations enacted by the U.S. federal and state governments or other foreign jurisdictions or by various regulatory organizations. As a result, Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to conduct its business and its results of operations might be adversely affected.
The market for music rights is changing and is subject to significant uncertainties.
Sirius XM Holdings must maintain music programming royalty arrangements with, and pay license fees to, owners of rights in musical works in order to operate its services. Traditionally, BMI, ASCAP and SESAC have negotiated for these copyright users, collected royalties and distributed them to songwriters and music publishers. These traditional arrangements are changing. The fracturing of the traditional system for licensing rights in musical works may have significant consequences to Sirius XM Holdings’ business, including increasing licensing costs and reducing the availability of certain pieces for use on its services.
Under the Copyright Act, Sirius XM Holdings also must pay royalties to copyright owners of sound recordings for the performance of such sound recordings on its Sirius XM service. Those royalty rates may be established through negotiation or, if negotiation is unsuccessful, by the Copyright Royalty Board. Owners of copyrights in sound recordings have created SoundExchange, a collective organization, to collect and distribute royalties. SoundExchange is exempt by statute from certain U.S. antitrust laws and exercises significant market power in the licensing of sound recordings. Under the terms of the Copyright Royalty Board’s existing decision governing sound recording royalties for satellite radio, Sirius XM Holdings is required to pay a royalty based on its gross revenue associated with its satellite radio service, subject to certain exclusions, of 15.5% per year for each of the next seven years.
Pandora’s services depend upon maintaining complex licenses with copyright owners, and these licenses contain onerous terms.
Pandora has direct license agreements with many sound recording copyright and musical work copyright owners. These agreements grant Sirius XM Holdings the right to operate Pandora Premium, and add interactive features, such as replays, additional skips and offline play, to Pandora’s ad-supported service and to Pandora Plus.
The economic terms of these direct licenses are onerous and, as a result, Sirius XM Holdings may not be able to profitably operate the Pandora services. However, the economic terms of these direct licenses may be “market,” given the rates paid by Pandora’s competitors. Competition for Pandora’s services are primarily offered by entities that provide music and entertainment services as a small part of a larger business, such as Apple, Google and Amazon. These competitors have the ability to bear these onerous economic provisions to a much greater extent than the Pandora business. Sirius XM Holdings may not be able to negotiate or obtain lower royalty rates under these direct licenses.
These direct licenses are complex. Sirius XM Holdings may not be in compliance with the terms of these licenses, which could result in the loss of some or all of these licenses and some or all of the rights they convey. Similarly, many of these licenses provide that if the licensor loses rights in a portion of the content licensed under the agreement, that content may be removed from the license going-forward.
If Pandora fails to maintain these direct licenses, or if rights to certain music were no longer available under these licenses, then Sirius XM Holdings may have to remove the affected music from Pandora’s services, or discontinue certain interactive features for such music, and it might become commercially impractical for Sirius XM Holdings to operate Pandora Premium, Pandora Plus or certain features of its advertising supported service. Any of these occurrences could have an adverse effect on Sirius XM Holdings’ business, financial condition and results of operations.
Several of these direct licenses also include provisions related to the terms of those agreements relative to other content licensing arrangements, which are commonly referred to as “most favored nation” clauses. These provisions have caused, and may in the future cause, Sirius XM Holdings’ payments under those agreements to escalate substantially. In
addition, many record labels, music publishers and performing rights organizations have the right to audit Sirius XM’s royalty payments, and audits often result in disputes over whether it has paid the proper amounts. As a result of such audits, Sirius XM Holdings could be required to pay additional amounts, audit fees and interest or penalties, and the amounts involved could adversely affect its business, financial condition and results of operations.
There is no guarantee that these direct licenses will be renewed in the future or that such licenses will be available on the economic terms associated with the current licenses. If Sirius XM Holdings is unable to secure and maintain direct licenses for the rights to provide music on its Pandora services on terms similar to those under its current direct licenses, Sirius XM Holdings’ content costs could rise and adversely affect its business, financial condition and results of operations.
The rates Sirius XM Holdings must pay for “mechanical rights” to use musical works on its Pandora service have increased substantially and these rates may adversely affect its business.
Pandora has direct licenses with thousands of music publishers. Those licenses provide that the royalty rate for “reproduction rights” or “mechanical rights”, which are required to offer the interactive features of its Pandora services, are determined by the rate formula set by the Copyright Royalty Board for the compulsory license made available by Section 115 of the Copyright Act. These royalty rates also apply to Pandora’s use of musical works for which Sirius XM Holdings does not have a direct license with the copyright owners.
The Copyright Royalty Board has issued a rate formula for the period from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2022. Pursuant to that decision, the rate that Sirius XM Holdings expected to pay to music publishers and songwriters for the mechanical rights and performance rights needed in connection with interactive streaming would have increased annually between 2018 and 2022. On August 11, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that the CRB failed to provide adequate notice of the rate structure it adopted, failed to explain its rejection of a past settlement agreement as a benchmark for going forward, and never identified the source of its asserted authority to substantively redefine a material term of its initial determination. For these reasons, the Court of Appeals overturned the CRB’s adopted rate structure and percentage rates and remanded the proceeding to the CRB for further proceedings. The CRB has announced further proceedings to consider and address the Court of Appeals’ decision.
Sirius XM Holdings’ use of pre-1972 sound recordings on its Pandora service could result in additional costs.
Federal copyright protection previously did not apply to sound recordings created prior to February 15, 1972. The protection of such recordings was instead governed by a patchwork of state statutory and common laws. Copyright owners of pre-1972 sound recordings have brought litigation against Pandora, alleging violations of state statutory and common laws arising from the reproduction and public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings.
If Pandora is found liable for the violation of the exclusive rights of any pre-1972 sound recording copyright owners, then it could be subject to liability, the amount of which could be significant.
Failure to protect Sirius XM Holdings’ intellectual property or actions by third-parties to enforce their intellectual property rights could substantially harm its business and operating results.