What Is Liberty's Endgame With Sirius? Finally, Some Elaboration

John Malone is one of the great sharks of the media world, and so when he loaned Sirius XM $530 million earlier this month, no one thought it was some act of charity. But his exact motivations weren’t clear. On the earnings call today, Liberty Media’s CEO Greg Maffei addressed the question with surprising candor. He said Liberty isn’t just in it for the terms on the loan (as sweet as they are for Liberty) — rather, the company thinks that Sirius (NSDQ: SIRI) and DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) can actually benefit each other.

Maffei sees growth potential in Sirius, particularly if it can renegotiate its contracts with the auto companies and content owners at better terms. He noted that the current agreements were inked when XM was competing for the same contracts, so terms were likely worse than they would be today.

— Maffei also said there were lots of cross-promotional opportunities between Sirius and DirecTV, not necessarily to combine packages, but to promote each other’s services to their respective large audiences.

— As for using the Sirius satellites and repeaters on the ground for sexier services like internet and mobile video, Maffei said he would love to be able to use Sirius technology for such services, but that it was very far down the road and that it may never come to fruition.

Of course, Maffei was careful to point out if all these plans bomb out, Liberty Media (NSDQ: LINTA) still has that nice 15 percent return on its loan that it can feast on..