Howard Stern conducted an amazing interview with Lady Gaga this week but, for the first time in years, there's absolutely no way to watch it on television. This past September, Howard TV – a cable on-demand service that launched in 2006 – very quietly stopped airing new content. It ends completely on December 16th.
Although it never got much media attention, Howard TV was a pretty amazing channel. It aired unedited, uncensored, commercial-free video from Howard's interviews, even though some segments (like the small penis contest and Richard Christie drinking beer out of his anus) would have been a little less gag-inducing with a little bit of censorship. They also made wonderful mini-documentaries about members of the Wack Pack (the home visit with Wendy the Retard was particularly inspired) and Q&As with members of the entire staff.
Its absence leaves a huge void in the Stern universe, though there's word that some sort of new television deal will be announced in the future. Here are four scenarios for the future of The Howard Stern Show on television:
Launch a new streaming service.
Hulu, Netflix and Amazon have become major players since Howard TV launched. Many people have "cut the cord" and no longer have cable, and Howard TV was never an option for people with satellite dishes or digital antennas. A new online streaming service would make Howard TV available to a much wider audience. This move would allow the show to continue uncensored without any time restrictions, and he wouldn't have to split the money with anyone.
Bring it back to cable.
The Howard Stern Show appeared on E! from 1994 through 2005. This played a huge role in expanding Howard's national audience. The Howard Stern Show has been behind the Sirius XM and In Demand paywall since 2006, and one imagines that Howard would love to reach a wider audience. A new cable channel like FXX would probably love to air Howard's show, and would probably put it on five nights a week. Their expenses would be minimal since the studio and staff already exists. This would mean the content would be heavily edited, commercials would be added and there would be little room for the behind-the-scenes footage that's become a huge part of Howard TV. Still, Stern might accept such limitations for the opportunity to reach new fans.
Start a new cable channel.
This is, obviously, a wild leap since creating a cable channel from the ground up has proven difficult even for Oprah Winfrey, but there are thousands of hours of filmed Howard Stern shows. An entire cable channel build around this archive would probably find a big audience, but it would be an enormous expense and it's surprisingly hard to get cable companies to add new stations. Al Jazeera has insanely deep pockets and global resources, and they still had to wildly overpay Al Gore to make this happen.
Partner with an existing online service.
We can easily see a service like Hulu or Netflix leaping at the chance to host The Howard Stern Show. They could charge an extra $13 or so a month for access to Howard Stern. The huge success of House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black proves this is the future of television. This move would mean that Stern doesn't need to go through the hassle of starting a web service from the ground up. If we had to bet on one scenario, it's probably this one – though anything seems possible at this point. We certainly didn't see America's Got Talent coming.