Inside Move: Stern may Spike TV plans

Shockjock might move from E!

Everyone knows that Howard Stern is moving to Sirius next year, but the big question now is: Where will his TV show go?

Stern’s contract with E! — the skein’s home since 1994 — expires in the next few months, and buzz among industry insiders is that the shockjock is negotiating to take his TV series over to another cabler in time for the premiere of his Sirius satellite radio show in 2006.

The outlet that would seemingly make the most sense for Stern is men’s cabler Spike. And, indeed, numerous industry insiders say there have been some early talks between the net and Stern’s camp. E! produces 250 original episodes per year of “The Howard Stern Show,” a video broadcast from his studio.

Other insiders say HBO may be in the market to pick up future episodes, but sources familiar with the matter say the frontrunner is Spike. Biggest stumbling block would most likely be coin, since Stern generally doesn’t work cheap.

As for timing, Stern’s preference is to stick with E! for the remainder of the year — and he’s in talks with E! execs to do so. After that, all signs point to him moving to a new home.

Reps for Stern declined to return calls, while Spike, E! and HBO declined comment.

Snagging Stern makes sense for Spike, where Stern has already set up the 13-episode animated series “Howard Stern: The High School Years” for next year (Daily Variety, Aug. 18). With both the cartoon and televised radio show at Spike, move would also, ironically, keep Stern firmly ensconced in the Viacom family.

In October Stern announced that he was exiting Viacom-owned Infinity Broadcasting, having been offered a $500 million five-year deal to go to Sirius — jumping ship amid a Washington-led crackdown on indecency that saw Stern rack up $1.75 million in indecency infractions for Infinity.

“Stern” would also help Spike more quickly recover from the loss of World Wrestling Entertainment — cabler’s biggest ratings draw — which is slated to move to USA this September. Skein would also serve as a nice antidote to “CSI” repeats, which pull in big numbers but skew heavily female. Year-to-date, “Howard Stern” grabs 69% men to 31% women in adults 18-49.

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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