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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 28, 2019, was approximately $
The number of outstanding shares of Liberty Media Corporation’s common stock as of January 31, 2020 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 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders is hereby incorporated by reference into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
LIBERTY MEDIA CORPORATION
2019 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 (defined below), Formula 1, Braves Holdings, LLC (“Braves Holdings”) and our equity affiliate Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (“Live Nation”).
As of January 18, 2013, the Company and its subsidiaries held more than 50% of the capital stock of Sirius XM Radio, Inc. (now known as Sirius XM Holdings Inc., “Sirius XM Holdings”) entitled to vote. Therefore, Liberty began consolidating Sirius XM Holdings in the first quarter of 2013. On February 1, 2019, Sirius XM Holdings issued shares of Sirius XM Holdings common stock in conjunction with its acquisition of Pandora Media, Inc., which continues to operate as Pandora Media, LLC (“Pandora”). Sirius XM Holdings, since the date of our investment, has repurchased approximately 3.0 billion Sirius XM Holdings shares for approximately $12.8 billion. As of December 31, 2019, we owned approximately 72% of the outstanding equity interest in Sirius XM Holdings.
On November 4, 2014, Liberty completed the spin-off to its stockholders of common stock of a newly formed company called Liberty Broadband Corporation (“Liberty Broadband”) (the “Broadband Spin-Off”). At the time of the Broadband Spin-Off, Liberty Broadband was comprised of, among other things, (i) Liberty’s former interest in Charter Communications, Inc., (ii) Liberty’s former subsidiary TruePosition, Inc., (iii) Liberty’s former minority equity investment in Time Warner Cable, Inc. (“Time Warner Cable”), (iv) certain deferred tax liabilities, as well as liabilities related to Time Warner Cable call options and (v) indebtedness, pursuant to margin loans, entered into prior to the completion of the Broadband Spin-Off. In September 2015, Liberty entered into a closing agreement with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) which provided that the Broadband Spin-Off qualified for tax-free treatment.
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 and the newly issued shares commenced trading or quotation in the regular way on the Nasdaq Global Select Market or the OTC Markets, as applicable, on April 18, 2016. In May 2016, the IRS completed its review of the Recapitalization and notified Liberty that it agreed with the nontaxable characterization of the transaction.
In the Recapitalization, each issued and outstanding share of Liberty’s existing common stock was reclassified and exchanged for (a) 1 share of the corresponding series of Liberty SiriusXM common stock, (b) 0.1 of a share of the corresponding series of Liberty Braves common stock and (c) 0.25 of a share of the corresponding series of Liberty Media common stock on April 15, 2016. Cash was paid in lieu of the issuance of any fractional shares.
Following the creation of the tracking stocks, Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty SiriusXM common stock trade under the symbols LSXMA/B/K, respectively; Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty Braves common stock trade or are quoted under the symbols BATRA/B/K respectively; and Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty Media common stock traded or were quoted under the symbols LMCA/B/K, respectively. Shortly following the Second Closing (as defined below), the Liberty Media Group and Liberty Media common stock were renamed the Liberty Formula One Group (the “Formula One Group”) and the Liberty Formula One common stock, respectively, and the corresponding ticker symbols for the Series A, Series B and Series C Liberty Media common stock were changed to FWONA/B/K, respectively. Each series (Series A, Series B and Series C) of the Liberty SiriusXM common stock trades on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Series A and Series C Liberty Braves common stock trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Stock Market and Series B Liberty Braves common stock is quoted on the OTC Markets. Series A and Series C Liberty Formula One common stock trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and the Series B Liberty Formula One common stock is quoted on the OTC Markets. Although the Second Closing (as defined below), and the corresponding tracking stock name and the ticker symbol change,
were not completed until January 23 and January 24, 2017, respectively, historical information of the Liberty Media Group and Liberty Media common stock is referred to herein as the Formula One Group and Liberty Formula One common stock, respectively.
In addition, following the creation of the new tracking stocks, Liberty distributed to holders of its Liberty Braves common stock subscription rights to acquire shares of Series C Liberty Braves common stock in order to raise capital to repay an intergroup note and for working capital purposes. The rights offering commenced on May 18, 2016, which was also the ex-dividend date for the distribution of the Series C Liberty Braves subscription rights. The rights offering expired on June 16, 2016 and was fully subscribed with 15,833,634 shares of Series C Liberty Braves common stock issued to those rightsholders exercising basic and, if applicable, oversubscription privileges. In September 2016, the IRS completed its review of the distribution of the Series C Liberty Braves subscription rights and notified Liberty that it agreed with the nontaxable characterization of the distribution.
On September 7, 2016, Liberty, through its indirect wholly owned subsidiary Liberty GR Cayman Acquisition Company, entered into two definitive stock purchase agreements relating to the acquisition of Delta Topco Limited (“Delta Topco”), the parent company of Formula 1. The transactions contemplated by the first purchase agreement were completed on September 7, 2016, resulting in the acquisition of slightly less than a 20% minority stake in Formula 1 on an undiluted basis. On October 27, 2016 under the terms of the first purchase agreement, Liberty acquired an additional incremental equity interest in Delta Topco, maintaining Liberty’s investment in Delta Topco on an undiluted basis and increasing slightly to 19.1% on a fully diluted basis. Liberty acquired 100% of the fully diluted equity interests of Delta Topco, other than a nominal number of shares held by certain Formula 1 teams, in a closing under the second purchase agreement (and following the unwind of the first purchase agreement) on January 23, 2017 (the “Second Closing”). Liberty’s interest in Delta Topco and by extension, in Formula 1, along with existing Formula 1 cash and debt (which are non-recourse to Liberty), are attributed to the Formula One Group.
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 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, Formula 1 or Live Nation, in which Liberty holds an interest and that is attributed to a Liberty tracking stock group, such as the Liberty SiriusXM Group or the Formula One 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.
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: Liberty’s subsidiary Sirius XM Holdings, corporate cash, Liberty’s 2.125% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2048, Liberty’s 2.75% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2049 and a margin loan obligation incurred by a wholly-owned special purpose subsidiary of Liberty. 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. See note 5 to the accompanying consolidated financial statements for more information regarding the acquisition of Pandora. The Formula One Group holds an intergroup interest in the Liberty SiriusXM Group.
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: 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 Formula One Group holds an intergroup interest in the Braves Group.
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 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 interests in Formula 1 and Live Nation, cash, intergroup interests in the Liberty SiriusXM Group and the Braves Group, Liberty’s 1.375% Cash Convertible Notes due 2023 and related financial instruments, Liberty’s 1% Cash Convertible Notes due 2023, Liberty’s 2.25% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2046 and Liberty’s 2.25% Exchangeable Senior Debentures due 2048. As part of the Recapitalization, the Formula One Group initially held a 20% intergroup interest in the Braves Group. As a result of the rights offering, 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. The intergroup interests represent quasi-equity interests which are not represented by outstanding shares of common stock; rather, the Formula One Group has attributed interests in the Braves Group and the Liberty SiriusXM Group which are generally stated in terms of a number of shares of Series C Liberty Braves common stock and Series C Liberty SiriusXM common stock, respectively, issuable to the Formula One Group with respect to its interests in the Braves Group and Liberty SiriusXM Group, respectively. The intergroup interests may be settled, at the discretion of the board of directors, through the transfer of newly issued shares of Liberty Braves common stock and Liberty SiriusXM common stock, respectively, cash and/or other assets to the Formula One Group. The intergroup interests will remain outstanding until the cancellation of the outstanding interests, at the discretion of the Company’s board of directors, through transfer of securities, cash and/or other assets from the Braves Group or the Liberty SiriusXM Group, respectively, to the Formula One Group.
* * * * *
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; 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 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 that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those anticipated:
|●||consumer demand for our products and services and our ability to adapt to changes in demand;|
|●||competitor responses to our businesses’ products and services;|
|●||uncertainties inherent in the development and integration of new business lines and business strategies;|
|●||uncertainties associated with product and service development and market acceptance, including the development and provision of programming for satellite radio and telecommunications technologies;|
|●||our businesses’ significant dependence upon automakers;|
|●||our businesses’ ability to attract and retain subscribers in the future is uncertain;|
|●||our future financial performance, including availability, terms and deployment of capital;|
|●||our ability to successfully integrate and recognize anticipated efficiencies and benefits from the businesses we acquire;|
|●||the ability of suppliers and vendors to deliver products, equipment, software and services;|
|●||interruption or failure of our information technology and communication systems, including the failure of Sirius XM Holdings’ satellites, could negatively impact our results and brand;|
|●||royalties for music rights have increased and may continue to do so in the future;|
|●||the integration of Pandora by Sirius XM Holdings and the impact of the acquisition on Sirius XM Holdings’ expected results of operations and financial condition;|
|●||the outcome of any pending or threatened litigation or investigation;|
|●||availability of qualified personnel;|
|●||changes in, or failure or inability to comply with, government regulations, including, without limitation, regulations of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and consumer protection laws, and adverse outcomes from regulatory proceedings;|
|●||changes in the nature of key strategic relationships with partners, vendors and joint venturers;|
|●||general economic and business conditions and industry trends;|
|●||consumer spending levels, including the availability and amount of individual consumer debt;|
|●||rapid technological changes;|
|●||impairments of third-party intellectual property rights;|
|●||our indebtedness and its impact on the ability of our subsidiaries to react to changes in the economy or our industry;|
|●||our businesses’ ability to protect the security of personal information about their customers;|
|●||the regulatory and competitive environment of the industries in which we, and the entities in which we have interests, operate; and|
|●||threatened terrorist attacks, political unrest in international markets and ongoing military action around the world.|
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.
Narrative 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
Sirius XM Holdings operates two complementary audio entertainment businesses, Sirius XM and Pandora.
Sirius XM features music, sports, entertainment, comedy, talk, news, traffic and weather channels, as well as infotainment services, in the United States on a subscription fee basis. 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, 2019, Sirius XM had approximately 35 million subscribers.
In addition to Sirius XM’s audio entertainment businesses, it provides connected vehicle services to several automakers and directly to consumers through aftermarket devices. 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 discovery 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 an ad-supported radio service, a radio subscription service, called Pandora Plus, and an on-demand subscription service, called Pandora Premium. As of December 31, 2019, Pandora had approximately 6.2 million subscribers.
The majority of Pandora’s listener hours occur on mobile devices, with the majority of its revenue generated from advertising on its ad-supported radio service on these devices. With billions of data points that help it understand users' preferences, Pandora offers both local and national advertisers the opportunity to deliver targeted messages to listeners using a combination of audio, display and video advertisements. In addition, through AdsWizz Inc. (“AdsWizz”), a
Pandora subsidiary, Pandora provides a comprehensive digital audio advertising technology platform, which connects audio publishers and advertisers. As of December 31, 2019, Pandora had approximately 63.5 million monthly active users.
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 and entertainment 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 line-ups for its services are available at siriusxm.com.
Streaming Service. Sirius XM’s streaming service includes a variety of music and non-music channels and podcasts as well as channels that are not available on its satellite radio service. 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 a rich offering of video content, including video from The Howard Stern Show and memorable performances and interviews from Sirius XM’s archives, including in-studio performances and behind-the-scenes moments with artists, personalities and newsmakers. SiriusXM On Demand offers its streaming subscribers the ability to choose their favorite episodes from a catalog of content whenever they want 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 Sirius XM’s Select and All Access packages. The Personalized Stations Powered by Pandora, which allows subscribers to create their own customized commercial-free music station within the Sirius XM app, feature 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.
In 2019, Sirius XM also entered into agreements to increase the distribution and ease of use of its streaming service, including through connected devices and smart speakers. Sirius XM entered into a marketing agreement with Amazon to distribute their Echo smart speakers with Sirius XM’s streaming service. Sirius XM entered into an agreement with Google to distribute the Google Home Hub with a subscription to Sirius XM’s streaming services. 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 user interface, which it calls “360L,” combines Sirius XM’s satellite and streaming services into a single, cohesive in-vehicle entertainment experience. Sirius XM’s 360L interface has been deployed in certain Dodge and General Motors (“GM”) vehicles and is in the process of being introduced by several other automakers. 360L allows Sirius XM to take advantage of advanced in-dash infotainment systems. 360L is intended to leverage the ubiquitous signal coverage of Sirius XM’s satellite infrastructure and low delivery costs 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 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 important 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 or dealer-installed option 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 market subscriptions to purchasers and lessees 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 five orbiting geostationary satellites, two in the Sirius system, FM-5 and FM-6, and three in the XM system, XM-3, XM-4 and XM-5. 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 new satellites, SXM-7 and SXM-8, which it plans to launch into geostationary orbits in 2020 as replacements for XM-3 and XM-4.
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 in orbit. Sirius XM does not have insurance policies covering its 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 is planning to 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 based in New York City.
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 and directly to consumers through aftermarket devices. 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.
Through its subsidiary, Automatic Labs Inc. ("Automatic"), Sirius XM offers a service for consumers and auto dealers. By pairing Automatic's install-it-yourself adapter and mobile application, many older vehicles can be transformed into connected vehicles. Using the Automatic service, drivers have access to various services, such as crash alerts, roadside assistance, vehicle location monitoring and sharing, vehicle health and performance monitoring, and recall notifications and service reminders. Auto dealers can also employ the Automatic service to, among other things, assist in managing vehicle inventory, monitoring the status of vehicles and delivering notifications and reminders to purchasers and lessees of vehicles. The Automatic adapter collects detailed information about each vehicle's geolocation, use, operation, performance and maintenance status in order to operate, maintain, and provide the features and functionality of the Automatic service.
Subscribers to Sirius XM’s connected vehicle services are not included in its subscriber count or subscriber-based operating metrics.
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, and subscribers to the DISH Network satellite television service are not included in its subscriber count. 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, 2019, Sirius XM Canada had approximately 2.7 million subscribers. Sirius XM Canada’s subscribers are not included in Sirius XM’s subscriber count or subscriber-based operating metrics.
The Pandora Business
On February 1, 2019, through a series of transactions, Pandora became an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Sirius XM Holdings (the “Pandora Acquisition”). See note 5 to the accompanying consolidated financial statements for information regarding the Pandora Acquisition.
Streaming Radio and On-Demand Music Services
Pandora offers a personalized music discovery platform for each listener. Subscribers are able to create personalized stations and playlists and search and play songs and albums on-demand. The Pandora service utilizes content programing algorithms and data collected from listeners - called 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 through Pandora’s mobile device applications for smartphones, mobile operating systems and tablets. The mobile applications are free to download. The Pandora service is also available in most major automaker’s vehicles in the United States which allow for smartphone connectivity. Certain automakers now provide embedded streaming connectivity which 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, including Sonos, Fitbit, Roku, Google Home, Amazon Echo, Comcast Xfinity, Apple TV and Microsoft Xbox.
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.
Ad-Supported Radio Service
Pandora offers an ad-supported radio service which allows listeners to access its catalog of music, comedy, livestreams and podcasts through personalized stations. This service is free across all platforms and uses the Music Genome Project to generate stations specific to each listener. Each listener can personalize his or her stations by adding variety to the content and renaming the stations.
Listeners of the ad-supported service are provided with the option to temporarily access on-demand listening which includes 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, higher quality audio on supported devices and longer timeout-free listening. 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, 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 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. 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 an agreement to sell the available advertising inventory in the United States for SoundCloud, one of the world’s largest open audio platform, powered by a connected community of creators, listeners, and curators. Advertising on Pandora platforms provides advertisers with the ability to target and connect with listeners based on various criteria including age, gender, geographic location and content preferences.
Through its AdsWizz subsidiary, Pandora is a global 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.
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, have been traditionally represented by performing rights organizations such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (“ASCAP”), Broadcast Music, Inc. (“BMI”) and SESAC, Inc. (“SESAC”). However, some songwriters and music publishers have withdrawn from the traditional performing rights organizations, particularly ASCAP and BMI, and new entities, such as Global Music Rights LLC (“GMR”), have been formed to represent rights holders. 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; 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 United States 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 12.3% of revenue or 23.1% of record label payments in 2019, and in 2020, the rate is 13.3% of revenue or 24.1% of record label payments. The rate will increase over the five-year period to 15.1% of revenue or 26.2% of record label payments by 2022. Certain per-subscriber minimum royalty floors also apply depending on the type of service.
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 United States 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 recording directly licensed from copyright owners and exclude from revenue certain other items, such 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 2019, Sirius XM paid a per performance rate for the streaming of certain sound recordings of $0.0023 on its Sirius XM streaming service. This royalty rate may increase further through 2020 based on changes in the consumer price index.
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 services, 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, 2019, 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 $0.0023. Sound recordings subject to the statutory license can only be played through Pandora’s radio mode services and not through services that are offered on-demand or offline or through any replay or additional skip features.
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 class action lawsuits 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 these actions.
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. For 2019, 21 Events took place in 21 countries across Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and North and South America. In 2019, the
World Championship was also followed by hundreds of millions of television viewers in approximately 200 territories, and Formula 1’s largest Events have hosted live audiences in excess of 300,000 on race weekends.
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”) at 18 Events, 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.
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. Formula 1 recognizes the majority of its revenue and expenses in connection with Events that take place in different countries around the world throughout the year. The Events generally take place 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.
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.
Race Promotion. Race promotion revenue comprised 30%, 34% and 34% of Formula 1’s total revenue for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, 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 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 38%, 33% and 34% of Formula 1’s total revenue for the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. 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 2019, Formula 1 had 14 free-to-air television agreements, seven pay television agreements and 27 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 (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 (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 15% of Formula 1’s total revenue for each of the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017. 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.
The remainder of Formula 1’s revenue is 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. Additionally, 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 2019 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 the Current Concorde Arrangements (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 Current Concorde Arrangements 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—Current Concorde Arrangements” 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 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.
Current Concorde Arrangements
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 previous 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 “Current Concorde Arrangements”) together provide the contractual framework for the World Championship that was previously set out in the Concorde Agreements.
Under the Current Concorde Arrangements, among other things, the Teams agree to participate in the World Championship during the term of the Current Concorde Arrangements and Formula 1 agrees to make certain Prize Fund payments to them based on their performance in the Constructors’ Championship and other principles (such as success, heritage and longevity in Formula 1) and measures of performance selected by Formula 1.
As discussed above, Formula 1 and each of the Teams have entered into separate Team Agreements that establish a Prize Fund, establish procedures for setting the World Championship calendar, give the Teams the right to nominate and, in some cases, appoint directors to Delta Topco’s board, and provide for certain termination rights. The Team Agreements establish 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 EBITDA (defined by Formula 1 as operating profit adjusted to exclude certain specific, and largely non-cash items) plus certain fixed fees. The majority of the Prize Fund paid to individual Teams is based on their results in prior Constructors’ Championships, with the balance paid to Teams that have achieved certain other historic performance milestones. Under the Team Agreements, the consent of a majority of certain Teams is required if there are more than 20 Events in a season or more than 17 Events are held in a season and the number of Events that are held outside Europe, the US or Canada exceeds 60% or more of the total number of Events in that season.
The Team Agreements with McLaren and Mercedes grant the corporate parent of each of those Teams (McLaren Technology Group Limited and Daimler AG, respectively) the right to appoint a team director (a “Team Director”) until December 31, 2020 or the termination of the relevant Team Agreement, if earlier. Ferrari has an equivalent right, pursuant to a provision contained in all Team Agreements granting that right to the longest standing Team that has competed in the World Championship for the greatest number of seasons since 1950. Currently, each of McLaren Technology Group Limited and Ferrari has exercised the relevant right and appointed a Team Director. Ferrari’s Team Director is also entitled to be a member of Delta Topco’s Audit and Ethics and Nomination Committees. In addition, the Teams have certain consultation rights with respect to the appointment of two independent non-executive directors to Delta Topco’s board of directors, although Delta Topco does not require the consent of the Teams with respect to any such appointment.
A Team Agreement may be terminated if the Team ceases to be a constructor, 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 also terminate their Team Agreements by written notice to Formula 1 under certain 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|
|●||a controlling interest holder of Formula 1 is subject to sanctions imposed by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control or is on the Financial Sanctions List in the United Kingdom.|
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 Current Concorde Arrangements, 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.|
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. We acquired the Braves from Time Warner, Inc. in 2007.
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 recognized during the second and third quarters, which aligns with the baseball season. The Battery Atlanta derives revenue primarily from rental income (including overage rent and tenant reimbursements), parking and sponsorships throughout the year.
Ticket Sales. The Braves offer 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 utilize five pricing tiers to sort games and rely on dynamic pricing, which is based upon various factors including the day of the week, date, opposing team, sales velocity, remaining inventory and days until the event. The Braves have also begun to 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 (“Fox SportSouth”). 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”).
Advertising and Corporate Sponsorship. The Braves work with a variety of corporate sponsors to facilitate advertising and promotional opportunities at Truist Park (formerly known as SunTrust 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 Fox SportSouth.
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 2019 season was $555,000 and will be $563,500 during the 2020 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. 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 25 players on its active roster (subject to limited exceptions) from the Opening Day of the season through August 31 of each year. Beginning in 2020, each team is allowed to maintain 26 players on its active roster from the Opening Day of the season through August 31 of each year. During the remainder of the season, teams may keep 40 players under contract. Beginning in September 2020, teams must keep 28 players under contract during the remainder of the season. The Braves’ roster reflects the team’s commitment to developing and securing talented young players, driving future on-field success.
Player Development. The Braves are associated with six minor league teams located in the United States, five of which are owned by Braves Holdings. The club’s minor league affiliates are detailed below:
Florida State League
South Atlantic League
Gulf Coast League
North Port, FL
* Not owned by Braves Holdings and will relocate to North Port, FL for the 2020 season
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 Braves’ Rookie League affiliate GCL Braves and will be the playing facility of the Florida Firefrogs beginning in 2020. 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 will include developing additional land for mixed-use purposes. 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. Live Nation has three business segments: Concerts, Sponsorship & Advertising and Ticketing.
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, 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. Revenue is generally impacted by the number of events, volume of ticket sales and ticket prices. Event costs such as artist fees and production service expenses are included in direct operating expenses and are typically substantial in relation to the revenue.
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, artist relationship 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 or occur from May through October.
Ticketing. Live Nation’s Ticketing segment is primarily an agency business that sells tickets for events on behalf of its clients and retains a fee, or service charge for these services. 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.
Terms of Live Nation Investment
At December 31, 2019, 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, 2019.
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 13 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 debt and 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 the merger of Sirius XM’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Vernon Merger Corporation, with and into 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 or other media properties. Sirius XM Holdings also faces competition from streaming and on-demand services, including Amazon Prime, Apple Music, Google Play 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 in many cases 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 may 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. 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 that provide data services through a direct vehicle interface. Most of these smartphones offer GPS mapping with sophisticated data-based turn-by-turn navigation. Sirius XM’s connected vehicle services business operates in a highly competitive environment and competes with several providers, including Verizon Telematics, as well as with products being developed by automakers for vehicles. OnStar, a division of GM, 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; 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 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, artist relationships, its global footprint, ticketing software and services, its ecommerce site and associated database, diverse
distribution platform (venues), the scope and effectiveness in its expertise of advertising and sponsorship programs and its financial stability.
As of December 31, 2019, we had 86 corporate employees, and our consolidated subsidiaries had an aggregate of approximately 6,667 full and part-time employees. We believe that our employee relations are good.
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, 2019, we had outstanding corporate-level indebtedness in the principal amount of $3.6 billion. At December 31, 2019, our only wholly owned consolidated subsidiaries are Braves Holdings and Formula 1. Braves Holdings, due to its size and nature, 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. 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, 2019, we had approximately $3.6 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, $208 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, $32 million of other obligations, $350 million outstanding under a
margin loan obligation incurred by our wholly owned special purpose subsidiary attributed to the Liberty SiriusXM Group and $130 million outstanding under a margin loan obligation incurred by our wholly owned special purposes subsidiary attributed to the Formula One Group. 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 and other debt and Sirius XM Holdings’ borrowings under its credit facility 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 recent national, international and other regulatory guidance and proposals for reform. On July 27, 2017, the United Kingdom's Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to phase out LIBOR by the end of 2021. It is unclear if at that time LIBOR will cease to exist or if new methods of calculating LIBOR will be established such that it continues to exist after 2021. 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 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, 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, Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, Inc. (“TripCo”) and GCI Liberty, Inc. (“GCI Liberty”), 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, TripCo, and GCI Liberty, most of the executive officers of Liberty also serve as executive officers of Qurate Retail, Liberty Broadband, TripCo and GCI Liberty, and there are overlapping directors. Other than GCI Liberty’s ownership of shares of Liberty Broadband’s non-voting Series C common stock, 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 GCI Liberty 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 GCI Liberty 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, TripCo and GCI Liberty 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 GCI Liberty. 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 GCI Liberty 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 GCI Liberty) 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, GCI Liberty 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, GCI Liberty or any of their respective subsidiaries or affiliates as would be the case where there is no overlapping officer or director.
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, of our Company or Sirius XM Holdings.
At December 31, 2019, we had a deferred tax asset attributable to federal and state net operating losses, disallowed business interest carryforwards and tax credit carryforwards of $1,141 million (of which $1,010 million was recorded at the Sirius XM Holdings level) and, under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (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 Holding’s, as applicable) market capitalization is below a certain level or proposed Treasury regulations under Section 382 of the Code issued during 2019 become final (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 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 companies.
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’ products may be pre-loaded or integrated into consumer electronics products or automobiles, more broadly than Sirius XM Holdings’ 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 listeners and subscribers;|
|●||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 Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and other audio entertainment and information providers.|
Pandora’s ad-supported business has suffered a 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.
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 Sirius XM service. 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.
Existing and new privacy-related laws and regulations, such as the European General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act, 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’ cost of operation or otherwise adversely affect its business.
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 or call blocking technologies, 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.
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. There can be no assurance that these efforts will be successful or that Sirius XM Holdings will not 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.
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. 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’ 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 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;|
|●||continuing to develop and diversify its advertising platform, which currently includes delivery of display, audio and video advertising products through multiple delivery channels; 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.
The substantial majority of the total listening to the Pandora service occurs on mobile devices, and Sirius XM Holdings expects that mobile listening will continue to be the largest portion of its total usage for the foreseeable future. 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.
Sirius XM Holdings continues to work on initiatives to increase its number of listener hours on mobile and other connected devices, including efforts to expand the reach of its Pandora service by making it available on a variety of devices, such as devices connected to or installed in automobiles. 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.
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 also 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 other 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.
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. These security measures may not be sufficient for all possible occurrences and may be vulnerable to hacking, employee error, malfeasance, system error, faulty password management or other irregularities. Further, 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.
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. For example, Space Systems/Loral (which is now the space solutions group of Maxar) has announced that it is restructuring its business and will no longer focus on manufacturing large geostationary communications satellites. The company is currently building two satellites for the Sirius XM service (the SXM-7 and
SXM-8 satellites). Maxar’s new business focus could adversely affect the delivery schedules of these satellites and the on-going technical support for Sirius XM Holdings’ existing in-orbit satellites.
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. There can be no assurance that any third party licensors will 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’ 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.
Sirius XM Holdings’ Pandora business depends in part upon consumer electronics manufacturers.
A key element of Sirius XM Holdings’ strategy to expand the reach of its Pandora service and increase the number of its subscribers and listeners is to establish and maintain relationships with automakers and consumer electronics manufacturers that integrate the service into and with their products. Sirius XM Holdings’ business could be adversely affected if automakers and consumer electronics manufacturers do not continue to provide access to its service or are unwilling to do so on terms acceptable to Sirius XM Holdings.
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.
ASCAP and BMI have historically been subject to antitrust consent decrees which govern, among other things, the prices they may permissibly charge licensees. The United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, has announced a review of those consent decrees. A termination or material modification of those consent decrees could affect Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to license musical compositions.
Under the United States Copyright Act (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 eight years.
Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to offer interactive features in its Pandora services depends upon maintaining licenses with copyright owners.
Pandora has direct license agreements with many sound recording copyright owners and with thousands of 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.
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. 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. If Sirius XM Holdings breaches those provisions it could, among other things, cause its payments under those agreements to escalate substantially or the counterparty could terminate its agreement. In addition, many record labels, music publishers and performing rights organizations have the right to audit Sirius XM’s royalty payments, and audits can 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 new 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. The rate that Sirius XM Holdings pays to music publishers and songwriters for the mechanical rights and performance rights needed in connection with interactive streaming will increase annually between 2018 and 2022. Certain per-subscriber minimums also apply depending on the type of service. Unless Sirius XM Holdings’ appeal of this decision is successful, Pandora’s royalty costs will significantly increase compared to prior rates, which could harm its financial condition and hinder its ability to provide interactive features in its services, or may cause one or more of its subscription services to not be commercially viable.
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 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.
Any material failure of Sirius XM Holdings’ satellites could cause it to lose customers for its Sirius XM service and could materially harm its reputation and its operating results. Sirius XM Holdings does not have insurance for its existing 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.
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 meet certain conditions regarding the interoperability of its satellite radios with those of other licensed satellite radio systems; 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.
Economic conditions, including advertising budgets and discretionary spending, may adversely affect Sirius XM Holdings’ business and operating results.
Sirius XM Holdings’ business is affected by general economic conditions, including their impact on advertising spending. Expenditures by advertisers generally tend to reflect overall economic conditions, and reductions in spending by advertisers could have an adverse impact on its business.
The purchase of a Sirius XM or Pandora subscription may be considered discretionary. To the extent that general economic conditions reduce consumer spending on discretionary activities, Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to attract and retain subscribers could be hindered, which could reduce its subscription revenue and negatively impact its business, including subscriber churn and conversion rates for its subscription services.
If Sirius XM Holdings is unable to attract and retain qualified personnel, its business could be harmed.
Sirius XM Holdings believes that its success depends on its ability to attract and retain qualified management, sales, technical and other personnel. All of Sirius XM Holdings’ employees, including its executive officers, are free to terminate their employment with Sirius XM Holdings at any time, and their knowledge of its business may be difficult to replace.
Qualified individuals are in high demand, particularly in the media and technology industries in New York and in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Sirius XM Holdings has substantial operations, and it may incur significant costs to
attract and retain employees. If Sirius XM Holdings is unable to attract and retain its key employees, it may not be able to achieve its objectives, and its business could be harmed.
Sirius XM Holdings may not realize the benefits of acquisitions or other strategic investments and initiatives, including the acquisition of Pandora.
Sirius XM Holdings’ strategy includes selective acquisitions, other strategic investments and initiatives that allow it to expand its business. The success of any acquisition, including the acquisition of Pandora, 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 Pandora. 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.
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. A number of suits brought by various plaintiffs remain pending against Pandora.
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.
Sirius XM Holdings may from time to time modify its business plan, and these changes could adversely affect Sirius XM Holdings and its financial condition.
Sirius XM Holdings regularly evaluates its plans and strategy. These evaluations often result in changes to its plans and strategy, some of which may be material. These changes in Sirius XM Holdings’ plans or strategy may include: the acquisition or termination of unique or compelling programming; the introduction of new features or services; significant new or enhanced distribution arrangements; investments in infrastructure, such as satellites, equipment or radio spectrum; and investments in, and/or acquisitions of, other businesses, including acquisitions that are not directly related to its business.
Sirius XM Holdings has a significant amount of indebtedness, and its debt contains certain covenants that restrict its operations.
As of December 31, 2019, Sirius XM Holdings had an aggregate principal amount of approximately $7.9 billion of indebtedness outstanding.
Sirius XM Holdings’ indebtedness increases its vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions; requires it to dedicate a portion of its cash flow from operations to payments on indebtedness, reducing the availability of cash flow to fund capital expenditures, marketing and other general corporate activities; limits its ability to borrow additional funds; and may limit its flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in its business and the audio entertainment industry.
Sirius XM Holdings’ facilities could be damaged by natural catastrophes or terrorist activities.
An earthquake, hurricane, tornado, flood, cyber-attack, terrorist attack or other catastrophic event could damage Sirius XM Holdings’ data centers, studios, terrestrial repeater networks or satellite uplink facilities, interrupt its services and harm its business. Sirius XM Holdings also has significant operations in the San Francisco Bay Area, a region known for seismic activity.
Any damage to the satellites that transmit to Sirius XM Holdings’ terrestrial repeater networks would likely result in degradation of the affected service for some Sirius XM subscribers and could result in complete loss of Sirius XM satellite service in certain or all areas. Damage to Sirius XM Holdings’ satellite uplink facilities could result in a complete loss of its Sirius XM satellite service until it could transfer operations to suitable back-up facilities.
The unfavorable outcome of pending or future litigation could have an adverse impact on Sirius XM Holdings’ operations and financial condition.
Sirius XM Holdings is party to several legal proceedings arising out of various aspects of its business, including class actions arising out of its marketing practices. The outcome of these proceedings may not be favorable, and one or more unfavorable outcomes could have an adverse impact on its financial condition.
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.
Development of Sirius XM Holdings’ systems has depended upon the intellectual property that it has developed, as well as intellectual property licensed from third parties. If the intellectual property that Sirius XM Holdings has developed or used is not adequately protected, others will be permitted to and may duplicate portions of its systems or services without liability. In addition, others may challenge, invalidate, render unenforceable or circumvent Sirius XM Holdings’ intellectual property rights, patents or existing licenses or it may face significant legal costs in connection with defending and enforcing those intellectual property rights. Some of the know-how and technology Sirius XM Holdings has developed, and plans to develop, is not now, nor will it be, covered by U.S. patents or trade secret protections. Trade secret protection and contractual agreements may not provide adequate protection if there is any unauthorized use or disclosure. The loss of necessary technologies could require Sirius XM Holdings to substitute technologies of lower quality performance standards, at greater cost or on a delayed basis, which could harm Sirius XM Holdings.
Other parties may have patents or pending patent applications, which will later mature into patents or inventions that may block or put limits on Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to operate its system or license its technologies. Sirius XM Holdings may have to resort to litigation to enforce its rights under license agreements or to determine the scope and validity of other parties’ proprietary rights in the subject matter of those licenses. This may be expensive and Sirius XM Holdings may not succeed in any such litigation.
Third parties may assert claims or bring suit against Sirius XM Holdings for patent, trademark or copyright infringement, or for other infringement or misappropriation of intellectual property rights. Any such litigation could be costly, divert Sirius XM’s efforts from its business, subject it to significant liabilities to third parties, require it to seek licenses from third parties, block its ability to operate its services or license its technology, or otherwise adversely affect its ability to successfully develop and market its services.
Some of Sirius XM Holdings’ services and technologies may use “open source” software, which may restrict how Sirius XM Holdings uses or distributes its services or require that it release the source code subject to those licenses.
Sirius XM Holdings may incorporate in some products software licensed under “open source” licenses. Open source licenses often require that the source code be made available to the public and that any modifications or derivative works to the open source software continue to be licensed under open source licenses. Few courts have interpreted open source licenses, and the manner in which these licenses may be interpreted and enforced is therefore subject to uncertainty. In the event that portions of Sirius XM Holdings’ proprietary technology are determined to be subject to an open source license, Sirius XM Holdings may be required to publicly release portions of its source code, be forced to re-engineer all or
a portion of its technologies, or otherwise be limited in the licensing of its technologies, each of which could adversely affect its ability to sustain and grow its business.
Rapid technological and industry changes and new entrants could adversely impact Sirius XM Holdings’ services.
The audio entertainment industry is characterized by rapid technological change, frequent product and feature innovations, changes in customer requirements and expectations, evolving standards and new entrants offering products and services. If Sirius XM Holdings is unable to keep pace with these changes, its business may not succeed. Products using new technologies could make Sirius XM Holdings’ services less competitive in the marketplace.
Existing or future laws and regulations could harm Sirius XM Holdings’ business.
Sirius XM Holdings is subject to many laws, including federal, state, local and foreign laws. These laws and regulations include user privacy, behavioral advertising, data collection and protection, automatic renewal of agreements, credit card processing procedures, pricing, fraud, electronic waste, mobile and electronic device communications, broadband internet access, content restrictions, quality of products and services, taxation, advertising, intellectual property rights and information security. The expansion of these laws, both in terms of their number and their applicability, could harm Sirius XM Holdings’ business.
Sirius XM Holdings cannot guarantee that it has been or will be fully compliant in every jurisdiction, as it is not entirely clear how existing laws and regulations governing privacy, taxation and consumer protection apply to internet-based businesses, such as Pandora. Moreover, as internet commerce continues to evolve, increasing regulation by federal, state and foreign agencies becomes more likely. The adoption of any laws or regulations that adversely affect the internet, including laws limiting internet neutrality, could decrease listener demand for Sirius XM Holdings’ service and increase its cost of doing business.
Sirius XM Holdings may be exposed to liabilities that other entertainment service providers would not customarily be subject to.
Sirius XM Holdings designs, establishes specifications, sources or specifies parts and components, and manages various aspects of the logistics of the production of satellite radios and its apps. As a result of these activities, Sirius XM Holdings may be exposed to liabilities associated with the design, manufacture and distribution of radios that the providers of an entertainment service would not customarily be subject to, such as liabilities for design defects, patent infringement and compliance with applicable laws, as well as the costs of returned product.
Sirius XM Holdings’ business and prospects depend on the strength of its brands.
Maintaining and enhancing Sirius XM Holdings’ brands is an important part of its strategy to expand its base of subscribers, listeners and advertisers. Sirius XM Holdings’ brands may be impaired by a number of factors, including service outages, data privacy and security issues and exploitation of its trademarks by others without permission. Sirius XM Holdings’ ability to maintain and enhance its brands also depends in part on its ability to continue to develop and provide an innovative and high-quality entertainment experience, which Sirius XM Holdings may not do successfully.
Listing standards of the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC include certain requirements regarding the listing of an “equity investment tracking stock,” and if the Liberty SiriusXM common stock were delisted because of a failure to meet any of such requirements, the liquidity and value of the Liberty SiriusXM common stock would be materially adversely affected.
The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC (“Nasdaq”) has adopted listing standards relating to “equity investment tracking stocks,” which Nasdaq has determined are applicable to the Liberty SiriusXM common stock as a result of the magnitude and structure of the interests in Sirius XM Holdings that are attributed to the Liberty SiriusXM Group. These listing standards provide that the Liberty SiriusXM common stock could be delisted from Nasdaq, pending a review by Nasdaq of whether such stock could satisfy another applicable initial listing standard and remain listed on Nasdaq, if any of the following occur: (i) Sirius XM Holdings’ common stock ceases to be listed on Nasdaq where it is currently traded; (ii) the
Company ceases to own, directly or indirectly, at least 50% of either the outstanding common stock or voting power of Sirius XM Holdings; or (iii) the Liberty SiriusXM common stock ceases to track the performance of Sirius XM Holdings. Further, if trading in Sirius XM Holdings’ common stock were suspended or delisting proceedings were commenced with respect to such Sirius XM Holdings common stock, trading in the Liberty SiriusXM common stock would be suspended or delisting proceedings would be commenced with respect to the Liberty SiriusXM common stock at the same time. Any delisting or suspension in trading of the Liberty SiriusXM common stock would materially adversely affect the liquidity and value of the Liberty SiriusXM common stock.
Risks Relating to the Formula One Group
Risks Relating to the Formula 1 Business
There could be a decline in the popularity of Formula 1, which may have a material adverse effect on Formula 1’s ability to exploit its commercial rights to the World Championship.
The success of Formula 1’s business and its ability to profitably renew or enter into beneficial new commercial arrangements, including race promotion, broadcasting, advertising and sponsorship contracts, is largely dependent upon the continued popularity of the World Championship. Similarly, the sponsorship and other revenue generation of the Teams are dependent on such continued popularity and, if such revenue decreased, it may impact their ability or willingness to continue participating in the World Championship. The popularity of Formula 1, globally and in particular countries and regions, may be influenced by competition from any rival championship and other forms of motor sport or similar entertainment which challenge Formula 1’s position and reputation as the pinnacle of world motor sport, the continued participation of the leading Teams, the perceived entertainment value of the World Championship, changes in societal views on automobiles more generally and an unfavorable economic climate which may discourage fans from attending Events or make it more difficult to expand into new markets, all of which could change rapidly and cannot be predicted. See “—Rival motor sport events could be established involving existing Teams or different teams, or existing Teams may divert their resources to participate in another motor sport event, which could lead to fewer Teams and race circuits being involved in Formula 1, or a Team’s primary engagement in motor sport being in another motor sport event, either of which could diminish the competitive position of Formula 1.” Formula 1 also faces stiff competition from other live sporting events, and with sporting events delivered over television networks, radio, the Internet and online services, mobile applications and other alternative sources, as well as from the availability of alternative forms of entertainment and leisure activities. Formula 1 competes for attendance, viewership and advertising with a wide range of alternatives, such as top flight soccer leagues in many of its non-U.S. markets. As a result of the large number of options available, Formula 1 faces strong competition for the attention of sports fans.
Further, a scandal which undermines the credibility of the sport, such as a race fixing scandal, or accident could also impact the popularity of Formula 1. In particular regions, the popularity of the World Championship varies depending upon the participation and performance of drivers and Teams from that region. There is no assurance that Formula 1 will be able to compete effectively with other forms of sports or entertainment or that the World Championship will maintain its popularity either globally or in any particular country or region. Any decrease in the continued popularity of the World Championship may affect Formula 1’s ability to enter into or renew race promotion, broadcasting, advertising, sponsorship or other commercial agreements which may materially adversely affect Formula 1’s business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, and in turn materially adversely impact the Formula One Group.
Termination of the 100-Year Agreements could cause Formula 1 to discontinue its operations.
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, among other things. The license under the 100-Year Agreements is critical to the ongoing operation of Formula 1’s business. Formula 1’s rights under these agreements can be terminated by the FIA if Formula 1 materially breaches the relevant agreements (with certain of such breaches subject to certain cure rights), undergoes an unpermitted change of control, interferes with certain of the FIA’s rights under the 100-Year Agreements or experiences certain insolvency events. If
Formula 1’s license under the 100-Year Agreements was terminated in accordance with its terms or the FIA or another person successfully challenged the validity of that license (or the 100-Year Agreements as a whole), it could cause Formula 1 to discontinue its operations, lead to the termination of substantially all of Formula 1’s commercial contracts, prevent Formula 1 from exploiting the commercial rights to the World Championship and require Formula 1 to discontinue use of the World Championship trademarks and other intellectual property rights, which would materially adversely impact the Formula One Group.
Teams may, in certain circumstances, terminate their existing commitment to participate in the World Championship until (and including) 2020 or breach their obligations and withdraw.
Formula 1’s ability to effectively stage the World Championship depends on the ongoing involvement of its participants. Pursuant to individual Team Agreements, each of the current 10 Teams have committed to participate in the World Championship until December 31, 2020, subject to earlier termination upon the occurrence of certain events. Formula 1 cannot provide assurance that any of the Teams will commit to participate in the World Championship beyond 2020, or that the FIA will renew the Current Concorde Arrangements under the 2013 Concorde Implementation Agreement beyond 2030. If any of the current Teams cease to participate in the World Championship, Formula 1 may attempt to encourage new entrants to the World Championship; however, there is no assurance Formula 1 will be able to do this. If such Teams were not replaced, it could result in fewer competitors in the World Championship as compared to recent seasons which may impact the perceived entertainment value of Events. In addition, any negotiation for an extension to the term of the Team Agreements or the Concorde Arrangements could result in less favorable terms to Formula 1.
Even if a Team has committed to participate in the World Championship it may be able to exercise termination rights under its Team Agreement in certain circumstances and withdraw. For additional information regarding the agreements with the Teams, see “Item 1. Business—Formula 1—Key Commercial Agreements—Team Agreements.” It is also possible that Teams could form a rival motor sport series.
A lesser number of teams may reduce the popularity of Formula 1 which may affect its ability to enter into or renew race promotion, broadcasting, advertising, sponsorship or other commercial agreements, which may materially and adversely affect Formula 1’s business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, and in turn may materially adversely impact the Formula One Group.
The FIA may take actions which are not in Formula 1’s interest.
The FIA is the governing body of the World Championship and a party to the 100-Year Agreements and the 2013 Concorde Implementation Agreement. In its capacity as the governing body of the World Championship, the FIA must place safety and other sporting concerns over Formula 1’s commercial interests. As a result, the FIA may take actions with respect to safety and sporting standards and regulations which conflict with Formula 1’s interests as the commercial rights holder, including by increasing the cost to Teams of participating in the World Championship, diminishing the visual and sonic spectacle of Events, imposing fines on or excluding Teams, cancelling or delaying an Event, withholding approval for the staging of an Event, a new circuit or Formula 1’s proposed season calendar or establishing regulations without the support of the Teams. As a party to the 100-Year Agreements and the 2013 Concorde Implementation Agreement, the FIA has certain rights and limitations and the exercise or purported exercise of the FIA’s rights thereunder may conflict with Formula 1’s interests. Any actions taken by the FIA which conflict with Formula 1’s interests may adversely impact Formula 1’s operations and revenue, and in turn may materially adversely impact the Formula One Group.
Formula 1 may be subject to enforcement actions under competition laws.
As further described in “Item 1.Business—Regulatory Matters—Competition Laws and Formula 1,” following an investigation by the EC in 1999 in relation to Formula 1’s compliance with competition laws, Formula 1 modified certain of its business practices and changed the terms of a number of Formula 1’s commercial contracts. Following these modifications and changes, the EC issued two comfort letters to Formula 1 in October 2001 stating that Formula 1 was no longer under investigation. Comfort letters are not binding on the EC and if it believes there has been a material change in circumstances, it could take further enforcement action. 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 its comfort letters
and that it had ended its monitoring of Formula 1’s compliance. In adopting practices and concluding commercial contracts (including as to contracts with broadcasters (and the manner in which these rights are offered), contracts with Teams and contracts with promoters), Formula 1 takes into account the modified practices that formed the basis of the EC’s comfort letters.
Formula 1 is also required to comply with general European Union 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. Failure to comply with the relevant practices, terms, laws and rules can give rise to challenges by the EC, national competition regulators and other interested parties. In addition, they could cause or deem certain of Formula 1’s commercial contracts (including the Team Agreements) to be unenforceable in whole or in part and/or require various terms (including duration, scope and exclusivity) to be modified, and/or Formula 1 could be liable for damages or other sanctions.
Formula 1 has sought to adopt practices and conclude commercial contracts that take into account competition law as it applies to the specific nature of Formula 1’s sporting and entertainment businesses, Formula 1’s role within those businesses and the roles of the counterparties to Formula 1’s commercial contracts. However given the uncertainty of the law in this area, and the possibility of third parties instigating action, there is a risk of further EC investigations, challenges or proceedings against Formula 1. For example, two Teams made a complaint against Formula 1 to the EC in September 2015 regarding the distribution of the Prize Fund and current sporting governance arrangements (though Formula 1 rejected the complaint as being without merit and believed it was in any event, a commercial dispute and not one that involved any breach of competition law). Although this particular complaint was withdrawn by the two Teams in early 2018, for the reasons set out above, no assurance can be given that there will be no future EC investigations, challenges or proceedings regarding unasserted matters.
Any of the foregoing could materially and adversely affect Formula 1’s business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, which in turn could materially adversely impact the Formula One Group.
Formula 1 may be unable to renew, replace or renegotiate on favorable terms one or more of Formula 1’s race promotion, broadcasting or advertising and sponsorship contracts.
Formula 1’s race promotion, broadcasting and advertising and sponsorship contracts typically have terms of three to seven years, three to five years and three to five years, respectively, but may on occasion be of longer duration. When these contracts expire, Formula 1 may not be able to renew or replace them with contracts on similar terms or at all. Further, counterparties to our contracts may seek to terminate or renegotiate them, and we may not be able to replace terminated contracts with contracts on similar terms or at all or renegotiate contracts on terms that are as favorable to us. Formula 1’s ability to renew, replace or renegotiate its contracts on similar terms, or at all, is dependent on a number of factors which Formula 1 may not be able to control or predict including the popularity of Formula 1, the value of live sports rights generally, relevant regulations, economic conditions in the relevant countries and the spending capacity and priorities of Formula 1’s counterparties. Additionally, many of Formula 1’s race promotion and broadcasting contracts are directly or indirectly with, or guaranteed by, governmental bodies or agencies and a change in their spending capacity or priorities could impact Formula 1’s negotiations with them. A failure to renew, replace or renegotiate Formula 1’s existing contracts on similar or improved terms could result in, among other things, the cancellation of an Event, the payments Formula 1 receives decreasing, the term of the contracts being shortened, termination rights being granted to Formula 1’s counterparties and other contractual terms and conditions being introduced which could materially and adversely affect Formula 1’s business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, and in turn could materially adversely impact the Formula One Group.
Formula 1 is exposed to credit-related losses in the event of non-performance by counterparties to Formula 1’s key commercial contracts.
Future payments under Formula 1’s core commercial contracts, including Formula 1’s race promotion, broadcasting and advertising and sponsorship contracts are typically made periodically over the course of several years. Formula 1’s ability to generate cash flow is heavily dependent on collecting amounts owed to it under these contracts. A change in the credit quality of one or more of Formula 1’s counterparties over the term of their contract with Formula 1
may increase the risk of non-payment. Certain of Formula 1’s counterparties are directly or indirectly governments or agencies thereof, some of which have recently experienced a deterioration in their credit quality. Formula 1 may also generally experience difficulties or be unable to recover payments owed to it by governments or agencies thereof because of their sovereign or semi-sovereign status. Additionally, an appreciation of the US dollar against the functional currencies of Formula 1’s counterparties increases the risk of non-payment. See “—Fluctuations in the value of the US dollar against the functional currencies of Formula 1’s business and Formula 1’s counterparties’ business could adversely affect Formula 1’s profitability and the Formula One Group.” The failure of one or more of Formula 1’s counterparties to pay outstanding amounts owed to it could have a material adverse effect on Formula 1’s cash flows and results of operation, and in turn could materially adversely impact the Formula One Group.
Potential challenges by tax authorities in the jurisdictions in which Formula 1 operates could adversely affect Formula 1’s financial results and position and in turn, the Formula One Group.
Formula 1’s taxes are based upon the applicable tax laws and tax rates in effect in the jurisdictions in which it operates and upon the nature of Formula 1’s business arrangements and activities with and in such jurisdictions. When computing its tax obligations in these jurisdictions, Formula 1 endeavors to apply national and international tax rules consistently and in accordance with generally accepted interpretations and practice. However, such rules, and their application to Formula 1’s business, may not be entirely clear in all cases and may be interpreted differently by the applicable tax authorities. There can be no assurance that, upon review of Formula 1’s positions, the applicable tax authorities will agree with such positions. If a tax authority successfully challenges Formula 1’s positions with respect to its business arrangements, intercompany pricing policies, or the taxable presence of subsidiaries in certain jurisdictions, or if Formula 1 loses a material tax dispute in any jurisdiction, then Formula 1 may be exposed to additional tax liabilities and penalties, which may adversely affect its financial condition, results of operations and prospects, and in turn may materially adversely impact the Formula One Group.
Changes in tax laws could adversely affect Formula 1 and the Formula One Group.
Formula 1 operates in various jurisdictions and is subject to changes in applicable tax laws, treaties, or regulations in those jurisdictions. A material change in the tax laws, treaties, or regulations, or their interpretation, of any jurisdiction with which Formula 1 does business, or in which Formula 1 has significant operations, could adversely affect Formula 1.
For example, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (the “OECD”) continues its work on base erosion and profit shifting (“BEPS”), which seeks to reform the taxation of multinational businesses. This work may lead to changes in international tax treaties and their interpretation, and to countries’ taxing rights under those treaties, as well as to unilateral action by individual countries in respect of their own domestic tax laws which may be uncoordinated and could create double taxation and increase controversy. Any such changes could adversely affect Formula 1 and the Formula One Group.
Formula 1 may face difficulties expanding into new markets, including as a result of being unable to attract race promoters for new Events.
Formula 1 has recently staged Events in a number of new markets and intends to explore further opportunities for expansion. Attracting the relevant race promoters to the World Championship in these markets on terms that are attractive to Formula 1 will be largely dependent on the popularity of the Formula 1 brand in these markets and Formula 1’s perceived ability to deliver the benefits that race promoters desire, such as publicity for the host city/region, economic impact or tourism. See “—There could be a decline in the popularity of Formula 1 which may have a material adverse effect on Formula 1’s ability to exploit its commercial rights to the World Championship.” Additionally, Formula 1 may have difficulties entering into agreements with race promoters that have the necessary resources and experience to obtain all the necessary FIA, governmental and sporting approvals and successfully stage an Event. Events in new markets also require significant investments in circuit infrastructure and other administrative costs by Formula 1’s race promoters which may not be recouped and may generate fees below those received from Formula 1’s Events staged in more developed markets. In addition, under the Team Agreements, the consent of a majority of certain Teams is required if there are more than 20 Events in a season or more than 17 Events are held in a season and the number of Events that are held outside Europe, the U.S. or Canada exceeds 60% or more of the total number of Events in that season. See “Item 1. Business—
Formula 1—Key Commercial Agreements—Team Agreements.” Also, under the 100-Year Agreements as amended by the 2013 Concorde Implementation Agreement, Formula 1 must obtain the FIA’s approval to stage more than 25 Events (or beginning in 2031, more than 17 Events unless the FIA and Formula 1 make a new agreement on this point), and there is no assurance such approval will be obtained.
Formula 1’s business is subject to laws and regulations including with respect to advertising, broadcasting and the environment, and changes in and judicial interpretations of such laws and regulations could have a material adverse effect on Formula 1 and the Formula One Group.
Formula 1’s business is subject to laws and regulations including advertising, broadcasting, environmental and health and safety laws and regulations. Such regimes are subject to periodic governmental review, legislative initiatives and judicial interpretations, any of which could adversely affect Formula 1’s business and its profitability. A substantial part of Formula 1’s, broadcasters’ and the Teams’ revenue come from advertising or sponsorship contracts. If new restrictions or bans on advertising specific products or services which are advertised in Formula 1 are introduced, it may reduce Formula 1’s advertising and sponsorship revenue or advertising revenue of Formula 1’s broadcasters and the Teams which in turn may reduce the value of Formula 1’s broadcasting contracts and impact the Teams’ desire to continue participating in Formula 1. For example, advertising of alcohol is restricted in certain countries where Events are held. Advertising laws could also be introduced which prevent the broadcast of images which include a restricted brand, thereby preventing Formula 1 from licensing the television rights in an affected country. Additionally, as Formula 1 expands into new markets, local customs, practices and cultural sensitivities may require Formula 1 and the Teams to restrict advertising certain products even if not required by law. Broadcasting laws could be introduced which require that Events be broadcast only on free-to-air television which would prevent Formula 1 from entering into pay television contracts in the relevant jurisdiction. Additionally, judicial decisions or other governmental action could interfere with the manner in which Formula 1 exploits its broadcasting rights, including in relation to Formula 1’s segmentation of such rights among different geographic regions. Environmental laws could also be introduced which place limits on engine design and Event activities. Motor sport has also been banned in certain countries. For example, Switzerland banned motor sport from 1955 to 2007 following an accident at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that killed spectators and a driver. A ban on motor sport in any country where Formula 1 holds an Event could result in a reduction in Formula 1’s revenue and as a consequence, may materially and adversely affect Formula 1’s business, financial condition and prospects, which in turn may materially adversely impact the Formula One Group.
Significant developments stemming from the Brexit vote could have a material adverse effect on our business, particularly with respect to the movement of goods and people.
On June 23, 2016, the U.K. held a referendum in which U.K. citizens voted in favor of, on an advisory basis, an exit from the E.U. commonly referred to as “Brexit.” The results from the Brexit vote have created political and economic uncertainty, particularly in the U.K. and the E.U., and this uncertainty may last for years. The U.K. withdrew from the E.U. on January 31, 2020. This has resulted in a transition period during which the E.U.-U.K. trade relationship will not change, and the UK will remain part of the E.U. Customs Union and Single Market, subject to all E.U. trade law. During the transition period, the E.U. and the U.K. will negotiate their new economic and security relationship, including a new agreement on trade. The transition will last until December 31, 2020, which can be extended for up to two years if the E.U. and the U.K. agree to do so. However, at present, the U.K. government’s stated intention is not to seek or agree to an extension. A “no deal” outcome on trade remains a possibility if the E.U. and the U.K. fail to conclude a new trade agreement before December 31, 2020 and the transition period is not extended. In that case, with effect from January 1, 2021, the basis for E.U.-U.K. trade would automatically default to WTO terms. The potential impacts, if any, of the considerable continuing uncertainty relating to Brexit or the resulting terms of the new economic and security relationship between the U.K. and the E.U. on the free movement of goods, services, people and capital between the U.K. and the E.U., customer behavior, economic conditions, interest rates, currency exchange rates, availability of capital or other matters are unclear. In particular, Formula 1’s headquarters and television production and technical operations are based in the U.K. and a number of Events are held in the E.U., and so our business could be materially adversely affected if the new economic and security relationship results in greater restrictions on business between the U.K. and E.U. countries, increased regulatory complexities, disruptions in the movement of goods needed in our operations, including our and the Teams’ equipment to and from U.K. based Events, and disruptions in the mobility of personnel, including our key personnel based
in the U.K. These possible negative impacts, and others resulting from Brexit, may adversely affect our business, financial condition and operating results.
Events beyond Formula 1’s control may cause one or more events to be cancelled or postponed or prevent Formula 1 from providing an international television feed, each of which could result in the loss of revenue under Formula 1’s commercial contracts.
An Event may have to be postponed or cancelled, or Formula 1 may be unable to provide an international television feed of an Event, due to factors beyond its control, including an inability to transport Formula 1’s and the Teams’ equipment to an Event, power failures, parties to our race promotion contracts terminating those contracts, cancellation of large-scale public events by a competent authority due to a security or terrorism risk or outbreak of disease, which could result in the loss of revenue under Formula 1’s commercial contracts. Most recently, the Chinese Grand Prix was postponed due to the Novel Coronavirus outbreak. In addition, the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2011 was cancelled due to civil unrest. If the cancellation of an Event is due to a force majeure event (such as the outbreak of war or civil unrest) that occurs prior to the scheduled commencement of scrutineering and sporting checks (which typically takes place on the Thursday immediately prior to the race or Wednesday in the case of the Grand Prix de Monaco), the race promoter is not required to pay Formula 1 the race promotion fee for that Event. Typically, Formula 1’s broadcast contracts include a provision to reduce the fee payable to Formula 1 if there are fewer than 15 Events in a season for reasons other than a force majeure event. However, if an Event were to be cancelled due to the race promoter failing to meet its obligations under the race promotion contract, then Formula 1 may be entitled to indemnification from the race promoter for any lost broadcasting revenue. If an Event is not held, cancelled or does not receive international television coverage (for example, as a result of a technical problem), Formula 1’s fees under the relevant advertising and sponsorship contract are likely to be reduced unless the advertising and sponsorship contract allows Formula 1 to substitute another Event for the cancelled Event and Formula 1 does so. If an Event is cancelled, Formula 1 will also be required to refund amounts paid under other arrangements, including amounts paid for tickets to the Paddock Club, the principal high end corporate hospitality offering at certain Event weekends.
Accidents during Events may cause losses that are not covered by insurance, disrupt an Event and cause Formula 1 reputational damage.
Racing accidents occur in Formula 1. The last racing accident to cause the death of a driver was in 2019 at the Belgian Grand Prix and there have also been two fatalities involving race marshals since 1994. Fatal accidents, particularly if they involve public spectators, could damage the reputation of Formula 1 and decrease its popularity, any of which could have a material adverse effect on Formula 1. Accidents can also result in the cancellation of a practice or qualifying session or a race. Additionally, persons harmed in any accident could seek compensation from Formula 1. Formula 1 and its promoters purchase insurance coverage for each Event. However, there can be no assurance that such insurance policies will provide adequate coverage at all times and in all circumstances. If Formula 1 is held liable for damages beyond the scope of the insurance coverage available to Formula 1 (including the insurance contract procured by the race promoter to include coverage for Formula 1), Formula 1’s business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected, which in turn could materially adversely affect the Formula One Group.
Terrorist acts during Events may cause Formula 1 damage and losses that are not covered by insurance.
Formula 1 is a high profile sport with a global fan base and Events are attended by a large number of spectators. An Event, like any other major sporting event, could be the target of an actual or threatened terrorist act, either of which could disrupt Formula 1 and lead to the cancellation of Events, increase security requirements and result in a decline of spectator attendance at Events. Additionally, persons harmed in any terrorist act may attempt to seek compensation from Formula 1. The general risk of a terror attack has increased recently in a number of the countries in which Events are held. Formula 1 purchases annual insurance policies covering all Events, and individual race promoters purchase insurance coverage for their own Events under which Formula 1 is also covered, which provide coverage for third party liability covering personal injury, equipment and property damage. However, there can be no assurance that this insurance will be adequate at all times and in all circumstances. Terrorism is expressly excluded from the public liability coverage arranged by the race promoters, although Formula 1’s own insurance policies cover both its broadcast and Event systems equipment and its employer and public liabilities exposures for terrorism risks. If Formula 1 is held liable for damages beyond the
scope of the insurance coverage (its own and that arranged by the race promoter) and/or is unable to obtain indemnification from the relevant insurer(s), Formula 1’s business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected, which in turn could materially adversely affect the Formula One Group.
Rival motor sport events could be established involving existing Teams or different teams, or existing Teams may divert their resources to participate in another motor sport event, which could lead to fewer Teams and race circuits being involved in Formula 1, or a Team’s primary engagement in motor sport being in another motor sport event, either of which could diminish the competitive position of Formula 1.
In the future, it is possible that a rival motor racing series similar to Formula 1 could be established, involving existing Teams and/or different teams or an existing motor sport event could become more popular and become a rival series to Formula 1. Such a rival series could lead to fewer Teams and race circuits in Formula 1, reduce the budget that a Team is willing to spend on its participation in Formula 1, or diminish the competitive position of Formula 1 and have a material adverse effect on Formula 1’s results of operations and business and the Formula One Group. In addition, certain of Formula 1’s commercial contracts could be terminated if Formula 1 ceased to be the premier motor racing series for open wheel single-seater cars. Pursuant to individual Team Agreements, each of the 10 Teams have committed to participate in the World Championship until December 31, 2020. If a rival motor racing series is established (or if an existing series develops into a rival series), this may reduce the popularity of Formula 1 leading to a decline in the value of Formula 1’s commercial contracts which may materially adversely affect Formula 1’s business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, and in turn may materially adversely affect the Formula One Group. See “—There could be a decline in the popularity of Formula 1 which may have a material adverse effect on Formula 1’s ability to exploit its commercial rights to the World Championship” and “—Teams may, in certain circumstances, terminate their existing commitment to participate in the World Championship until (and including) 2020 or breach their obligations and withdraw.”
Changes in consumer viewing habits and the emergence of new content distribution platforms could adversely affect Formula 1’s business and the Formula One Group.
The manner in which consumers view televised sporting events is changing rapidly with the emergence of alternative distribution platforms. Digital cable, internet and wireless content providers are continuing to improve technologies, content offerings, user interface, and business models that allow consumers to access video-on-demand or internet-based tools with interactive capabilities including start, stop and rewind. Formula 1’s exclusive commercial rights place no limits on the platforms on which it can operate, including online. However, such developments may impact the profitability or effectiveness of Formula 1’s existing licensing practices and there is no guarantee that Formula 1 will be successful in adapting its licensing practices and/or media platform as consumer viewing habits change. If Formula 1 is unsuccessful in adapting its licensing practices and/or media platform as consumer viewing habits change, Formula 1’s viewership levels (whether on traditional or new platforms) may decrease and/or its licensing practices may become less profitable leading to the possibility of a reduction in the value of its broadcasting and advertising and sponsorship contracts. Any reduction in the value of Formula 1’s commercial rights and/or contracts may materially and adversely affect its revenue, business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects, which in turn may materially adversely affect the Formula One Group. While Formula 1’s monetization of its television rights has increased in recent years, there can be no assurance that such increases will continue or that Formula 1’s level of such monetization will be comparable to that of other sporting events.
If confidential information regarding Formula 1’s business arrangements is disclosed or leaked, it could affect Formula 1’s relationships with counterparties and/or Teams and result in less favorable commercial contracts and adversely affect Formula 1’s business and the Formula One Group.
The success of Formula 1’s business depends on maintaining good relationships with Formula 1’s counterparties (including race promoters, broadcasters, advertisers and sponsors) and the Teams and entering into race promotion, broadcasting, advertising and sponsorship and other commercial contracts on favorable terms. If confidential information regarding Formula 1’s business arrangements with its counterparties and/or the Teams were to be disclosed or leaked, it could harm Formula 1’s relationships with those parties and result in less favorable terms in its commercial contracts,
including with respect to pricing and adversely affect its business, results of operation, financial condition and prospects, which in turn could materially adversely affect the Formula One Group.
Formula 1 depends on trademarks, copyrights and intellectual property.
Formula 1 relies on certain trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property to protect its rights, including its brands, logos and television footage. The existence of complex factual and legal issues may give rise to uncertainty as to the validity or subsistence, scope and enforceability of a particular trademark, copyright or other intellectual property or contractual right in a particular jurisdiction. While historically Formula 1 has been widely transmitted by free-to-air television which reduced its attractiveness as a target for piracy and other infringement, Formula 1 is increasingly transmitted by pay TV operators that are greater targets for piracy. In any event, Formula 1’s intellectual property, and in particular the Formula 1 brand (including the F1 logo) and television footage are potential targets for counterfeiting, piracy and other infringement. New technologies such as the convergence of computing, communication, and entertainment devices, the falling prices of devices incorporating such technologies, increased broadband internet speed and penetration and increased availability and speed of mobile data transmission have made the unauthorized digital pirating and distribution of televised sporting events easier and faster and enforcement of intellectual property rights more challenging. The unauthorized use of intellectual property in the entertainment industry generally continues to be a significant challenge for intellectual property rights holders. If Formula 1 is unsuccessful in preventing widespread piracy and illegal live streaming of Events in the future, these activities could result in lost revenue and a reduction in the value of Formula 1’s broadcasting rights which may materially and adversely affect Formula 1’s business, results of operation, financial condition and prospects, and in turn may materially adversely affect the Formula One Group.
The terms of Formula 1’s indebtedness may limit its financial and operating flexibility.
Covenants contained in the agreements governing Formula 1’s credit facilities will restrict the ability of its subsidiaries to, among other things:
|●||incur or guarantee additional indebtedness or be a creditor in respect of financial indebtedness;|
|●||pay dividends, redeem their share capital, purchase capital stock, make investments or other restricted payments;|
|●||make any payment in respect, or on account of, indebtedness owing to Delta Topco;|
|●||in certain circumstances, make any payment or distribution in respect, or on account of, intra-group debt;|
|●||issue or sell capital stock;|
|●||acquire assets or make investments;|
|●||sell assets (including capital stock of subsidiaries);|
|●||enter into sale and leaseback or finance lease transactions;|
|●||acquire an interest in or invest in any joint venture;|
|●||enter into transactions with shareholders or affiliates except on arm’s length terms for full market value, including in relation to the provision of goods or services;|
|●||enter into any contractual or similar restriction which restricts their ability to pay dividends or other distributions, make intra-group loan repayments, loan repayments or loans;|
|●||effect a consolidation or merger;|
|●||amend material commercial contracts; and|
|●||enter into derivative transactions in respect of exposures which are unconnected to Formula 1’s credit facilities.|
In addition, those covenants restrict certain holding companies in Formula 1 from trading, carrying on business, owning assets or incurring liabilities.
Formula 1 may also be required to repay its credit facilities upon the occurrence of certain events and Formula 1 cannot give any assurance that it will be able to finance such a repayment. Failure to comply with an obligation to repay the credit facilities would result in an event of default which could have a material adverse effect on Formula 1 and the Formula One Group.
These restrictive covenants could limit Formula 1’s ability to pursue Formula 1’s growth plans, restrict Formula 1’s flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in Formula 1’s business and industry and increase Formula 1’s vulnerability to adverse economic and industry conditions. Formula 1 may enter into additional financing arrangements in the future, which could further restrict Formula 1’s flexibility.
Fluctuations in the value of the US dollar against the functional currencies of Formula 1’s business and Formula 1’s counterparties’ business could adversely affect Formula 1’s profitability and the Formula One Group.
In 2019, a significant proportion of Formula 1’s revenue and costs were denominated in U.S. dollars. Formula 1 also operates in a number of other currencies, most notably the pound sterling and Euro. There may be a mismatch between the amount of a local currency Formula 1 generates in revenue and incurs in expenses. Our financial statements translate local currency transactions into U.S. dollars. Formula 1 uses derivatives to hedge its exposure to foreign currency risk. There is no assurance that such measures will be successful and fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar against Formula 1’s functional currencies could affect its profitability. Additionally, most payments Formula 1 receives from Formula 1’s counterparties under Formula 1’s commercial contracts are denominated in U.S. dollars while their revenue is typically denominated in other currencies, most notably the Euro or the local currency in the country where the relevant Event is held. An appreciation of the U.S. dollar, against the functional currencies of Formula 1’s counterparties whose revenue is denominated in a currency other than U.S. dollars, increases the cost of their payments to Formula 1 in their functional currencies and the risk that they will not make their payments to Formula 1 or cause them to request Formula 1 to enter into a new contract with such counterparty, which could affect Formula 1’s profitability and financial position, and in turn could impact the Formula One Group. See “—Formula 1 is exposed to credit-related losses in the event of non-performance by counterparties to Formula 1’s key commercial contracts.”
Formula 1 is reliant upon the retention of certain key personnel and the hiring of strategically valuable personnel, and Formula 1 may lose or be unable to hire one or more of such personnel.
Formula 1’s commercial success is dependent to a considerable extent on the abilities and reputation of Formula 1’s management. Formula 1’s senior management team has a wealth of experience both in Formula 1 and in the media sector more widely. Formula 1’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chase Carey is a well-known and respected senior figure in the media industry and has led Formula 1 in its growth and expansion since Liberty’s acquisition of the business in 2017. Formula 1’s Chief Financial Officer, Duncan Llowarch, and the General Counsel, Sacha Woodward Hill, have 23 years and 24 years of experience in Formula 1, respectively, and Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motor Sports, has over 40 years of experience in motor racing, holding senior positions in several leading Formula 1 teams including his own, Brawn GP, which won the Formula 1 Constructors’ title in 2009. While Formula 1 has the benefit of a strong management team and contracted revenue which provide Formula 1 stability in the near term, the voluntary departure of any key personnel could disrupt Formula 1’s operations and have a material adverse effect on Formula 1’s business and results of operations, which in turn could materially adversely impact the Formula One Group. Liberty and Formula 1 continue to take steps to hire new members of management for the Formula 1 team as Liberty continues to expand the Formula 1 business. If Liberty and Formula 1 are unable to make strategic hires to strengthen the management of Formula 1, or if we are unable to retain these strategic hires over the long-term, the Formula 1 business may suffer, and Liberty may be unable to recognize the anticipated benefits of the acquisition of Formula 1.
The Teams have certain governance rights under the Current Concorde Arrangements (which are currently being renegotiated) and the organizational documents of Delta Topco that may limit or, at a minimum, influence actions that Liberty may seek to cause Formula 1 to take.
The Teams are entitled to certain consent rights under the Current Concorde Arrangements (a series of governance and regulatory agreements among the stakeholders in Formula 1), including in relation to the number of Events in a season exceeding 20 (or 17 if the number of Events that are held outside Europe, the US or Canada exceeds 60% or more of the total number of Events in that season) and the introduction of new sporting and technical regulations applying to the World Championship. Also, under the Current Concorde Arrangements, the Longest Standing Team (as defined below) has a consent right over certain nominees for appointment as a new chief executive of Formula 1 and certain rights with respect to the termination of the current chief executive of Formula 1. Further, the team agreements with McLaren and Mercedes grant the corporate parent of each of those Teams (McLaren Group Limited and Daimler AG, respectively) the right to appoint a director of Delta Topco until December 31, 2020 or the termination of the relevant Team Agreement, if earlier, and Ferrari has an equivalent right, pursuant to a provision contained in all of the Team Agreements granting that right to the Longest Standing Team that has competed in the World Championship for the greatest number of seasons since 1950 (the “Longest Standing Team”) (each such director, a “Team Director”). The right with respect to the Longest Standing Team is also reflected in the organizational documents of Delta Topco. The Longest Standing Team’s Team Director has the right to sit on the audit and ethics and nomination committees of Delta Topco and any standing or ad hoc committees of Delta Topco established to monitor the strategic development of Formula 1’s business. The Longest Standing Team’s Team Director also has influence in relation to the removal or appointment of Formula 1’s chief executive, by virtue of being a member of the nomination committee of Delta Topco. The interests or opinions of the Teams with regard to certain actions proposed to be taken by Formula 1 may differ from those of Liberty. In such event, the Teams may be able to block these actions or, at a minimum, cause their interests or opinions to be considered by the Delta Topco board of directors.
In addition, the renegotiation of the Current Concorde Arrangements is currently underway, and it is currently expected that the new arrangements will reflect a new governance and prize fund structure, which could be less favorable to Formula One Group. Although negotiations are in the advanced stages with the teams, the Current Concorde Arrangements expire at the end of 2020, and there can be no guarantee that all arrangements and final documentation will be in place prior to then.
Other Risks Relating to the Formula One Group
We do not have the right to manage our business affiliate, Live Nation, which means we are not able to cause it to operate in a manner that is favorable to us.
We do not have the right to manage the businesses or affairs of our business affiliate Live Nation, which is attributed to the Formula One Group. Rather, our rights take the form of representation on the board of directors and board committees. Although our board representation rights may enable us to exercise influence over the management or policies of Live Nation, they will not enable us to cause Live Nation to take any actions we believe are favorable to us (such as paying dividends or distributions).
Our equity method investment in Live Nation may have a material impact on net earnings of Liberty and the Formula One Group.
We have a significant investment in Live Nation that is attributed to the Formula One Group, which we account for under the equity method of accounting. Under the equity method, we report our proportionate share of the net earnings or losses of our equity affiliates in our statement of operations under “share of earnings (losses) of affiliates,” which contributes to our earnings (loss) from continuing operations before income taxes. If the earnings or losses of Live Nation are material in any year, those earnings or losses may have a material effect on our net earnings and those attributed to the Formula One Group. Notwithstanding the impact on our net earnings and those attributed to the Formula One Group, we do not have the ability to cause Live Nation to pay dividends or make other payments or advances to its stockholders, including us. In addition, our investment in Live Nation is in publicly traded securities, which is not reflected at fair value on our balance sheet and is subject to market risk that is not directly reflected in our statement of operations.
The business of Live Nation is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including many of which are similar to those above with respect to the Liberty SiriusXM Group, such as:
|●||“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 faces substantial competition and that competition is likely to increase over time;”|
|●||“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;”|
|●||“Interruption or failure of Sirius XM Holdings’ information technology and communications systems could impair the delivery of its service and harm its business;”|
|●||“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;” and|
|●||“Existing or future laws and regulations could harm Sirius XM Holdings’ business.”|
Risks Relating to the Braves Group
The financial success of the Braves Group will depend, in large part, on the Major League Baseball club, the Braves, achieving on-field success.
The financial results of the Braves Group depend in large part on the ability of the Braves to achieve on-field success. The team’s successes in the 1990s and early 2000s generated significant fan enthusiasm, resulting in sustained ticket, premium seating and concession and merchandise sales, and greater shares of local television and radio audiences during that period. Furthermore, during the 15 seasons between 1991 and 2005, success in the regular season permitted participation in MLB’s postseason 14 times, which provided the franchise with additional revenue and income. While the Braves have made the MLB postseason during four of the past eight seasons, there can be no assurance that the team will perform well or qualify for postseason play during the next season or any season thereafter. Poor on-field performance by the Braves is likely to adversely affect the financial performance of the Braves Group.
The success of the Braves will depend largely on their ability to develop, obtain and retain talented players.
The success of the Braves depends, in large part, on the ability to develop, obtain and retain talented players. The Braves compete with other MLB baseball teams and teams in other countries for available professional players and top player prospects. There can be no assurance that the Braves will be able to retain players upon expiration of their contracts or identify and obtain or develop new players of adequate talent to replace players who retire or are injured, traded, released or lost to free agency. Even if the Braves are able to retain or obtain players who have had successful amateur or professional careers, or develop talented players through the Braves’ minor league affiliates or otherwise, there can be no assurance that such players will perform successfully for the Braves. The 2017 penalties handed down by MLB against the Braves in the international market will also limit the Braves’ ability to develop and obtain players internationally through the 2020 season.
The risk of injuries to key or popular players creates uncertainty and could negatively impact financial results.
A significant portion of the financial results of the Braves Group will be dependent upon the on-field success of the Braves and injuries to players pose risk. An injury sustained by a key player, or an injury occurring at a key point in the season, could negatively impact the team’s performance and decrease the likelihood of postseason play. An injury sustained by a popular player could negatively impact fan enthusiasm, which could negatively impact ticket sales, and other sources of revenue. Furthermore, after the start of each season, all MLB players under contract are generally entitled to all of their contract salary for the season, even after sustaining an injury. Having to compensate a player who is unable to perform for a substantial period of the season, as well as the replacement for the injured player, could create a significant financial burden for the Braves. The Braves have obtained disability insurance for their players signed to multiyear contracts to partially mitigate these risks, but there can be no assurance that such insurance will compensate for all or
substantially all of the costs associated with player injuries and such insurance would not serve to mitigate any potential negative impact on the team’s performance and revenue.
Focus on team performance, and decisions by MLB may negatively impact financial results in the short-term.
Management of Braves Holdings focuses on making operational and business decisions that enhance the on-field performance of the Braves and this may sometimes require implementing strategies and making investments that may negatively impact short-term revenue for the sake of immediate on-field success. For example, in order to improve the short-term performance of the team, management may decide to make trades for highly compensated players and sign free agents or current players to high value contracts, which could significantly increase operating expenses for a given year, and which could adversely impact the trading price of the Liberty Braves common stock. Alternatively, management may decide to focus on longer-term success by investing more heavily in the recruiting and development of younger and less expensive talent, which may negatively affect the team’s current on-field success and in turn could have a negative impact on ticket sales and other sources of revenue. Braves Holdings must also comply with the rules and decisions of the Commissioner of Baseball (the “Commissioner”), which has significant authority over MLB teams and must act in the best interests of MLB as a whole. Such rules and decisions may be inconsistent with strategies adopted by management and may have a negative effect on the near-term value of the Braves Group.
The organizational structure of MLB and its rules and regulations impose substantial restrictions on the operations of Braves Holdings and its subsidiaries.
As a condition to maintaining its MLB franchise, each MLB club must comply with MLB Rules and Regulations. For example, each MLB club is subject to the Major League Constitution, the Major League Rules and the CBA. In addition, each club is required to appoint one “Control Person” who is acceptable to MLB and the other clubs and who has significant authority over club operations and the club’s interaction with MLB. Pursuant to the MLB Rules and Regulations, an MLB club must comply with, among other things, limitations on the amount of debt it can incur, revenue sharing arrangements with the other MLB clubs, commercial arrangements with regard to the national broadcasting of its games and other programming and commercial arrangements relating to the use of its intellectual property. For example, the Braves were not in compliance with the rule governing the amount of debt that is permitted to be issued by an MLB club in 2015 and 2016 and were subject to certain remedial measures, including the repayment of outstanding indebtedness. Similarly, the vote of 75% of the MLB clubs is required for the approval of the sale of any MLB club or relocation of a franchise to another city.
Braves Holdings will be required to abide by any changes to the MLB Rules and Regulations and the adoption of any new MLB Rules and Regulations, irrespective of whether such changes or new arrangements negatively impact Braves Holdings, and in turn the Braves Group, proportionately or disproportionately, as compared with the other MLB clubs. Further, the Commissioner interprets the MLB Rules and Regulations, and Braves Holdings has agreed to submit any and all disputes related to the MLB Rules and Regulations, or disputes involving another MLB club, to the Commissioner as sole arbitrator. The decisions of the Commissioner are binding and not appealable, and therefore Braves Holdings may not resort to the courts or any other means to enforce its rights or contest the application of the MLB Rules and Regulations. No assurance can be given that any changes to the MLB Rules and Regulations, adoption of new MLB Rules and Regulations or decisions made by the Commissioner will not adversely affect the Braves Group and its financial results and have a negative impact upon the value of the Liberty Braves common stock.
The possibility of MLB expansion could create increased competition.
The most recent MLB expansion occurred in 1998. MLB continues to evaluate opportunities to expand into new markets across North America. Because revenue from national broadcasting and licensing agreements are divided equally among all MLB clubs, any such expansion could dilute the revenue realized by the Braves Group from such agreements and increase competition for talented players among MLB clubs. Any expansion in the Southeast region of the United States, in particular, could also draw fan, consumer and viewership interest away from the Braves.
Viewership, and interest in baseball generally, may fluctuate due to factors outside of our control.
Viewership of professional baseball has increased significantly in recent years. However, MLB has gone through periods of decreased popularity in the past, and any future decline in television ratings or attendance for MLB as a whole could have an adverse effect on the Braves Group’s financial results. As sporting and entertainment trends change, fans may be drawn to other spectator sports and entertainment options, in spite of on-field success by the Braves.
Broadcasting rights, both national and local, present an important source of revenue for Braves Holdings, and decreases in this broadcasting revenue could have an adverse effect on the Braves Group’s financial results.
Braves Holdings derives revenue directly from the sale of their local broadcasting rights through individually negotiated carriage agreements. The sale of their national broadcasting rights, together with those of all other MLB teams, is organized through MLB with all such revenue running through MLB’s Central Fund and allocated consistent with the governing documents. Any decline in television ratings, popularity of the Braves specifically, or even MLB as a whole, could adversely affect the revenue that can be derived from the sale of these broadcasting rights. In addition, from time to time, litigation may arise challenging the commercial terms on which this programming is distributed.
Braves Holdings’ need for capital to fund its operations and recent borrowings used or to be used to finance construction and development of the Braves’ stadium, the Development Project and a spring training facility could negatively impact the Braves Group’s financial condition.
Braves Holdings generally funds its operating activities through cash flow from operations and two credit facilities, with a combined borrowing capacity of $185 million. If cash flows become insufficient to cover capital needs, Braves Holdings may be required to take on additional indebtedness, but applicable MLB rules limit the aggregate amount of indebtedness that Braves Holdings may incur. As of December 31, 2019, Braves Holdings had $45 million outstanding under its operating credit facilities.
Braves Holdings has, directly or indirectly through subsidiaries, taken on a significant level of debt and increased expenses related to the development of the Braves’ stadium, the Development Project and a new spring training facility. As of December 31, 2019, Braves Holdings had approximately $304 million outstanding under various debt instruments for construction and other stadium-related costs, $180 million outstanding under various credit facilities and loans for the Development Project and $30 million outstanding under a credit facility for the spring training facility. As of December 31, 2019, approximately $136 million of capacity remained available under the credit facilities and loans for the Development Project and spring training facility.
These expenditures have increased, and will continue to increase the Braves Group’s costs and indebtedness in the near term, which could have a negative impact on Braves Holdings’ credit worthiness and the value of the Liberty Braves common stock.
The financial performance of the Braves Group may be materially adversely affected if it does not experience the anticipated benefits of the Development Project in the near term or at all.
The Braves Group is incurring a significant amount of capital expenditures and indebtedness in connection with the Development Project, which includes construction and development of the Development Project. Although the Braves Group believes that the new stadium and mixed use development will result in a material increase in revenue over the short and long term, including as a result of increased game attendance and rental income from the mixed use development, no assurance can be given that attendance will increase as anticipated or that the potential benefits of the mixed-use development will be fully realized. To the extent that the anticipated benefits of the Development Project do not materialize and the Braves Group does not experience the expected increase in revenue, the Braves Group’s increased costs, including its new debt service obligations, could materially adversely affect the Braves Group’s financial results, which is likely to suppress the value of the Liberty Braves common stock.
Development activities, such as those associated with the Development Project, are subject to significant risks.
Risks associated with real estate development projects, such as the Development Project, relate to, among other items, adverse changes in national market conditions (which can result from political, regulatory, economic or other factors), changes in interest rates, competition for, and the financial condition of, tenants, the cyclical nature of property markets, adverse local market conditions, changes in the availability of debt financing, real estate tax rates and other operating expenses, zoning laws and other governmental rules and fiscal policies, energy prices, population trends, risks and operating problems arising out of the presence of certain construction materials, acts of God, uninsurable losses and other factors which are beyond the control of the developer and may make the underlying investments economically unattractive. In addition, development activities involve the risk that construction may not be completed within budget or on schedule because of cost overruns, work stoppages, shortages of building materials, the inability of contractors to perform their obligations under construction contracts, defects in plans and specifications or various other factors, including natural disasters. Any of these risks could result in substantial unanticipated delays or expenses associated with the Development Project, which could have an adverse effect on the Braves Group’s financial condition and suppress the value of the Liberty Braves common stock.
The Braves Group has limited operating history managing mixed use development projects.
Management of Braves Holdings has a long history as an operator of a professional baseball franchise, but has only been managing the mixed use development project since the opening of the Development Project in 2017. Although management of Braves Holdings has engaged with real estate developers and other real estate experts, management of Braves Holdings may not initially have the expertise necessary to fully realize the projected benefits of the mixed use development. Management’s limited experience, among other things, may result in the Braves Group being unable to achieve its goals for the Deve