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Yesterday, 2:02 PM
- NBCUniversal (CMCSA -2.6%) is shaking up staff in its cable programming operations, rearranging execs across its biggest channels in a long-awaited response from cable chief Bonnie Hammer to changing viewing habits.
- Bill McGoldrick, formerly exec VP of original content at Syfy, is becoming exec VP of scripted content for NBCU Cable Entertainment's channels group, covering all scripted work at 10 channels.
- Dave Howe (president of Syfy) takes on a channel-spanning job as well, becoming president of strategy and commercial growth. Backfilling at Syfy, USA Network chief Chris McCumber takes over the science-fiction channel.
- It means a centralization and consolidation that will likely result in some executive departures in the future, Hammer acknowledged -- but also build a better system for determining where a scripted show has the best chance at success across the cable group.
- “We have been trying to figure out a structure that makes sense when you look at what is happening in cable at large, and how content is developed, sold and monetized domestically and globally. Now’s the time to do this," Hammer told Variety.
Mon, Feb. 8, 7:09 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) shares pulled off a good Monday, finishing just a penny down from yesterday while the broader market slipped 1.4%.
- Argus upgraded the company to Buy after saying cord-cutting worries seem "overblown" with a look at the metrics. The firm's analyst Joseph Bonner set a price target of $72, 21% upside from today's close of $59.40.
- Comcast added 89,000 net video subscribers, its best result in that metric in nine years. Combined with braodband strength and rising ARPU, it's an indicator of the health of the company's cable business, Bonner says.
- "Comcast has been in the cross-hairs of investors concerned about the secular strength of the 'cord-cutter/cord-never' phenomenon among millennials; however, based on the company’s recent subscriber metrics, we believe that these concerns are overblown," he writes.
- NBCUniversal has changed into a growth engine, he says, and shareholder returns are in focus with a dividend CAGR of 21.5% over the past two years and strong buybacks.
Mon, Feb. 8, 3:06 PM
- With millions of viewers taking in the de facto national holiday of the Super Bowl, box office receipts slipped 8% Y/Y and those who did get out had little to excite them aside from a fighting panda and the Coen Bros.
- Total box office was $93.5M, compared to an American Sniper-boosted $101.8M last year. Kung Fu Panda 3 (DWA -1.9%, Fox distributing) led easily for the second week in a row, drawing $21M to bring its total to $69M. Meanwhile, the Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar! (CMCSA -0.9%) performed as expected (lightly) with $11.4M to fall into No. 2.
- The Revenant (FOX -2.8%, FOXA -3%) with $7.1M, again edged Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS -3.9%) and its $6.9M for third place. New films The Choice (LGF +0.3%) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies disappointed with $6.1M and $5.2M respectively.
- In Star Wars marks, the film crested $900M domestically to add to its best-ever total, and crossed the $2B global-gross milestone over the weekend, getting it closer -- but not too close -- to Titanic's $2.19B.
- With a $178M gap to cross, it may take a long engagement for Star Wars to surpass Titanic's global numbers, and it's unlikely to catch Avatar ($2.78B) for the all-time global crown. Disney reports earnings tomorrow.
Fri, Feb. 5, 7:04 PM
- Don't count on broadcast networks' live musical events going away anytime soon, as Fox (FOX -4.5%, FOXA -3.9%) has nailed a hit with its production of Grease: Live this week.
- In live-plus-three-day viewing, the live musical grew from initial estimates to total 14.6M viewers. That's a strong gain from 12.2M first-day viewers, as delayed views on VOD, Hulu and Fox Now (somewhat ironically) pumped up the live show's initial total.
- It also beat NBC's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) latest production, The Wiz, which drew about 11.1M total viewers in December (though The Wiz was up against NFL football). NBC has pioneered the investment in big-production live musical events, drawing millions to watch The Sound of Music Live, Peter Pan and The Wiz.
- Fox will encore Grease: Live on March 27 -- Easter Sunday -- and is also working on Tyler Perry's biblical The Passion for March, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show later this year.
- Previously: NBC sets 'The Wiz' as next live musical event (Mar. 30 2015)
Fri, Feb. 5, 1:57 PM
- Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT) is pulling back a bit, down 3.5%, after a strong 6.9% gain yesterday post-earnings.
- Stephens upgraded the firm to Overweight from Equal Weight and raised its price target from $52 to $63, implying 30% upside from its current price of $48.29.
- Valuation is improved after a recent sell-off (Level 3 has declined 10% over the past month), says Stephens' Barry McCarver, who notes revenue growth is picking up after the company achieved its synergy target from integrating TW Telecom.
- “EMEA and Latin America should continue to improve as the company invests in its network and has opportunities for more acquisitions," McCarver notes. "Headwinds from International revenue have neutralized and may become tailwinds this year.”
- The company guided to significantly higher cash flow in the coming year, and some analysts think that could mean not only a possible repurchase program but also acquisitions.
- The company could go after privately held XO Communications, says Cowen's Colby Synesael, or it could be a target itself -- for a buyer like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA).
- Previously: Level 3 up 7% as revenues, profits grow (Feb. 04 2016)
- Previously: Level 3 EPS in-line, misses on revenue (Feb. 04 2016)
Wed, Feb. 3, 12:45 PM
- On Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Q4 earnings call, the company made its next step into telecom service by confirming it will file as a bidder in the FCC's wireless spectrum auction.
- They're only going to act against AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile "if the price is right" after they evaluate what ends up available.
- Shares are up 4.1% now and are touching their highest point in over a month.
- The company confirmed it paid $130M for 475 acres "adjacent to an existing theme park" -- likely a chunk of land alongside Universal Orlando, which has been pinched for space, and which could provide room for multiple parks, hotels and studio operations.
- Outside of any spectrum spending, Comcast has added $5B to its buyback program -- on the low side of expectations, but CFO Mike Cavanagh said it wouldn't go lower due to auction outlays.
- It also increased its dividend 10% to $1.10 (annualized).
- Previously: Comcast results close to estimates, video and high-speed adds strong (Feb. 03 2016)
- Previously: Comcast declares $0.275 dividend (Feb. 03 2016)
- Previously: Comcast misses by $0.01, beats on revenue (Feb. 03 2016)
Wed, Feb. 3, 7:37 AM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is pointing higher in premarket action after delivering largely in-line Q4 results.
- Operating income rose 5.7% Y/Y to $3.787B.
- Cable Communications revenue was up 5.9% to $11.31B. Cable rev growth breakdown: Video +4.4% to $5.19B; High-speed Internet +9.8% to $2.9B; Voice -1.7% to $916M; Business Services +18.9% to $1.1B; Advertising -9.3% to $703M; Other +6.4% to $537M.
- NBCUniversal revenue rose 13%, led by a 26% jump with the Filmed Entertainment segment off of strong home entertainment performances for Minions and Jurassic World. Cable networks revenue was up 3.4% to $2.327B.
- Overall customer relationships increased 281K, up 58% Y/Y to 27.7M, with high-speed Internet adds of 460K the best mark for the quarter in nine years. Video customer net adds of 89K were also tallied.
- Capex spending was up 19% to $2.6B during the quarter.
- Previously: Comcast misses by $0.01, beats on revenue (Feb. 03 2016)
- CMCSA +0.53% premarket to $54.88.
Wed, Feb. 3, 7:22 AM
Wed, Feb. 3, 7:05 AM
Tue, Feb. 2, 5:30 PM
Tue, Feb. 2, 12:37 PM
- After Walt Disney (DIS -1.7%) floated trial balloons last year over demand-based pricing at its theme parks, Universal Studios (CMCSA -1.6%) is becoming the first to fully launch the model, anticipating heavy crowds at the April 7 opening of its attraction "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter."
- In Universal's case, visitors buying at the gate will still pay $95. But booking online for low-demand days can save park visitors up to $20. Discounts will still be smaller on weekends and peak demand periods.
- The move can help Universal manage demand and comes with perks for customers: Those who book online can enter the Harry Potter area an hour before the rest of the park opens.
- Harry Potter attractions have been a big revenue driver for Comcast, and no doubt Disney is watching closely: It may want to better manage demand for its "Star Wars" land when it opens in Anaheim.
- Previously: Disney polls guests on demand-priced park ticket scheme (May. 28 2015)
Mon, Feb. 1, 4:42 PM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) and 20th Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) have led a $50M funding round for Atom Tickets, a firm with a mobile movie-ticketing app that allows for advance purchases of movie tickets and even concessions.
- Disney Chief Strategy Officer Kevin Mayer pointed to social as the root of their interest: “Their technology not only adds value to the consumer, but also helps movie studios and theaters by providing deep consumer insights, advanced analytics, and concession and ticket couponing.” It allows for groups to coordinate moviegoing while still being able to split the ticket prices.
- Dynamic pricing -- which could help theaters fill unsold seats in screenings -- may be in the future as well. The app is trying to cross moats around well-known brands in Fandango, owned by NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA), and MovieTickets.com.
- Meanwhile Fandango has bought streaming service M-GO from joint venture owners Technicolor (OTCQX:TCLRY) and DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA). Terms weren't disclosed.
- It wants to build "new moviegoing products and services," and NBCUniversal has talked about working with Technicolor on virtual and augmented reality.
Mon, Feb. 1, 1:48 PM
- NBC (CMCSA -0.4%) and CBS (CBS +0.5%) will split Thursday Night Football coverage, along with the NFL Network, in an agreement reported by The Wall Street Journal.
- Each broadcast networks will pay about $225M and each get to telecast five games, which would be simulcast on NFL Network -- which will also get some exclusive broadcasts in the deal.
- CBS had a solo deal for the reliable Thursday night ratings that was reportedly for $300M, meaning a big increase for the NFL -- one that's par for the course with sports media rights over the past year.
- The league also plans an online package to add another revenue stream from the games.
- Previously: CBS may share 'Thursday Night Football' under new NFL terms (Jan. 12 2016)
Mon, Feb. 1, 3:24 AM
- Just how much longer should cord-cutters be able to watch episodes from the current seasons of TV shows on Hulu (CMCSA, FOX/FOXA, DIS)?
- That is one question that has emerged in negotiations between media giant Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) and Hulu, which have been heating up lately, according to WSJ.
- The two sides have been in talks since late last year about Time Warner buying into the streaming site as a part-owner.
Fri, Jan. 29, 7:36 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is increasingly charging extra fees to its broadband customers using heavy amounts of data -- in what analysts consider an insurance policy against cord-cutting, and an increasing annoyance to aficionados of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).
- In nearly all of the company's test markets, customers who exceed 300 GB/month pay $10 for extra increments of 50 GB, while in some cities, they can pay $30-$35/month more for unlimited data.
- Comcast argues that only about 8% of customers exceed the limit, and that usage-based billing is about fairness. “We’re just trialing ways to have a balanced relationship,” CEO Brian Roberts said last month. “I don’t think it’s illogical or something people should be paranoid about.”
- What may be most problematic are net neutrality objections raised when Comcast's own streaming service doesn't count toward data caps for its customers.
- Comcast's 300 GB wall is "very restrictive," says Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH) chief Roger Lynch, and "clearly designed to discourage customers from using over-the-top services."
- Previously: Wheeler: FCC's look at data exemptions is still lower level (Jan. 28 2016)
Fri, Jan. 29, 11:22 AM
- A Trumpless debate resulted in the second-smallest TV ratings of the Republican debate cycle, though Fox News (FOX +1.5%, FOXA +1.7%) will be pointing to the fact that it still beat rivals' coverage of Trump's counter-debate rally.
- Last night's debate was seen by 11M-13M viewers, an 8.4 rating -- beating only last month's Fox Business debate among the GOP tilts (which, to be fair, have all been heavy in traditional terms). Fox News' first debate in August drew a crush of nearly 24M viewers.
- Even with Trump skipping, Fox easily beat coverage provided by CNN (TWX +0.6%) and MSNBC (CMCSA +1.8%) of Trump's veterans' rally, and had structured ad deals such that the Donald's absence wouldn't sting the pocketbook.
- Updated 12:45 p.m.: Final numbers show 12.5M viewers for the debate between 9 and 11 p.m. ET, while CNN and MSNBC had about 2.7M viewers combined.
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