Today, 12:19 PM
- Criticized for slow performance on its low-cost Internet-service rollout, Comcast (CMCSA -0.4%) is making moves to upgrade its Internet Essentials program, increasing speeds and expanding eligibility.
- Comcast created the program in 2011 as part of a condition it agreed to for approval of its buyout of NBCUniversal. It had offered 5 Mbps service for $10/month to families of children who qualified for discounted school lunches.
- Comcast is doubling the speed of the service, to 10 Mbps, and is testing a program for low-income seniors to expand its reach.
Yesterday, 1:19 PM
- One big film question coming into August was whether Tom Cruise was too old to still carry an action movie; Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA, VIAB) answered its own way, dominating the box office with $56M domestically, including $20.3M on Friday, a first-day high for the franchise.
- That's well ahead of $40M projections and even further ahead of another debut, the remade Vacation (NYSE:TWX), which drew $14.9M, good for second place.
- They were followed by a series of films doing repeat business: Ant-Man (NYSE:DIS), third with $12.6M ($132.2M in three weeks); Minions (NASDAQ:CMCSA), fourth with $12.2M ($287.4M in four weeks); and Pixels (NYSE:SNE) in fifth with $10.4M ($45.6M in its two weeks).
- Worldwide, the new M:I has hit $121M -- adding $65M internationally to its $56M domestic. The film's outperformed the franchise's previous entry, Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol by 49% in the same markets.
- Rogue Nation is set to open in China on Sept. 8; it was the biggest international market for Ghost Protocol, with $101M in receipts.
Fri, Jul. 31, 1:21 PM
- NBC (CMCSA +0.9%) isn't showing ads for Sling TV (DISH -0.4%) in some markets, even though the other Big Four networks are doing so, Dish Network says.
- Earlier this month, Sling TV unveiled its first nationwide campaign, comparing old-line TV providers to childhood bullies.
- NBC confirmed its locally owned stations in New York, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., are declining to run the ads.
- "Maybe these commercials hit a little too close to home for them when we call out tactics like price hikes, equipment fees and just all around terrible customer service," says Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch.
- In April, Verizon said that Walt Disney was refusing to carry ads in some markets for its new "skinny" bundles, saying the new channel lineups violated carriage agreements.
Thu, Jul. 30, 6:22 PM
- As part of an opinion purge as it refocuses on news, MSNBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has canceled three hours of afternoon programming with plans to replace it with a hard-news block.
- The Cycle, Now with Alex Wagner and The Ed Show have been canceled, and most participants not returning to the network (Alex Wagner and The Cycle's Ari Melber excepted).
- Meet the Press host Chuck Todd will begin a new program in the 5 p.m. hour, and Brian Williams is set to join the network in coming weeks as its breaking-news anchor as his suspension ends.
- Low ratings at the network were one problem that NBC News chief Andrew Lack faced when he returned to NBCUniversal in March. MSNBC's daytime schedule this month drew fewer viewers in the key adults 25-54 demographic than Fox News, CNN and HLN.
- Previously: NBC confirms Lester Holt as lead evening anchor; Williams apologizes (Jun. 18 2015)
- Previously: CNN: Williams to stay at NBC, but not as lead anchor (Jun. 17 2015)
- Previously: Lack officially returning to reassume control of NBC news (Mar. 06 2015)
Thu, Jul. 30, 11:23 AM
- NBCUniversal (CMCSA -0.2%) has a "handshake" deal to invest $250M in online publisher BuzzFeed, which would value it around $1.5B, Re/code reports.
- NBCU also is working on a stake in Vox Media with a deal that would value Vox at $850M. Comcast already owns a piece of Vox, about 14%, via Comcast Ventures.
- The deal would be a result of feelers that Comcast has been sending out to a number of millennial-focused new media companies -- including not only BuzzFeed but Vice Media and Business Insider -- in an effort to jump-start its own learning curve on content development.
- Previously: Comcast on the acquisition hunt to court young consumers (Jul. 24 2015)
- Previously: Report: Comcast re-stirring talks around buying Vox Media (May. 27 2015)
Mon, Jul. 27, 8:03 PM
- Media companies continue to choose sides in a battle for daily fantasy sports dollars, with the latest move being a $300M funding round for DraftKings led by Fox Networks Group (FOX, FOXA).
- Fox Networks is expected to have put in $150M for 11% of DraftKings, which would value the startup post-money at more than $1.2B.
- DraftKings' key competitor, FanDuel, drew $275M in a round earlier this month (post-money valuation of almost $1.3B), with heavy backing from funds connected to Turner Sports and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) as well as Google Capital. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) was already a backer, through NBC Sports.
- Fox's new investment in DraftKings has a heavy advertising element, similar to DraftKings' deal with ESPN: It will spend $250M in advertising across Fox Properties.
- The two companies -- whose games changed fantasy sports with a daily, for-cash aspets -- are runaway leaders in an industry expected to produce $2.5B in just U.S. revenue each year by 2020. DraftKings generated $30M in revenue last year; FanDuel, which had a two-year head start, pulled $57M in sales last year.
Mon, Jul. 27, 1:24 PM
- Adam Sandler's Pixels opened to a slack $24M at the domestic box office, allowing Marvel's Ant-Man (DIS -0.5%) to crawl away with the crown for another week.
- Ant-Man drew $24.8M to bring its two-week haul to $106M. Critically slammed Pixels, for its part, barely outdrew Minions (CMCSA -1.4%), which pulled $22.1M in its third week to finish No. 3.
- Pixels' merely-OK showing is a setback for Sony Pictures (SNE -2.1%), sitting around eighth place among major distributors this year and looking for its first $100M film since The Equalizer.
- Trainwreck (NASDAQ:CMCSA) made $17.3M to bring its two-week total to $61.5M. Among the weekend's other key debuts, boxing film Southpaw (Weinstein Group) beat Paper Towns (FOX -1%, FOXA -0.9%), $16.5M to $12.5M, despite playing in fewer theaters. The two films were No. 5 and No. 6 in domestic receipts respectively.
- Previously: Sony hoping for breakout with videogame film 'Pixels' (Jul. 24 2015)
Mon, Jul. 27, 9:52 AM
- Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) have renewed their carriage agreement -- a move that wasn't without bumps as Discovery opposed the cable giant's Time Warner Cable takeover earlier this year.
- The companies say they've signed a "long-term, comprehensive" renewal, including TV Everywhere rights.
- Both stocks are trading down with the broader U.S. market: CMCSA -1.9%; DISCA -0.6%.
Fri, Jul. 24, 10:02 PM
- The weekend box office battle should come down to old-school videogames vs. Marvel heroes, as various projections see Adam Sandler alien-invasion comedy Pixels (NYSE:SNE) drawing $25M-$30M and Marvel's Ant-Man (NYSE:DIS) in the mid-20s.
- Ripped by critics, Pixels is Sony's next hope to be its second $100M-grosser this year, since The Equalizer closed in January just over $100M domestically.
- The third spot should come down to teenage romance Paper Towns (FOX, FOXA), estimated in the high teens to low twenties, or Minions (NASDAQ:CMCSA), still powering along after amassing $239M in two weeks for Universal, which also has Trainwreck looking to keep strong legs after its solid $30.2M opening.
Fri, Jul. 24, 4:16 AM
- Seeking access to younger audiences, Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) NBCUniversal is scouting out several new media companies for potential deals, WSJ reports.
- Comcast has engaged in preliminary discussions with several online publishers including Vice Media, BuzzFeed and Business Insider, and has discussed increasing its roughly 14% stake in Vox Media.
- The talks are all at an early stage and it isn’t clear if any of the deals might come to fruition.
Thu, Jul. 23, 11:18 PM
- As six Hollywood studios fell into the crosshairs of Europe's regulators -- who filed formal antitrust charges today related to pay TV access -- Disney (NYSE:DIS), for one, promised a vigorous fight.
- Responses were more straightforward, or absent, among the other targets: NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB), Sony Pictures Entertainment (NYSE:SNE), 20th Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) and Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX).
- Along with Sky UK (OTCQX:SKYAY), the six are charged with creating improper licensing deals that prohibited viewers outside the UK and Ireland from accessing paid Sky programming, blocking much of Europe from watching U.S. films and TV.
- "The impact of the commission’s analysis is destructive of consumer value and we will oppose the proposed action vigorously," said a Disney spokesperson.
- The charges are the result of 18 months' investigation by the European Commission. They may not stop at Sky, as investigations are ongoing into pay TV providers in Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Geographic limitations on digital viewing is seen to be holding back the unity of a fragmented European market.
- The bottom line: The EU could fine companies up to 10% of global annual revenue.
- Today: DIS -0.5%; CMCSA -3.2%; VIA -0.7%; VIAB -0.3%; SNE +2.9%; FOX -1.4%; FOXA -1.4%; TWX -1.2%; OTCQX:SKYAY -1.7%.
Thu, Jul. 23, 3:19 PM
- Building on a stellar year, Universal Studios (CMCSA -3.3%) says it's greenlighting a Jurassic World sequel to come to theaters June 22, 2018 -- news that star Chris Pratt hinted at during press events, saying "They have me for I think 38 movies or something."
- Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard will return as stars, and director Colin Trevorrow will co-write the screenplay with Derek Connolly.
- The news comes in concert with Jurassic World becoming the third-highest grossing picture of all time, its $1.52B worldwide total just passing Marvel's The Avengers. It'll likely settle there: It has just one territory left to open (Japan), ticket sales are slowing as expected, and the top two have a big cushion (Avatar, with $2.79B, and Titanic, with $2.18B).
- The fifth-highest grosser is Furious 7 ($1.51B), which means Universal has put two films in the all-time top five just this summer.
- Previously: Comcast -2.8% as investors see mixed Q2 results (Jul. 23 2015)
Thu, Jul. 23, 3:03 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has fallen 2.8% in the wake of this morning's second-quarter earnings release.
- On an earnings call, execs said the company is ramping up deployment of its X1 platform, deploying 30K set-top boxes each day and "pushing to be even faster."
- "We continue to believe X1 is an absolute game changer, better connecting our customers to content serving as a platform for so much more," said CEO Brian Roberts, noting that VOD usage is up and churn is down as the deployments proceed.
- Comcast added customer relationships on a net basis (+31,000) in what is traditionally a weak quarter in that area, and Cable CEO Neil Smit pointed to lower churn and gave some credit to customer service improvements: "The percent of the customers who are calling and speaking to agents is down 15%. ... So our waiting times are down and we're getting it right."
- Smit confirmed the company would be doing a market trial of DOCSIS 3.1 in Q4. The technology has the blue-sky capability to deliver 10 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps up, though those speeds are a good ways off.
- Citigroup's Jason Bazinet tempered his reaction: "While video net losses beat, broadband net adds were a touch light” and “NBCU, while solid, saw mixed results ... In all we expect a muted reaction to the quarterly results.”
- Previously: Comcast -0.9% premarket after in-line Q2 boosted by entertainment (Jul. 23 2015)
- Previously: Comcast at INTX: $300M investment in customer service (May. 05 2015)
Thu, Jul. 23, 3:01 PM
Thu, Jul. 23, 9:06 AM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is off 0.9% premarket after Q2 profits were in line and revenue picked up as the company cut its video subscriber losses even as some other areas slowed down.
- For the first time, the company has more broadband subscribers than video subscribers. On the media side, a monster hit in Jurassic World added to profits.
- Net income of $2.14B rose 7.3% Y/Y on revenue growth of more than 11%.
- Cable Communications revenue of $11.73B by segment: Video, $5.4B (up 3.7%); High-speed Internet, $3.1B (up 10%); Voice, $903M (down 2.1%); Business Services, $1.16B (up 20.4%); Advertising, $582M (down 0.9%); Other, $551M (up 10.9%).
- At NBCUniversal, revenues of $7.23B by segment: Cable networks, $2.45B (down 1%); broadcast television, $1.8B (down 0.2%); Filmed Entertainment, $2.27B (up 92.7%); Theme Parks, $773M (up 25.7%).
- Net video subscribers declined by 69,000 -- an improvement of 52% from last year's decline -- while high-speed Internet customers were a net positive 180,000 (down 11%) and voice customers a net +49,000. Overall, customer relationships were up 31,000 to a total of 27.3M, driven by bundle plays (single-product customers -56,000; two-product customers +46,000, three-product customers +42,000).
- Press Release
Thu, Jul. 23, 7:03 AM
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