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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.
Thu, Jan. 28, 7:14 PM
- FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that the agency's look into so-called "zero rating" -- telecom providers exempting some services (sometimes paid) from subscriber limits -- is informational, and that he hasn't attended any meetings on it yet.
- The talks are at the bureau level, he says: "I am not at these meetings. Nobody from the office of the chairman is in these meetings. They're gathering information and we'll see what happens from there."
- The agency has been meeting with key providers, including T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), AT&T (NYSE:T) and surely Verizon (NYSE:VZ), now that it's rolling out its "FreeBee" sponsored data solution.
- Meanwhile, Republican Commissioners Michael O'Rielly and Ajit Pai are expressing their concerns to the "inquistors" over a procedure they see as unnecessary.
- Despite swirling concerns over net neutrality, Wheeler has praised T-Mobile's Binge On video streaming offering as "highly innovative and highly competitive."
- Previously: Verizon informs FCC of sponsored data plans (Jan. 20 2016)
- Previously: FCC summoning Internet providers to talk data policies (Dec. 17 2015)
- Previously: FCC chairman: T-Mobile video initiative 'highly competitive' (Nov. 19 2015)
Thu, Jan. 28, 3:49 PM
- Fox News (FOX -1.4%, FOXA -1.6%) scored a ratings coup last summer when it drew the highest viewership ever to a primary debate in the first GOP debate, with the help of poll leader Donald Trump.
- As the channel prepared to show its second debate tonight, Trump's reignited feud with Fox News and withdrawal threatened to dampen those ratings -- and in fresh news, CNN (TWX -2.1%) and MSNBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) plan to cover at least some of Trump's competing event tonight.
- MSNBC says it will cover a speech by Trump in the 9 p.m. hour, Variety's Brian Steinberg says, while CNN might treat it as a live news event.
- Previously: Fox debate draws crush of 24M viewers; Stewart gets 3.5M for finale (Aug. 07 2015)
Thu, Jan. 28, 12:35 PM
- Hulu is shoring up its documentary cred with a deal to become the exclusive home of documentaries by IFC Films after their theatrical release.
- The agreement covers documentaries put out by IFC Films, IFC Midnight, and Sundance Selects. The first film covered will be King Georges, about French restaurateur Georges Perrier, followed by City of Gold (about food critic Jonathan Gold) and Sundance premiere Weiner (about former congressman Anthony Weiner).
- Weiner, though, will hit Hulu (CMCSA, FOX/FOXA, DIS) after a 15-month exclusive run on Showtime (which also can be added to Hulu).
- The documentaries will be available on Hulu's Limited Commercial and No Commercial plans.
Wed, Jan. 27, 1:09 PM
- The FCC is planning to allow for open competition in pay-TV set-top boxes, which would open a new front against multichannel providers for hardware makers including Apple and Alphabet as well as TiVo.
- A document shows that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler plans a proposal that would see a Feb. 18 vote, to open up a market where Americans spend $20B a year to lease equipment from their providers -- an average of $231/year.
- The proposal also looks to prevent pay TV providers from using security systems to prevent competition. An industry trade group opposes competition in the device market, saying it wouldn't provide new programming or lower TV bills.
- The entry of Apple and Google could mean that traditional set-top functions are provided by a tablet instead.
- Set-top box rental fees have jumped 185% since 1994, the FCC's document says, while the cost of TVs, computers and mobile phones has fallen 90% in that time frame.
- Updated 1:11 p.m.: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler tweets: "It is time for us to unlock the set-top box market, as we did w/ Ma Bell phones & devices on wireless networks."
- Pay TV players: CMCSA, TWC, CHTR, CVC/OTCPK:ATCEY, T, DISH, VZ, FTR, CTL
Tue, Jan. 26, 2:41 PM
- In cable ratings, Fox News (FOX +2.9%, FOXA +2.6%) has reclaimed its crown following a newsy event to cover: Winter Storm Jonas hitting the East Coast.
- The network averaged 2.1M viewers to lead cable nets for the second week out of three this year, just ahead of HGTV (SNI +2.7%), with 1.7M on average. Third place was split between USA Network (CMCSA +1.1%) and TBS (TWX +1.8%).
- Fox News also led on a 24-hour basis (with real help from the storm, as all-day ratings can be dominated by children's programming). In the adults 18-49 demographic, TBS was the leader.
- The top two single programs were nabbed by Discovery (DISCA +4.2%) -- Gold Rush with 4.5M viewers, and Alaska: The Last Frontier with 3.7M, just ahead of USA's 8 p.m. hour of WWE Monday Night Raw.
Mon, Jan. 25, 12:17 PM
- Snowy film The Revenant (FOX -1.2%, FOXA -1.3%) led a box office weekend that was held down itself by a winter blizzard that crippled East Cost travel and dampened receipts.
- The Leonardo DiCaprio film drew $16M to top Star Wars: The Force Awakens' $14.3M (DIS -0.9%) and the $12.97M of Ride Along 2 (CMCSA -1%).
- Overall receipts fell 32% from last week -- and down 29% Y/Y -- to a total of $113M. Moviegoing was cut by up to 12% with some 400 locations affected by Winter Storm Jonas.
- The week's best debut came from Dirty Grandpa (LGF -2.3%), starring Zac Efron and Robert De Niro, which grossed $11.5M.
- The Force Awakens, meanwhile, pushed its record domestic gross to $880M ($120M better than No. 2 Avatar), and slowing worldwide grosses came to $1.94B, now about $247M behind all-time No. 2 Titanic.
- Previously: 'Ride Along 2' unseats 'Star Wars' atop U.S. box office (Jan. 19 2016)
Wed, Jan. 20, 6:50 PM
- Football is holding up its end of the bargain in winter TV ratings again, boosting NBC, CBS and ESPN.
- College football's championship game on ESPN (DIS -1.5%) endured a slip in Nielsen ratings from last year, but its 25.67M viewers were good enough for third place in the Jan. 11-17 period.
- That game was beaten in the week only by playoff football. NBC's (CMCSA -1.2%) broadcast of an NFC playoff game between Green Bay and Arizona was No. 1 with 33.73M viewers, and a CBS (CBS -3%) postgame show for the AFC's Pittsburgh-Denver game was second with 31.17M viewers.
- Games, pregame and postgame shows made up seven of the top 10 shows, booting Fox Business' (FOX -3.1%, FOXA -2.7%) GOP debate to 11th place with 11.09M viewers.
- Of non-football programs that broke the top 10, it was all CBS again: 60 Minutes (featuring Charlie Rose's interview with Sean Penn, and taking a lead-in from the Pittsburgh-Denver game) took the No. 6 spot with 20.62M viewers; The Big Bang Theory was seventh with 15.75M; and Madam Secretary was ninth with 11.87M.
Wed, Jan. 20, 3:49 PM
- Universal Pictures (CMCSA -1.3%) is reporting that it's seen its most profitable movie ever, in a bit of a surprise: Minions.
- That's against Jurassic World and Furious 7, both of which grossed more than the comedy in 2015 ($1.67B and $1.51B worldwide respectively).
- Minions, a spinoff from the company's animated Despicable Me series, earned $1.16B worldwide after reportedly costing just $74M to produce, and made for the studio's third $1B grosser in a year, a first for Universal. Film finances aren't transparent but the profitability of Minions as well as Despicable Me 2 point to a productive relationship with producers Illumination Entertainment.
- The three films were anchors for a banner year for Universal in which it led the box office for the first time since at least 2000.
Tue, Jan. 19, 1:54 PM
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS +0.2%) fell out of the top spot in U.S. box office in this, its fifth weekend of release -- yielding the lead to Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio.
- In totals including the Martin Luther King Day holiday, Ride Along 2 (CMCSA +0.3%) drew $41.6M to lead U.S. grosses, followed by The Revenant (FOX +1.1%, FOXA +1.5%) with $39M. The Force Awakens was No. 3 with $32.6M.
- Paramount (VIA +3.9%, VIAB +4.9%) held down the next two spots on the chart, with new film 13 Hours drawing $19.7M and Daddy's Home pulling $12M.
- The Force Awakens shed theaters for the first time, but added to its all-time best domestic total, now $858.5M, and became just the fifth film ever to cross the $1B mark in international gross ($1.012B). Its worldwide total comes to $1.871B, good for the third all-time spot behind Titanic's $2.187B.
- While Nomura estimates $230M to come for The Force Awakens in China (and Stifel laid in a high expectation of $450M), the movie was bumped from a large number of the country's screens to make room for home-grown films -- it's already lost its box office lead there to Boonie Bears 3 -- and may top out at $150M or even less.
- While eyes were on China, the world's No. 2 film market where The Force Awakens crested $100M, it spent its fifth week at No. 1 in Japan with a cumulative total of more than $74M.
Tue, Jan. 19, 1:10 PM
- Major League Baseball and broadcast partners Comcast (CMCSA +0.4%) and DirecTV (T +1.4%) have averted a trial scheduled for today, settling a class-action lawsuit over telecasts.
- The suit, filed by baseball fans in 2012, argued that baseball's system for granting exclusive broadcast rights to regional networks was a violation of antitrust law, crimping choices and raising prices.
- Over the winter, MLB said in a court filing that it would be making changes for 2016, introducing single-team streaming packages so out-of-market fans could follow their teams without paying for other games.
Fri, Jan. 15, 7:35 PM
- Media General (MEG -1.5%) and NBC (CMCSA -2.1%) have announced a renewal of their affiliation agreement in 13 markets.
- Media General's NBC stations get synchronized under a common agreement, now including affiliates in a number of states (Florida, Ohio, Texas, Michigan, Virginia, Kansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Iowa and Massachusetts).
- Meanwhile, in a strange turn, Media General's WNCN in Raleigh, N.C., has changed affiliation to CBS (CBS -1.8%) from NBC -- while the market's former CBS affiliate, Capitol Broadcasting's WRAL, is taking over the NBC affiliation.
- It's a bit of a swap, though not a transaction between NBC and CBS. One factor Variety points to is a dispute over how much CBS should have gotten from WRAL in reverse compensation -- a factor that had previously led CBS to switch affiliates in Indianapolis.
- NBC, meanwhile, tells Variety it got beachfront property, saying WRAL is "without doubt one of the most powerful and highly rated affiliates in the nation."
Thu, Jan. 14, 8:33 PM
- Ad sales for August's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are on a pace to exceed $1B, the amount spent on the London games one Olympiad ago, NBC (CMCSA +2.8%) says.
- Advertisers are coming from a range of industries, including automotive, tech and healthcare, and digital ad sales are expected to be up 50% from the London games with significant changes having taken place in TV viewing patterns.
- NBC's Seth Winter predicted last year that NBC would top London's ad sales and deals made in the past two months are bearing that out, he says.
Thu, Jan. 14, 5:17 PM
- "The reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated," says NBCUniversal's (CMCSA +2.8%) Alan Wurtzel in a fairly full-throated defense of broadcast TV viewing at the Television Critic Association's press tour.
- In doing so, he took on Netflix (NFLX +0.5%) and revealed some data that's never made public about viewing of key series on the streaming service.
- Netflix has a "very different business model -— their business model is to make you write a check the next month," said Wurtzel. "I don't believe there's enough stuff on Netflix that is broad enough and consistent enough to affect us in a meaningful way on a consistent basis."
- He pointed to data from Symphony Advanced Media, which uses automatic content recognition in a mobile app to match a program's audio files and thus try for a glimpse at Netflix's ratings numbers.
- Symphony looked at the average audience 18-49 for all episodes of a Netflix show within 35 days of a series premiere, and examined September-December data. It found Marvel series Jessica Jones averaged 4.8M demo viewers, comparable to Modern Family. Master of None averaged 3.9M; Narcos 3.2M.
- Wurtzel said most viewers then returned to old (linear) habits by week 3, saying that then "people are watching TV the way that God intended. The impact goes away."
- "In terms of our business, YouTube is basically a sidebar," he added. "The amount of time spent on YouTube is ridiculously small" -- adults 18-24 spend 12 hours a month each watching YouTube vs. 62 hours watching linear TV.
Thu, Jan. 14, 12:34 PM
- Tegna (NYSE:TGNA) is up 3.9% after Evercore's upgraded the shares to Buy, following the company's new affiliation contract with NBC (CMCSA +2.4%).
- The firm has a $27 price target, 20% upside from current levels.
- Comcast had agreed to a renewal of all 17 Tegna NBC stations; while terms weren't disclosed, it's likely a 3-5 year deal (Tegna recently negotiated its CBS deal through 2019 and ABC contract through 2018).
- Tegna's also negotiated retransmission deals covering 57% of its subscribers (new agreements with DirecTV/AT&T and Dish Network), with the rest up at the end of the year.
- Core ad growth likely improved in the fourth quarter, Evercore's Tracy Young and Ivy Cong say, and the balance sheet should continue to improve with more debt reduction, even including $825M in buybacks over the next three years.
Thu, Jan. 14, 10:09 AM
- The Revenant (FOX +1%, FOXA +0.7%) and Mad Max: Fury Road (TWX -0.2%) are the big-studio story of the Oscar nominations, with 12 and 10 overall nods respectively.
- Those two earned Best Picture nominations along with The Big Short (VIA -0.7%, VIAB -0.3%); Bridge of Spies (DIS -0.5%); Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight); Fox's The Martian; Room and Spotlight.
- Among box-office successes that were largely left out: Despite becoming the highest-grossing domestic film ever, Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens was unsurprisingly skipped for Best Picture but took five technical nominations; Universal's (CMCSA +0.6%) historic earner Jurassic World (fourth-highest gross ever) received no nominations; and its $200M worldwide hit Straight Outta Compton drew only a nomination for original screenplay.
- Among big studios, Fox drew the most nominations (20, though Ridley Scott was snubbed as director of The Martian, and not counting Fox Searchlight); Disney drew 13 overall; Warner Bros. 11 (10 from Mad Max); Paramount six; Universal three.
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