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  • Yesterday, 5:48 PM
    • NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is doubling down on its bet on digital publisher BuzzFeed, putting another $200M in (at a valuation of around $1.7B).
    • That's a slightly higher valuation than the $1.5B last year, when NBCU first put $200M into BuzzFeed (as well as a separate $200M into Vox Media). The $400M NBCU has invested amounts to one of the industry's biggest bets on digital content.
    • The move follows announcements by BuzzFeed this year to pour more investment into video, and splitting its operations into a news group and an entertainment group.
    | Yesterday, 5:48 PM | 1 Comment
  • Yesterday, 3:17 PM
    • TV ratings for the third (and, to the relief of many, final) presidential debate came in on par with the second showdown, though still short of the first-debate record.
    • Across 11 networks measured by Nielsen, 68.76M viewers watched -- close to the 69M that viewed the second debate, but without PBS factored in yet, which could push past debate 2. This was the first presidential debate that didn't run against pro football competition.
    • Among broadcast networks (where the big four totaled 38.1M viewers), ABC (NYSE:DIS) led with 11M, followed by NBC (CMCSA -0.9%) with 10.4M, CBS (CBS +0.8%) with 10.1M, and Fox (FOX -0.7%, FOXA -0.1%) with 6.6M. Univision (Pending:UVN) and Telemundo added 2.4M and 1.5M respectively.
    • In cable, Fox News was the one on top, with 11.3M, best among all networks. CNN (TWX +0.4%) drew 8.7M, and MSNBC 5.5M.
    • Updated: Final numbers came in at 71.5M viewers, surpassing the second debate's 69M, but well short of the record 84.4M who viewed the first debate.
    | Yesterday, 3:17 PM | 17 Comments
  • Yesterday, 2:44 PM
    • NBCUniversal (CMCSA -0.9%) is in talks with YouTube about joining the latter's burgeoning live TV streaming service set to debut next year, says The Hollywood Reporter.
    • Competitors among the big four broadcast networks were already reportedly in discussion to be part of Unplugged, as the service will be called. CBS (CBS +0.7%) has a definitive deal to be part; Disney/ABC (DIS -0.1%) and Fox (FOX -0.7%, FOXA -0.1%) are close to distribution deals as well.
    • NBCU would bring broadcast NBC and likely its cable channels, including USA Network, Bravo and Syfy among others.
    • CBS -- which runs its own streaming live service (CBS All Access, at $5.99/month or $9.99/month) -- reportedly sought a rate between the $2/subscriber it gets from cablecos and the $5.99 for All Access.
    | Yesterday, 2:44 PM
  • Wed, Oct. 19, 2:51 PM
    • A new TV service from Google (GOOG +0.8%, GOOGL +0.6%) is likely to come in early 2017 after the company reached a carriage deal with CBS (CBS +0.7%) and is near distribution deals with Disney (DIS +0.6%) and Fox (FOX +0.8%, FOXA +0.4%) as well, The Wall Street Journal reports.
    • Reportedly called "Unplugged," the service would target cost-conscious viewers with a "skinny" bundle of live channels at $25-$40 per month, sources told the paper.
    • While it would be housed on Google's YouTube infrastructure, it would be separate from the existing ad-free YouTube Red subscription offering, though a curated part of Red would be part of the Unplugged bundle.
    • The bold move (with deals coming more rapidly than Apple's progress into TV) comes ahead of a planned live service from Hulu (CMCSA +0.2%, DIS, FOX, FOXA, TWX -0.1%) as well as AT&T's (T +0.2%) DirecTV Now offering arriving later this year (likely at $50/month or more), and enters a skinny space that already holds Sling TV (DISH +1.4%).
    • Updated 3:48 p.m.: Viacom (VIA +0.3%, VIAB +0.8%), home of MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET, is also in advanced talks to join the service.
    • Wall Street Journal report
    | Wed, Oct. 19, 2:51 PM | 30 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 18, 7:23 PM
    • DreamWorks Animation, now a part of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), has settled a suit filed by animators for the sum of $50M.
    • The suit was the latest one claiming a "gentleman's agreement" between major animation studios was actually an illegal anti-poaching deal -- and the latest one to result in a settlement as the suits proceed toward trial. Sony and blue Sky offered settlement in similar suits, for a combined $19M.
    • According to a court filing, the $50M is about 39.3% of the damages that a plaintiffs' expert attributed to DreamWorks Animation.
    • Still unsettled: Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), who with DreamWorks had filed for interlocutory appeal this summer but got denied in August.
    | Tue, Oct. 18, 7:23 PM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Oct. 18, 7:15 PM
    • There was no presidential debate in the way this time. Sunday Night Football on NBC (CMCSA -0.2%), usually a reliable ratings horse, posted its smallest audience in five years.
    • NBC drew 13.6M viewers (to a not-quite-prime matchup of Indianapolis and Houston), good enough for just the fifth-highest-rated program of the week vs. a usual near-top spot. The new numbers are piling in to a debate about what's happening to football, with an across-the-board ratings decline worrying the wide number of companies and advertisers that count on heavy viewership.
    • A week ago, with 66.5M viewers watching Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go at it, Sunday Night Football drew 14.84M viewers (a 26% drop).
    • The Thursday Night Football game on CBS (CBS -0.5%) slotted in a bit higher as the third-most-watched program, with 14.49M. No. 1: The O.T. on Fox (FOX +1.1%, FOXA +1.1%) with 15.38M, followed by NCIS on CBS with $14.77M, and The Big Bang Theory on CBS at No. 4 with 14.41M.
    • For the week in prime-time, CBS was No. 1 with 9.1M viewers on average; NBC had 7.2M; ABC (DIS +0.4%) had 5.8M, ahead of Fox's 5.1M. In cable prime-time: Fox News led with 2.44M on average, followed by TBS (TWX +0.9%) at 2.23M and ESPN with 1.99M.
    • After hours: CMCSA -1.3%.
    | Tue, Oct. 18, 7:15 PM | 80 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 17, 6:58 PM
    • Ben Affleck and The Accountant (TWX -0.9%) outpaced expectations and took the weekend's box office crown, grossing $24.7M to surpass last week's leader.
    • The Girl on the Train (CMCSA -0.3%) followed up at No. 2, taking $12.25M to bring its two-week total to $46.8M domestically. The thriller has grossed $79.9M worldwide.
    • Meanwhile, Kevin Hart: What Now?, another Universal film, made the largest opening ever for a stand-up comedy film, grossing $11.8M and just missing the No. 2 spot.
    • Among other debuts, the only other wide release, Max Steel (AMC -0.6%, RGC -1.1%), flopped with just $2.2M despite a 2,000-theater opening.
    | Mon, Oct. 17, 6:58 PM | 4 Comments
  • Thu, Oct. 13, 6:23 PM
    • In a treat for wizarding fans, Harry Potter book series author J.K. Rowling confirmed that the spin-off movie series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be made up of five films total.
    • The first film is due out Nov. 18 from Warner Bros. (TWX -0.6%). The studio will release all five of the films over a series of years.
    • Rowling was doing a Q&A session with the first film's cast when she confirmed the five-film schedule.
    • The Harry Potter films (and associated merchandise and theme park attractions) have been a tremendous cash cow. the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, made $974.8M worldwide for Warner after its 2001 release; the final of eight films in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, made $1.34B worldwide in 2011. Those eight films drew more than $7B in combined grosses.
    • NBCUniversal (CMCSA -0.2%) got commercial TV rights to the eight Potter movies and the Fantastic Beasts franchise in August.
    | Thu, Oct. 13, 6:23 PM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Oct. 11, 11:57 AM
    • Comcast (CMCSA -0.9%) is paying the largest civil penalty issued to a cable operator by the FCC: $2.3M.
    • The agency had hit the cable giant with charges of "negative option billing" -- adding charges to customer bills for such things as premium channels, DVRs and set-top boxes that the customer didn't affirmatively request.
    • In some cases, the FCC said, subscribers said they were billed despite specifically declining any service or equipment upgrades.
    • “It is basic that a cable bill should include charges only for services and equipment ordered by the customer — nothing more and nothing less,” says the FCC's Travis LeBlanc.
    • Along with the penalty, Comcast will send customers order confirmations for newly added products/services that are separate from the regular bill, and give customers the ability to block the addition of new services overall.
    | Tue, Oct. 11, 11:57 AM | 9 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 10, 6:05 PM
    • Despite a weekend of controversy that led many to expect giant TV ratings for last night's second presidential debate, the event drew fewer viewers than the first one.
    • Some 66.5M viewers watched the second meeting (a town-hall format) between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, making for a 21% drop-off from the first debate's record total of 84M.
    • It is however better than all other second debates that have happened after 1992 (which drew 69.9M viewers).
    • The total numbers were spread across 11 networks, including PBS, but not counting streaming. CBS (CBS +0.9%) topped networks with 16.46M viewers, followed by ABC (NYSE:DIS) with 11.5M, and CNN (TWX +0.5%) with 11.29M. Among cablers, CNN beat Fox News (FOX +1.3%, FOXA +1.5%), which drew 9.89M, and MSNBC (CMCSA +0.6%) with 5.54M.
    • While the debate did appear on MSNBC, NBC broadcast went with a Sunday Night Football matchup of the Giants and the Packers, and while it may have cut debate viewership, it felt the pinch with 14.84M viewers, more than 26% below average. Pro football's flagging ratings this season -- overall, network viewership is down about 10% -- is causing hand-wringing among networks and advertisers that depend on the stalwart programming.
    | Mon, Oct. 10, 6:05 PM | 46 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 10, 4:01 PM
    • The Girl on the Train led the box office in a weekend of mostly leftovers, grossing $24.7M for Universal/DreamWorks (CMCSA +0.7%).
    • That was easily good enough to surpass last week's leader, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (FOX +1.3%, FOXA +1.4%), which fell off 48% in its second week to draw $15M. Deepwater Horizon (LGF, SNE +0.7%) slipped another spot to third, with $11.75M.
    • Rounding out the top five: remake The Magnificent Seven (NYSE:SNE), with $9.2M, and Storks (TWX +0.5%), with $8.5M.
    • In longer-running milestones, Sully (NYSE:TWX) has hit $113.5M domestically in its fifth week, Suicide Squad (TWX) is still throwing spare change on a big pile ($1.1M in its 10th week for a domestic total of $322.5M), and Finding Dory (DIS; still in 207 theaters in U.S.) has hit $1B in worldwide grosses.
    | Mon, Oct. 10, 4:01 PM | 1 Comment
  • Fri, Oct. 7, 11:34 AM
    • With pro football well under way, the seemingly ratings-proof NFL is seeing a decline in TV viewership that is showing a ripple effect for networks and advertisers.
    • Network viewership is down about 10% Y/Y, catching advertisers and rights holders off guard and picking through possible reasons, including a high-interest presidential election and new viewing platforms, as well as some out-of-action football stars.
    • ESPN (NYSE:DIS) is seeing the brunt of the decline, with ratings down 17% to an average 11.3M viewers. That includes a Monday Night Football broadcast up against the first Clinton-Trump debate; excluding that, pro football at ESPN is down 11%. Meanwhile, NBC's Sunday night games (NASDAQ:CMCSA) are down 13% to 22M viewers, and CBS (NYSE:CBS) is down 15% on Thursdays.
    • Afternoon games (not up against debates) are faring better: CBS and Fox (FOX, FOXA) are both down 3% on Sunday afternoons.
    • Aside from a number of reasons cited, though, new viewing vectors can't be denied. Verizon (NYSE:VZ) phones are also an outlet for football, and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) began to see early growth for its Thursday broadcasts.
    • Nielsen (NYSE:NLSN) expects its Total Audience Measurement service in full force by next football season, promising a more accurate reflection of viewing across multiple platforms.
    • For its part, the NFL is seeking to ease concerns, saying a "confluence of events" is depressing ratings and football "continues to be far and away the most powerful programming on television and the best place for brands and advertisers.”
    | Fri, Oct. 7, 11:34 AM | 267 Comments
  • Thu, Oct. 6, 1:31 PM
    • Walt Disney (DIS +0.5%) and its theme park peers have started shutdowns in Florida as Hurricane Matthew starts bearing down on the state.
    • Disney World is closing at 5 p.m. today, and will remain closed on Friday. That follows the earlier cancellation of "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party," a ticketed event set for tonight.
    • Meanwhile, Universal Orlando (CMCSA -0.1%) is closing its Wet 'n Wild water park at 2 p.m. today, and closing other attractions (Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and CityWalk) at 5 p.m. It will leave all those attractions closed Friday as well. It plans to resume normal operations Saturday morning.
    • Similarly, SeaWorld (SEAS -1.2%) is closing its Orlando park at 2 p.m. and will reopen at 10 a.m. Saturday.
    • Matthew is expected to remain a Category 4 storm, as it approached Florida at about 14 mph.
    | Thu, Oct. 6, 1:31 PM | 11 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 5, 6:34 PM
    • Final Nielsen ratings for last night's vice presidential debate took a chunk out of earlier estimates, coming in at an average of 37M viewers across the several channels broadcasting.
    • Early estimates had the total closer to 51M -- in line with the 2012 VP debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. But last night fell short of that, as well as the first presidential debate last week (closer to 84M viewers).
    • NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) brought the biggest audience, with 7M viewers; Fox News (FOX -0.6%, FOXA -0.3%) led cable networks with 6.1M.
    • Other debate broadcasters: CBS; DIS; TWX
    | Wed, Oct. 5, 6:34 PM | 9 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 5, 3:39 PM
    • Grupo Televisa (TV +1%) has a deal with NBCUniversal (CMCSA +0.1%) and its Telemundo unit to distribute content, expanding its selection of films and series.
    • The multi-year deal also boosts streaming video service "blim," which competes with international rivals like Netflix.
    • The NBCUniversal International Distribution portion of the deal expands Televisa's pact for free-to-air programs along with library content for blim. The Telemundo Internacional portion will just go to blim.
    | Wed, Oct. 5, 3:39 PM
  • Wed, Oct. 5, 11:50 AM
    • Unsurprisingly for a lower-wattage event, ratings for last night's vice presidential debate between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine drew about half the record numbers of the Trump-Clinton presidential debate.
    • That's no slouch, though, in line with previous VP debate matchups, and ultimately drawing a (preliminary) 13.2 rating.
    • That would mean about 51M in a total TV audience, while CNN estimated it would hit 40M-50M. That doesn't count online viewers, or those watching in public (at bars or restaurants).
    • An outlier among VP debate ratings was 2008, when candidates Joe Biden and Sarah Palin squared off and drew 69.9M viewers.
    • Related broadcasters: CBS; CMCSA; DIS; FOX, FOXA; TWX
    • Updated: Final figures came in much smaller, at 37M viewers.
    | Wed, Oct. 5, 11:50 AM | 29 Comments