Fri, Oct. 9, 3:58 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA -0.9%) has begun third-party integration into its Xfinity Home offering, a move it said it would pursue in May.
- Customers can now use Xfinity apps to control smart locks from August, Chamberlain MyQ garage door controls, Lutron Caseta light controls and dimmers, and Nest thermostats.
- In May, the company pledged it would partner with nine companies in its home automation/security offering. Work continues on a software development kit to simplify third-party integration.
- All devices in the Xfinity Home integration will get technical support from Comcast and the company will begin offering installation "in the coming months."
- It also says it will expand control of the platform to its X1 video platform and its associated voice control features.
- Previously: Comcast expands home automation with nine partnerships (May. 05 2015)
Thu, Oct. 8, 7:24 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA +2.2%) says it's engaging in yet another cableco "speed bump" for most of its customers in the Western U.S.
- It's set up new tiers -- Performance Pro, at 75 Mbps, and Blast Pro, at 150 Mbps.
- Customers currently getting 50 Mbps will be bumped to the 75 Mbps speed, and those getting 105 Mbps will get an increase to 150 Mbps, for no extra charge.
- Speed increases are coming to a dozen Western states by the end of the month, and to customers in Houston and Washington effective tomorrow.
Tue, Oct. 6, 3:35 PM
- Viacom (VIA +2.3%, VIAB +2.9%) and Hulu (CMCSA -0.9%, DIS +0.1%, FOXA) have expanded their content deal, making Hulu the exclusive streaming destination for a number of Comedy Central and MTV programs, notably including Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City and Key & Peele as well as Faking It and Nickelodeon content including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Rugrats.
- The two formed a pact in 2011 for day-after availability for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report; the new deal renews rights for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. A deal expansion last year added full seasons of a number of Comedy Central and Nick programs.
- Amazon.com has exclusive rights to other Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central shows that aren't part of Hulu's deal.
Tue, Oct. 6, 3:16 PM
- Investments into daily fantasy sports may end up a win-win for big media, say Bloomberg analysts Paul Sweeney and Sean Ford.
- The quickly growing industry -- dominated by two firms, FanDuel and DraftKings -- has received partnerships and investments from a number of media firms, funds that are likely to come back to them via (very) heavy ad campaigns during football season.
- Comcast (CMCSA -1.2%), Time Warner (TWX +0.2%) and Fox (FOX -0.8%, FOXA -0.1%) have invested into the two, pumping each to a $1B-plus valuation after they raised a combined $575M in funding. Fox has a 12% stake in DraftKings.
- The two firms put $24M into TV ads in the seven days ended yesterday. Not only are the ads helping in a sluggish advertising market, the analysts say, they promote the media companies' "highly coveted sports content."
- A wrinkle comes in the "insider trading" firestorm that erupted in daily fantasy sports yesterday as news emerged that an employee of DraftKings made $350K on a $25 bet at FanDuel, using nonpublic user information. Lawmakers are examining whether the companies should be exempt from the online gaming ban as they blow up into a $26B industry.
- Previously: Daily fantasy sports business on the radar of regulators (Sep. 22 2015)
- Previously: CBS, Disney set to gain from daily fantasy ramp-up (Sep. 18 2015)
Mon, Oct. 5, 6:56 PM
- Video streamer Hulu isn't planning any international expansion for now, despite taking a look at new markets, says CEO Mike Hopkins.
- That's a contrast from competitor Netflix, which has been shifting marketing dollars to global markets and targeting heavy international growth, with the U.S. making up two-third of subscribers. "For most global Internet firms, the U.S. is 20%-35% of usage and revenue; we're not anywhere close to that yet but we're continuing to invest in international," Reed Hastings said earlier this year.
- Hopkins also thinks the standard programming bundle will stick around "for years to come" and that over-the-top services are additive, not substitute goods, for now.
- Speaking at an industry conference in Cannes, France, Hopkins added that Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +2%), Disney (DIS +0.8%) and Fox (FOXA +1.1%) -- is still looking for its signature original hit: “We’re looking for that defining show,” he says, noting that Mad Men and South Park changed AMC and Comedy Central.
Tue, Sep. 29, 7:07 PM
- Streaming video service Hulu has made many changes to its model over the past year -- shifting heavily toward its paid service and aggressively moving into original programming -- though its recent move, to create an ad-free tier, raised eyebrows as observers compared its $11.99/month level directly with competitors like Netflix.
- The tier is off to a good start, though, says CEO Mike Hopkins, who suggests that it's winning over people who wouldn't have considered Hulu otherwise: "So far, so good."
- Speaking at an IAB ad conference, Hopkins says internal data showed a "big chunk" of potential users wouldn't join due to the ads, while another set points to the ads as a reason for cancellation.
- Users "like advertising if it’s the right advertising at the right time,” Hopkins said, acknowledging the ad-free tier isn't a big group of subscribers at the moment.
- Along with the ad-free level, Hulu began selling a "limited" commercial tier at $7.99/month.
- Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +0.6%), Disney (DIS +0.9%) and Fox (FOXA +2.4%) -- has as its ongoing goals personalizing the product further and adding more programming (TV and film) to draw and keep users.
- Previously: Hulu launches higher-priced ad-free subscription tier (Sep. 02 2015)
Tue, Sep. 29, 12:41 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is up 1% as Macquarie boosts its estimates, due in large part to a strong TV outlook and its expansion of NBCUniversal globally.
- The firm's analyst Amy Yong maintains a Neutral rating, but raised her price target to $65, from $62. Shares closed yesterday at $54.81 and are currently at $55.38, implying 17% upside.
- Yong sees average revenue per unit in Q3 to grow by 3.7% on "flow through" of TV service and modem fees, as Comcast builds up its X1 platform even further.
- Elsewhere, there's Universal Pictures leading in market share with a tremendous year at the box office, marked by stellar success in Jurassic World and Furious 7; she sees the film business growing 99% Y/Y on “record box office success and easy comps.”
- Meanwhile, Comcast has launched its Watchable video service. More like YouTube than Hulu so far, as it promises the best of the Web on a TV screen; Comcast is sharing ad revenue with content creators, YouTube-style.
- Previously: Diesel admissions: Universal set to make it an even 10 'Furious' films (Sep. 28 2015)
- Previously: Demo site suggests Comcast video service Watchable is nearing debut (Sep. 02 2015)
Mon, Sep. 28, 7:05 PM
- An eighth entry in the Fast and the Furious franchise that Vin Diesel leaked would come out April 14, 2017 is reportedly having trouble finding a director, but that hasn't slowed Diesel's roll, as he tripled down on the earlier pronouncement.
- The actor will produce a final trilogy of films to wrap the series, he said.
- “Universal has been so good to me and so trusting of the vision," he wrote in a post. "They have been like family ... I promised the studio I would deliver one last trilogy to end the saga."
- Furious 7, part of a banner year for Universal Pictures (CMCSA -3.1%), this year became the fifth-highest grossing film (global) of all time, with $351M in domestic grosses and a total of $1.51B in worldwide.
- Diesel waved away rumors about any issue with the next film. “To be clear, NO ONE has been offered to helm Fast 8 yet ... let alone seen a script.”
- Previously: Universal smashes international box office record (Aug. 24 2015)
- Previously: 'Furious 7' leads box office for fourth week (Apr. 27 2015)
Mon, Sep. 28, 10:55 AM
- Hotel Transylvania 2 nailed a much-needed win for Sony Pictures (SNE -4.1%), grossing $47.5M to set a September opening record and lead the box office over the weekend.
- The film broke its predecessor's record and easily outpaced The Intern (TWX -1.3%), which drew $18.2M as the other key debut of the week.
- It's Sony's biggest opening since early summer 2014, when 22 Jump Street opened with $57M.
- Among second-week holdovers, an expanded release for Everest (CMCSA -1.4%) didn't quite catch up to Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (FOX -0.8%, FOXA -0.9%), which took $14M and the No. 3 spot to Everest's $13.1M. Black Mass (NYSE:TWX) took $11.5M for the No. 5 spot.
- Drug-war story Sicario scored a light $1.8M in its second week for Lions Gate (LGF -2.1%), but with an impressive per-screen average as the film opened in just six theaters and moved to 59 over the weekend. It goes wide next weekend.
Mon, Sep. 28, 5:56 AM
- As leaked a couple of weeks back, Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) NBCUniversal agreed to the purchase of a majority stake in Universal Studios Japan from Goldman Sachs and other owners of the theme park.
- “We are excited to expand our global footprint with this wonderful theme park in Osaka,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. “This investment represents a huge opportunity and commitment to creating value for our shareholders and continuing to grow internationally.”
- Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) currently has a majority stake in USJ, the owner/operator of Universal Studios Japan, with remaining shares held by Japanese P-E firms and a U.S. hedge fund. All will be selling more than half of their holdings to NBCUniversal.
- The deal is expected to close in November.
- Source: WSJ
- Previously: WSJ: NBCUniversal considering buying majority of Universal Studios Japan (Sept. 15)
Fri, Sep. 25, 10:00 AM
- A federal judge has approved a $50M settlement from Comcast (CMCSA +1%) to resolve a 2003 class-action suit from customers.
- Subscribers had accused Comcast and other cable providers of swapping customers in order to attain monopoly status, and had sought $675M in damages. On appeal, the suit was limited to about 800,000 current and former customers in the Philadelphia region.
- Former customers will get $15 each in the settlement, and current customers will get a $15 credit.
Mon, Sep. 21, 12:40 PM
- Teens won out over true crime at the box office this weekend, as dystopian sequel Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials took the top spot over Johnny Depp in Black Mass.
- The Scorch Trials (FOX +0.6%, FOXA +0.6%) drew $30.3M to lead all comers in a strong weekend (up 9% Y/Y overall), while Black Mass (TWX -0.5%) -- the story of Boston gangster Whitey Bulger -- followed up with $23.4M, so far a return to form after a string of Depp disappointments.
- Sticking mainly to specialty screens like Imax and premium formats, Everest (CMCSA +0.8%), the week's other key newcomer, was fifth with $7.6M, behind second-weekers The Visit ($11.4M) and The Perfect Guy ($9.6M).
- In sixth, War Room (SNE +0.2%) hit a cumulative total of $49.09M to become the fifth highest-grossing faith-based film.
Fri, Sep. 18, 5:43 PM
- Along with delivering expectations of strong customer growth, T-Mobile (TMUS -1.5%) CEO John Legere said the company would aggressively take part in the upcoming broadcast incentive spectrum auction.
- Legere also didn't disappoint when it came to talking down competitors, predicting failure for Verizon's (VZ -1.4%) freshly launching mobile video service.
- "I do think this Go90 could be the biggest debacle," he said at Goldman Sachs' Communacopia. "I mean it's right up there with the Amazon Fire phone, the Facebook phone, you remember that?"
- Another Legere trademark: Opining on consolidation that could include T-Mobile. "You really believe that the Comcast (CMCSA -1.8%) future in wireless is to be an MVNO with Verizon? I mean, give me a break. ... The timing of when the cable players come into the wireless phase — it's purely determined by who blinks first."
- Previously: T-Mobile up as Legere sees 'significant' Q3 customer growth (Sep. 18 2015)
- Previously: Verizon's McAdam: Earnings plateau in 2016, then off to races (Sep. 17 2015)
- Previously: Verizon rolling out Go90 video service in beta program (Sep. 08 2015)
Thu, Sep. 17, 9:00 PM
- MSG Networks (NYSE:MSGN) -- the upcoming media result of the spin-off at Madison Square Garden (MSG +2.2%) -- began trading on a when-issued basis today at the NYSE, as did the "new MSG."
- On Sept. 30, each MSG common stockholder will get one share of "new MSG" for every three of the current MSG they own. Class A stockholders will receive class A, and likewise with class B.
- Analysts at BTIG have set a price target of $240 for "new MSG" and of $30 for MSG Networks -- the latter based on a multiple of 15 times estimated 2016 free cash flow/share of $2.03. And BTIG's Brandon Ross has said that it gets more valuable when you consider a likely takeout by hungry competing regional sports net holders: Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) or Fox (FOX, FOXA).
- In an update, Ross says he very much believes the Dolans want to sell the media company to eventually buy into new MSG, and focus there.
- An exit from the cable side seems to fit not only James Dolan's personality but also the fresh news that the family's selling Cablevision to France's Altice.
- For its part, MSG has two underappreciated opportunities to raise value, Ross says: increasing nights filled in venues (though venues may need some investment), and increasing per caps.
- Previously: MSG names leadership for media spin-off (Sep. 11 2015)
- Previously: MSG split may mean key M&A for Comcast, Fox (Apr. 02 2015)
Thu, Sep. 17, 8:05 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA +1.3%) will pay $33M and change its operations to resolve a case where it was charged with illegally posting personal information for customers who had paid for unlisted voice service.
- The company will refund about $8M to 75,000 affected customers, who had opted for unlisted voice-over-IP service but had their names, phone numbers and addresses listed online. Comcast also agreed to strengthen restrictions on vendors' use of customer info and revamp its customer complaint handling process.
- Elsewhere today, Cowen and Co. reiterated its Outperform rating on Comcast, with a $62 price target. Shares closed today at $58.46.
- Yesterday, Wunderlich raised its price target on Comcast to $78, from $72. Cowen's target implies 6% upside; Wunderlich's, a 33% upside.
Thu, Sep. 17, 11:11 AM
- Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) is up 15.3%, hitting highs it hasn't seen in more than four years, in the wake of its $17.7B deal to be acquired by France's Altice (OTCPK:ATCEY).
- Shares are trading at $32.90 against Altice's $34.90/share proposal, though analysts are sounding off largely in consensus that there shouldn't be any regulatory issues with the deal. Altice was up nearly 13% in Amsterdam, but has settled down to a gain of 0.8%.
- Most analysts rate Cablevision a Hold. The combination doesn't surprise Pivotal's Jeff Wlodarczak, but the price does a bit, considering a willing seller and Altice likely the only bidder; he expected a $32.50/share deal.
- Wunderlich's Matthew Harrigan was surprised the sale happened with this FCC in place; he expected a deal after a new administration, perhaps to Liberty's John Malone or Charter's (and formerly Cablevision's) Tom Rutledge.
- Michael McCormack at Jefferies thinks Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) or Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) could look at getting into the bidding for Cablevision. He says a synergy target of $900M "looks aggressive" and implies some best-in-class margins.
- Overall, analysts are taking Altice's Patrick Drahi at his word: The company probably isn't done expanding in the U.S. Likely targets could be any number of telecom assets, including private players like Cox or Mediacom, or CLECs.
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