Wed, Nov. 18, 3:48 PM
- In its carriage dispute with the YES regional sports network (FOX, FOXA), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) was banking on the fact that little uptake among its customers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut would mean a blackout of the expensive channel wouldn't hurt it too badly.
- The channel did go dark at midnight last night, and Comcast's investors may be endorsing the stance -- Comcast shares are up 2.3%, and at $62.56 are re-approaching a 52-week high it set in July.
- YES reportedly charges $4.89 per subscriber per month, which would make it the most expensive regional sports net and approaching ESPN subscriber-cost territory. It is the most-watched RSN in the country.
- Comcast says that of 130 baseball games on YES this season, more than 90% of its subscribers didn't watch the equivalent of a quarter of the games despite the Yankees' playoff pursuit.
- Previously: Comcast, YES at carriage impasse with midnight blackout deadline (Nov. 17 2015)
Tue, Nov. 17, 5:19 PM
- The Hallmark Channel (CRWN +1.7%) is taking advantage of November's onset, switching to all holiday programming all the time and jumping to third in last week's cable ratings, averaging 1.78M viewers.
- The channel plans original films each year, and I'm Not Ready for Christmas drew 3.6M viewers on Saturday while Christmas Inc. pulled 2.5M on Sunday.
- For the week, Hallmark finished behind ESPN (DIS, 2.71M viewer average) and Fox News (FOX, FOXA, 2.29M average). It's planning original movies for each night during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as well, and viewership for the first two weeks of November are up 89% over October's average.
- CBS won prime time among big broadcasters again, averaging 10.2M viewers, ahead of NBC (CMCSA, 8.3M), ABC (6.2M) and Fox (3.6M).
- NBC Nightly News won newscasts with 9.3M, ahead of ABC's World News Tonight with 8.8M.
Thu, Nov. 12, 6:57 PM
- If Hulu sells a stake to Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), it would be an equal partnership with existing co-owners, meaning it would draw down the stakes of the other three -- Disney (NYSE:DIS), NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Fox (FOX, FOXA) -- to 25% each.
- The move would definitely be a strategic play against Netflix and Amazon.com for the service, which has gotten increasingly active in the past year with new subscription models and aggressive moves into original programming and licensing products away from competitors. Content spending reportedly went to $1.5B this year from $600M in 2014.
- Time Warner wouldn't just be putting in cash, it would be committing to license content beyond what it's already sold. Time Warner owns TV powerhouse Warner Bros. along with HBO, and Turner Broadcasting and its properties.
- It suggests that a sale in whole that was discussed in 2013 is further off the table now. The WSJ reports that the current (preliminary) talks value Hulu between $5B and $6B.
- Nervous content owners may favor a stronger Hulu and its closer relationship to existing TV vs. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), which they feel is accelerating cord cutting and lowering ratings. Netflix, which fell into the close down 3.5%, is off another 0.8% after hours.
- Previously: WSJ: Hulu looking at stake sale to Time Warner valuing it at $5B-$6B (Nov. 12 2015)
- Previously: With programming buildup, Hulu's losses increase (Nov. 06 2015)
- Previously: Hulu CEO: No current ambition for original movies, overseas expansion (Oct. 15 2015)
Wed, Oct. 28, 9:44 PM
- Event programming is continuing to drive big ratings this fall, with Fox (FOX, FOXA) drawing a winning rating in overnights from its World Series coverage.
- Paced by Game 1 between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals, the network pulled a 4.4 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic with a 13 share -- that, despite a power outage that disrupted the stadium feed, and an audience-testing extra innings game that surpassed the five-hour mark.
- NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) followed Fox with a 1.8 rating/6 share, then CBS with a 1.7/5. NBC's Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris fell off just 8% W/W despite running against baseball, and The Voice was off 4% while Chicago Fire rose 11%.
- At CBS, NCIS got a 2.0, down 5% W/W, and NCIS: New Orleans recorded a 1.6 (flat).
- TBS scored with 6M viewers for its NBA season tip-off.
- Meanwhile, with final numbers in, the CBS premiere for Supergirl on Monday became the fall's top premiere in total viewers, with 12.95M from 8:30-9:30 p.m. It tied NBC's Blindspot as the top premiere in the young-adult demo, holding 70% of that audience from No. 1 comedy The Big Bang Theory ... though its test will come next week without that strong lead-in. CBS gained 2.2% today.
Tue, Oct. 27, 8:28 PM
- IBM is nearing a deal in excess of $2B to acquire the digital and data assets of The Weather Co., owner of the Weather Channel, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
- The company -- owned in part by NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) along with Bain Capital and Blackstone (NYSE:BX) -- started hiring banks to seek a buyer in August for a deal it hoped would hit $3B. The company's digital bits were widely considered to be the most valuable.
- IBM has a particular interest in the company's forecasting group, WSI, the WSJ says -- a unit that's chock full of tech and weather data that the Weather Co. licenses to various businesses.
- The deal would reportedly come with Weather Co. CEO David Kenny, who would join IBM.
- A $2B deal would be a discount over the company's 2008 sale price, valued at $3.5B. IBM shares fell 4.1% today.
- Previously: IBM eyes digital assets of The Weather Company (Oct. 19 2015)
- Previously: Weather Channel hires banks to explore sale for up to $3B (Aug. 20 2015)
Thu, Oct. 15, 7:39 PM
- In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins covers at least a couple of differences from VOD giant Netflix: He's not planning a move into original movies, and has no plans to take the service overseas, for now.
- In other tidbits: He thinks the (reported) $700K/episode price for Seinfeld has been worth it ("Subscribers have flocked to that show in ways that we haven't seen with any other show"); its content investments are "quite a bit higher" than the $500M it reportedly spent in 2012; the biggest surprise hit is The Mindy Project, a top-five show there.
- As for its ad-free and limited-ad plans: "The mix of subscribers taking our no-commercials plan and limited-commercials plan is exactly what we projected. We assumed that a large majority of people would choose to stick to the limited commercials plan — and that's held true for new sign-ups as well."
- And the corporate ownership that used to vex former chief Jason Kilar is an advantage, Hopkins says: "We couldn't be doing what we're doing if it wasn't for the support of Fox (FOX +2.5%, FOXA +2.5%), NBC (CMCSA +1.8%) and ABC (DIS +2.1%)." An IPO or sale aren't in the plans until they build further, he suggests.
Tue, Oct. 13, 10:30 PM
- The Walking Dead's zombies may be showing a weakness, as the season premiere of the lead series from AMC Networks (AMCX -5.1%) gave up viewers from its last go-round.
- Sunday's premiere drew 14.6M viewers, compared to 17.3M last year and 16.1M in 2013, Nielsen said.
- To be fair, AMC noted it was up against a tough Sunday Night Football game, and it mused that a 90-minute premiere may have turned off viewers compared to shorter past premieres.
- The show's still a monster hit, finishing second only to NCIS among TV dramas this week.
- CBS took the overall ratings crown, averaging 10.3M viewers; ESPN (NYSE:DIS) was the most popular cable net, averaging 4.03M. Evening news was won by NBC Nightly News (NASDAQ:CMCSA), averaging 8.3M viewers.
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.
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)
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.
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, 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.
Mon, Sep. 14, 1:37 PM
- A thrills-and-chills face-off at the box office ended with The Perfect Guy narrowly edging The Visit, but with both films well outperforming projections.
- ScreenGems' (SNE -1.1%) The Perfect Guy drew $26.7M against The Visit, a bit of a comeback from M. Night Shyamalan, which pulled $25.7M -- both well above an expected $15M-$17M each.
- Sony's War Room continued its surprising run, drawing $7.4M to finish third and likely overshadowing the debut of another faith-based film, 90 Minutes in Heaven. War Room, from the company's Affirm label, has grossed $39.2M in three weeks.
- In continuing-film strength, Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA -0.9%, VIAB -1.2%) was fifth, grossing $4.2M to bring its seven-week total to $188.2M, and Straight Outta Compton (CMCSA -0.9%) was sixth, adding $4.1M to its five-week cumulative run of $155.7M.
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