Comcast Corporation(CMCSA)- NASDAQ
  • Tue, Sep. 27, 7:52 PM
    • Shares of Harmonic (HLIT +1.3%) are up 7.3% after hours following a warrant agreement with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) giving the cable giant the right to buy shares.
    • That right's based on Harmonic's ability to hit specific sales and deployment milestones, the company says -- a "significant validation of our new product investment strategy," says CEO Patrick Harshman.
    • Harmonic will hold a conference call and discuss financial info at 9 a.m. ET tomorrow.
    | Tue, Sep. 27, 7:52 PM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Sep. 27, 4:19 PM
    • Final ratings are still coming together, but last night's presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be the most-watched ever.
    • With several networks in, the first presidential debate this season has hit 83.7M viewers, which would surpass the previous most-watched presidential debate, the sole debate between 1980 candidates Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan (80M viewers).
    • Of course, that viewer bounty isn't visited on just one network -- more than a dozen televised the event live and (at least during the debate) commercial-free -- but the overall result means a flood of ad dollars going to a variety of networks for pre- and post-debate ads, some of which looked more like the Super Bowl in terms of level of interest.
    • According to Nielsen's current numbers, the Big Four broadcast networks drew 49.1M viewers, up about 25% from 2012; NBC (CMCSA +0.6%) with 18.2M, ABC (DIS -0.3%) with 13.5M, CBS (CBS +1.8%) with 12.1M and Fox (FOX +2%, FOXA +1.7%) with 5.3M. PBS drew 2.9M viewers, while Univision (Pending:UVN) added 2.5M and Telemundo 1.8M.
    • On cable, Fox News saw 11.4M viewers, with CNN (TWX +2.3%) slightly behind at 9.8M and MSNBC at 4.9M.
    • Local broadcast chains including Gray Television (GTN -0.1%) and Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI +1.5%) have recently cut guidance for political revenues, with advertising spending disappointing.
    | Tue, Sep. 27, 4:19 PM | 91 Comments
  • Mon, Sep. 26, 5:42 PM
    • Another slow weekend for films ended with a remake of The Magnificent Seven (SNE -0.4%) topping the box office by beating some animated counter-programming.
    • Sony's new take on the Western grossed $34.7M to top the week's other wide debut, Storks (TWX -0.8%), which drew $21.3M. Both films edged last week's leader, Sully (NYSE:TWX), which fell to third with $13.5M. It's grossed $92.1M domestically in its three weeks of release.
    • Sequel Bridget Jones's Baby (CMCSA -2%) fell off in its second weekend, dropping to No. 4 with just $4.7M.
    • Storks is the second film for recently assembled Warner Animation Group, after The LEGO Movie.
    • Among longer-running high grossers still in theaters: Suicide Squad (TWX) was No. 8 with $3.1M (cumulative domestic of $318.1M; worldwide total of $731.8M); Pete's Dragon (DIS -1.4%) was No. 13 with $870K (cumulative domestic of $74.2M; worldwide total of $122.4M); The Secret Life of Pets (NASDAQ:CMCSA) was No. 15 with $692K (cumulative domestic of $364.3M; worldwide total of $820.9M).
    | Mon, Sep. 26, 5:42 PM | 3 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 22, 2:15 PM
    • Comcast (CMCSA +0.2%) is buying the 24% of Comcast Spectacor that it doesn't own, which belonged to Ed Snider, the company's former chairrman, and founder of hockey's Philadelphia Flyers team.
    • The move means the cableco takes 100% control of Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers, as well as the Spectra businesses. The National Hockey League is meeting tomorrow to sign off on the Flyers portion of the deal.
    • Snider passed away after a long battle with cancer in April.
    • He "planned for this transition and, thanks to his thoughtful approach on succession, Comcast Spectacor is in a strong position," says Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.
    • "Dave Scott was hand-picked three years ago by Ed to lead Comcast Spectacor and has done a terrific job as its president and CEO. He will continue in that capacity, overseeing all of the company’s various businesses," Roberts said.
    • Paul Holmgren and Ron Hextall will remain president and general manager of the Flyers respectively, and John Page will remain president of Wells Fargo Center.
    • Comcast had taken a majority stake in the company in 1996.
    | Thu, Sep. 22, 2:15 PM | 5 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 22, 12:02 PM
    • Asked about announcements earlier at the Communacopia Conference regarding Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and now Charter's (CHTR +0.6%) entries into wireless service, T-Mobile (TMUS +1.3%) COO Mike Sievert was sanguine: "Things in cable happen at the pace of cable."
    • "We think it's great," he says. "If you're a T-Mobile shareholder it's hard to figure out how it could go badly for you," he says, pointing to T-Mobile's focus. If the companies come in and take customers, that's a market of not four but six carriers "in a world where T-Mobile is highly efficacious" at mobile. "Let's say they stumble, but they still believe in the vision of convergence. Also good. Or if they lose interest, and take their toys and go home ... also good."
    • T-Mobile earlier this week released preliminary Q3 subscriber results that said it added 753,000 branded postpaid phone subs. Any benefit from the new iPhone 7? "Most of the benefit of the switching is in Q4, because we don't report the add until the phone ships to the customer, and most of the shipments are after Oct. 1," Sievert said. The company's free iPhone 7 trade-in promotion is ending Sunday, they said.
    • Separately, the company suffered a significant overnight outage of its data service. It confirmed issues at 3:31 a.m. ET, and said service was back at 5:47 a.m.
    | Thu, Sep. 22, 12:02 PM | 36 Comments
  • Tue, Sep. 20, 10:38 AM
    • Comcast (CMCSA +0.9%) kicked off Goldman Sachs' Communacopia conference with a presentation heavy on new tech for customers.
    • That included the company's new X1 set-top with a more integrated voice control and a shared interface with Netflix. But CEO Brian Roberts also highlighted "the best cable box we've ever made" -- the XI5, a smaller, Wi-Fi based unit with 4K/HDR support, meant initially for extra home TVs but likely headed toward becoming the main unit.
    • Meanwhile, Roberts says the company will launch its wireless MVNO service, likely a Wi-Fi/Verizon integrated combination, by the middle of next year -- "maybe a little sooner," but not at the beginning of the year.
    • Comcast had set plans last fall to take advantage of a 2012 deal that sold spectrum to Verizon, which allowed Comcast to (eventually) re-sell Verizon wireless service.
    • “We believe there will be a big payback, with reduced churn, more stickiness and greater customer satisfaction,” Roberts said. “We’ve seen how with X1, the whole momentum of the company has been lifted, and we hope to do it again."
    • The Comcast Mobile unit has about 150 employees now and the company promoted Greg Butz to oversee it over the summer.
    | Tue, Sep. 20, 10:38 AM | 3 Comments
  • Mon, Sep. 19, 7:50 PM
    • The Department for Professional Employees -- a coalition of technical-worker unions affiliated with AFL-CIO -- has joined other unions in sounding off against the FCC's revised set-top box rules proposal.
    • The group criticized the "de facto" compulsory licensing scheme set up by the agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, in order to prevent anticompetitive agreements among pay-TV providers.
    • That regime is "unacceptable and unworkable," the DPE says.
    • "The FCC does not have this authority," says Paul Almeida, the DPE's president, in a statement. "The one-sided proposal undermines the value of creative works, shrinks revenue streams that middle-class creators depend on to make a living and threatens the hard-fought wages and benefits of creative industry workers."
    • Previously: FCC Chairman: Open to changes to get set-top box rules passed (Sep. 15 2016)
    | Mon, Sep. 19, 7:50 PM | 24 Comments
  • Mon, Sep. 19, 12:32 PM
    • Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF) is off 4.4% after its critically mixed horror film Blair Witch fell well short of knocking off Sully (TWX +1.4%) from the top of the box-office chart.
    • Blair Witch was the best of three top-five debuts, but Sully's $22M kept it on top for the second straight week.
    • Lions Gate's new revisit to the woods of its 1999 cult film The Blair Witch Project pulled just $9.7M despite opening in more than 3,000 theaters. It has a "36% Fresh" rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
    • Just behind at No. 3 was another disappointing showing in Bridget Jones's Baby (CMCSA -0.2%), with $8.2M, followed by Snowden (AMC -0.2%, RGC) with $8M.
    • Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks, has hit $70.5M cumulative in its two weeks, and $93.9M total worldwide.
    | Mon, Sep. 19, 12:32 PM | 3 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 15, 6:43 PM
    • Veteran executive Ted Harbert is stepping down from his role as chairman of NBC Broadcasting (NASDAQ:CMCSA) after 40 years in the industry.
    • Harbert had run the E! Network for Comcast when that company took control of NBCUniversal in 2011; he then took his position at the helm of NBC Broadcasting.
    • He was a key adviser to NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke, who's now restructuring a bit at the top.
    • NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus will add much of Harbert's role, making him chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports, while other Harbert duties will be spread to other execs.
    | Thu, Sep. 15, 6:43 PM | 2 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 15, 2:20 PM
    • Speaking to the Senate, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says he may yet change his proposal of rules to open the market for pay TV set-top boxes, set for a final vote by the commission on Sept. 29.
    • Wheeler's proposal, which focuses heavily on requiring apps from providers so that consumers can watch without costly rental boxes, had been modified already from a plan offered in January.
    • The FCC has said the set-top box market is at $20B a year, and consumers pay an average annual cost of $231 (aside from programming and service costs) for the boxes -- up 185% since 1994 while other consumer electronics have dropped 90% in price over that period.
    • Any new revisions may be targeted at the swing vote on the five-member FCC, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who has expressed concerns about the licensing body created by the new rules to prevent anticompetitive agreements between providers.
    | Thu, Sep. 15, 2:20 PM | 12 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 15, 1:02 PM
    • NBCUniversal (CMCSA +1.1%) is making cuts at its newly acquired DreamWorks Animation, setting loose 200 jobs.
    • The reductions unsurprisingly are focused on corporate overhead groups along with distribution and consumer product: "Areas where we can fully integrate operations with NBCUniversal," says Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman Jeff Shell in a memo.
    • NBCUniversal closed on the $3.8B deal three weeks ago and began folding the studio into Universal along with Universal Pictures, Fandango, and its brand development unit.
    | Thu, Sep. 15, 1:02 PM | 2 Comments
  • Wed, Sep. 14, 12:01 PM
    • "We made over $250M in Rio," says NBCUniversal (CMCSA +0.8%) chief Steve Burke of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, despite the fact that U.S. ratings were down from four years ago.
    • The 2012 London Games were a "high-water point" in prime-time viewing but "We are not in any way concerned," Burke said at BofA Merrill Lynch's conference. NBC made about $120M in profit from the London Games.
    • Ratings were down from London overall, but down less than 10% in prime time when factoring in NBC's voluminous menu of cable and streaming coverage. With 2.7B minutes live-streamed, the Rio Games nearly doubled all other Games combined.
    • In contrast to $250M in profits this year and the London profit, NBC had lost as much as $200M on past Games (before ownership by Comcast).
    • Burke also touted Telemundo's recent ratings wins over Univision (Pending:UVN): Telemundo as a "big monetization opportunity" from recent success, and more upside as Univision gets much higher retransmission fees.
    | Wed, Sep. 14, 12:01 PM | 2 Comments
  • Tue, Sep. 13, 8:22 PM
    • NBC (CMCSA -1.5%) took advantage of the return of football season to take a dominating win in TV ratings this week, with a little help from politics as well.
    • It averaged 11.1M prime-time viewers, far ahead of ABC's (DIS -1%) 4.5M. CBS (CBS -1.7%) averaged 4.2M viewers, and Fox (FOX -1.9%, FOXA -1%) 2.15M.
    • Football matchups made up the week's top two programs, and related shows took other top spots. A season-opening Super Bowl rematch between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos drew 25.19M viewers for NBC, while New England at Arizona got 23.08M.
    • Those two games were followed in the top 10 by the Thursday NFL Pre-Game Show on NBC, with 18.51M; the Sunday NFL Pre-Game Show, 17.67M; and Thursday's Commander-in-Chief Forum, with 14.72M.
    | Tue, Sep. 13, 8:22 PM | 3 Comments
  • Tue, Sep. 13, 3:52 PM
    • NBCUniversal (CMCSA -1.2%) and AT&T (T -1.5%) have agreed to a long-term extension of their distribution deal, keeping the network's channels on DirecTV and U-verse for the future.
    • The deal covers NBCU's broadcast and cable offerings, for linear TV, online (on demand) and TV Everywhere app access.
    • It also accounts for new streaming services DirecTV now and DirecTV Preview, coming in Q4.
    • DirecTV will also be able to show major sporting events in 4K, boosting its ultra HD programming goals.
    | Tue, Sep. 13, 3:52 PM | 4 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 8, 8:42 PM
    • A new FCC draft order circulating to regulate pay TV's approach to set-top devices has left questions over just how comprehensive the changes would be.
    • Chairman Tom Wheeler's fact sheet about the rules laid out how providers would need to create apps enabling consumers to see all the content they paid for on their own devices, without paying expensive rental fees for a box. (The FCC estimates Americans spend $20B on box leasing fees that have jumped 185% since 1994, a period during which other consumer electronics have fallen 90% in price.)
    • Top pay TV providers (those serving about 95% of the subscriber population) will need to comply with the new rules within two years if they're adopted in a Sept. 29 vote.
    • As for platforms, Wheeler's fact sheet singled out Roku, iOS/Android and Windows, but any operating system with U.S. shipments of at least 5M devices qualifies to have an app written for it by providers.
    • Devices would also meet the requirement if they're already built on a qualifying platform (such as on Android).
    • Alternately, smaller device providers could strike their own deals with providers (such as with Comcast's Xfinity TV Partner Program) to get access to the apps.
    | Thu, Sep. 8, 8:42 PM | 17 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 8, 4:22 PM
    • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has circulated a final-rules version of his "ditch the box" proposal to open the market for pay television set-top boxes, and it's moved considerably toward an app-based approach cable providers favor.
    • "Today, I am sharing with FCC colleagues a plan to end the set-top box stranglehold and monthly rental fees," Wheeler says in presenting the new order, which he says simplifies the original proposal while still fulfilling Congress' mandate to the agency to ensure consumers can use preferred devices to access programming they've paid for.
    • Keys to the new order: Providers will have to offer a free app for subscribers to access all the programming they pay for on a variety of devices, "including tablets, smartphones, gaming systems, streaming devices or smart TVs." And consumers won't be forced to pay monthly rental fees for a box. Providers will also have to make their apps available to popular platforms including Roku, iOS/Android and Windows.
    • Also, the rules force providers to allow consumers to search content in one place whether it comes from the provider, over-the-top services or a programmer's stand-alone app, with no discrimination allowed.
    • Copyright and licensing are protected as providers will oversee end-to-end content delivery with control over their apps, Wheeler says.
    • The FCC will vote on the new order Sept. 29; if it's adopted, the biggest pay-TV providers (covering 95% of subscribers) will have two years to comply.
    • Pay TV players: CMCSA -0.3%, CHTR -3.2%, CVC/OTCPK:OTCPK:ATCEY, T -0.2%, DISH +1.6%, VZ -0.2%, FTR +0.9%, CTL -0.2%
    | Thu, Sep. 8, 4:22 PM | 34 Comments