Wed, Aug. 26, 4:11 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA +2.9%) is taking proposals for two substantially Hispanic American-owned networks that it plans to launch by Jan. 28, 2017 -- part of a commitment it agreed to as part of its NBCUniversal purchase in 2011.
- The company promised to launch 10 independent networks by 2019 as part of public-interest commitments it made for the NBCU deal. Of the 10, two were to be operated by Hispanic American programmers and two to be substantially Hispanic American-owned.
- Since the NBCU deal was completed, five independent networks have rolled out, including Revolt TV (with music figure Sean Combs), El Rey (partnered with director Robert Rodriguez and Univision) and Aspire (with Magic Johnson).
- Proposals are due Oct. 9 and the two new networks will be selected in following months.
Tue, Aug. 25, 1:14 PM
- Making its first trip into automated ad sales, streaming video service Hulu is setting up a private ad exchange that will let brands combine their data with Hulu's information on viewership to find the right audience.
- The new exchange will run on Facebook's LiveRail technology, and indeed could make buying Hulu ads more like buying ads on Facebook or other Web services.
- It's "a bit of a watershed for the premium video-on-demand space," says Hulu's Peter Naylor, who says the sales force won't be left out: "I'm going to enable my grown-up sales force who sell sponsorships to also sell programmatically. We're not going to put programmatic in a silo."
- Hulu - co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +1.6%), Disney (DIS +3.6%) and Fox (FOXA +2.4%) - will make all of its ad inventory available through the exchange, with the exception (for now) of high-end sales like show-specific sponsorships.
Mon, Aug. 24, 3:24 PM
- With the help of its reanimated dinosaurs and furiously fast cars (and a couple of other top-five performers), Universal Pictures (CMCSA -4.6%) has set the international box-office record, with $3.78B and counting.
- That passes Fox's 2014 record of $3.73B, with just over four months left in the year. The studio has had four top openings internationally, and its 10 weeks at the top overseas lead all studios.
- It's got four of 2015's top five international draws: No. 1 Furious 7 ($1.162M); No. 2 Jurassic World ($983.5M); No. 4 Minions ($670.2M) and No. 5 Fifty Shades of Grey ($404.1M).
- Minions was still in the international top 10 this weekend with $12.5M. Furious 7 is the fifth-highest-grossing worldwide film ever.
- Previously: 'Compton' still good for top spot with box office -7% Y/Y (Aug. 24 2015)
- Previously: Disney, Comcast enjoying summer of (box-office) love (Aug. 20 2015)
- Previously: 2015 box office: Universal 138% ahead of 2014 pace with $1.38B home grosses (Jul. 04 2015)
Mon, Aug. 24, 1:32 PM
- With summer winding down, box office this weekend was down about 7% Y/Y with a lackluster set of new releases. But Universal's N.W.A picture Straight Outta Compton (NASDAQ:CMCSA) scored again, grossing $26.8M to bring its two-week total to $111.5M despite increasing press mentions charging the film with whitewashing the group's treatment of women.
- Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation (VIA, VIAB) took second place with $11.7M, bringing its four-week total to $157.8M. The new entries followed: Sinister 2 (CMCSA) in third with $10.6M; videogame convert Hitman: Agent 47 (FOX, FOXA) in fourth with $8.2M, and American Ultra (NYSE:LGF) sixth with $5.5M.
- In international markets, Terminator: Genisys (VIA, VIAB) is putting on a rebound, taking the top spot due to a big bow in China. The film has drawn just $89M domestically, but its worldwide total is $353M thanks to foreign markets. It was the fourth-best opening ever for a U.S. film in China.
- Stock movements among film producers have a heavy effect from today's market melt: CMCSA -1.5%; VIA +0.6%; VIAB -0.9%; FOX -2.2%; FOXA -1.9%; LGF -2.3%.
Thu, Aug. 20, 3:39 PM
- The Weather Channel is hoping some buyer can make it rain, as it's reportedly hired J.P. Morgan and PJT Partners to seek a sale for up to $3B.
- The network -- owned in part by NBCUniversal (CMCSA -2.2%) along with Bain Capital and Blackstone (NYSE:BX) -- could sell as a whole or in parts. The digital pieces (websites, Weather Underground and several B2B sites) might be the most valuable.
- The 2008 deal to purchase the company was valued at $3.5B. It reportedly began interviewing banks last year.
- In its second-quarter earnings, Comcast said its net income included $252M of equity in net losses of investees resulting from its proportionate share of an impairment loss at The Weather Channel.
- Previously: Dish signs multi-year deal with Weather Channel, including Sling TV (Apr. 21 2015)
- Previously: Carriage dispute drops Weather Channel from Verizon FiOS (Mar. 10 2015)
- Previously: Weather Channel reportedly mulling strategic options (Sep. 12 2014)
Wed, Aug. 12, 11:07 AM
- Masayoshi Son's double-down on the future of Sprint (S -6.4%) came after he and another top executive at SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY), Nikesh Arora, floated the idea of selling the company to Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and to France's Altice (OTCPK:ATCEY) -- but getting no uptake, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- "I should go back to where I was focused," he says -- the Internet side of SoftBank -- though a long slog is ahead yet, if he's to turn around a company that hasn't turned an annual profit since 2006.
- Son was banking on a merger with T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) and calls his misjudgment of U.S. regulators "one of the biggest mistakes in my life." Now, the focus is on improving the carrier's network as hopes for restarting a merger push with T-Mobile are on hold until after the 2016 presidential election.
- Son appeared on Sprint's earnings call last week to reiterate excitement about the company's future under Marcelo Claure, who Son calls "my soul mate ... a street fighter sharing the underdog experience like myself."
- But fixing Sprint is turning out to be staggeringly expensive. Sprint doesn't have the money for a once-and-for-all fix, Son concedes, and SoftBank's covenants with banks prevent sinking more cash in.
- Ominously, SoftBank has recently invested $1B in a handful of South and Southeast Asian start-ups, and plans to invest more than $10B in India alone.
Mon, Aug. 10, 2:26 PM
- Fox's expensive reboot of Fantastic Four might face a write-off after stumbling from the box-office gate this weekend amid bad word-of-mouth and critical reviews.
- Fox (FOX -1.4%, FOXA -0.1%) inherited the Marvel property and had hopes for a hero franchise that could rival X-Men, though the film will need a huge overseas reception to realize those dreams.
- The $26.2M it earned was below expectations of $40M, ensuring it finished second behind Paramount's Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA +2.2%, VIAB +2.5%), topping the box office with $29.4M ($108.7M in its two weeks).
- Among longer-term August players, Ant-Man (DIS +1%) earned $7.8M to bring its domestic total to $147.4M in four weeks, and Minions (CMCSA +1.3%) drew $7.4M to total $302.8M in five weeks.
Thu, Aug. 6, 1:01 PM
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) is down another 5.2% today (down 13.7% in two days) amid a deepening media stock sell-off that it seems to have spurred with its Tuesday earnings report, where it took a fair chunk of time on an analyst call acknowledging subscriber losses at ESPN.
- Also off broadly at midday: CBS -3.1%; CMCSA -4%; FOXA -9.8%; VIAB -15.6%; TWX -5%; AMCX -9.6%; LGF -6.7%.
- The sell-off is affecting several companies with a cable or pay-TV component, as sub losses at ESPN -- the most valuable part of any cable bundle -- point to the effect of cord-cutting.
- Analysts are agreeing that the trend of unbundling (or skinny bundling) might threaten the long-term health of the pay TV ecosystem, which has profited from the promise of rising subscription fees from providers. That's dependent on subscriber counts that don't significantly drop off.
- A growing pile of reports this week is indicating warning signs for subscriber counts. Dish Network (DISH -2.2%) had "almost certainly the worst quarter" for satellite subscriber losses, analyst Craig Moffett noted, as it merged Sling TV subscriber growth into its overall count, masking the core number. Moffett estimates Dish lost 151K satellite TV customers in Q2.
- Subscriber losses mean lower affiliate fees. Disney said in its call "we now expect domestic cable affiliate revenue [growth] to fall short of previous expectation, but still in high single digits."
- Other industry decliners: CRWN -8.9%; QVCA -5.4%; STRZA -6.1%
- Previously: Disney tumbles 8.9% after revenue miss; Iger talks ESPN again (Aug. 05 2015)
- Previously: Disney's Iger bullish on ESPN despite consumer changes, unbundling (Aug. 04 2015)
Mon, Jul. 27, 1:24 PM
- Adam Sandler's Pixels opened to a slack $24M at the domestic box office, allowing Marvel's Ant-Man (DIS -0.5%) to crawl away with the crown for another week.
- Ant-Man drew $24.8M to bring its two-week haul to $106M. Critically slammed Pixels, for its part, barely outdrew Minions (CMCSA -1.4%), which pulled $22.1M in its third week to finish No. 3.
- Pixels' merely-OK showing is a setback for Sony Pictures (SNE -2.1%), sitting around eighth place among major distributors this year and looking for its first $100M film since The Equalizer.
- Trainwreck (NASDAQ:CMCSA) made $17.3M to bring its two-week total to $61.5M. Among the weekend's other key debuts, boxing film Southpaw (Weinstein Group) beat Paper Towns (FOX -1%, FOXA -0.9%), $16.5M to $12.5M, despite playing in fewer theaters. The two films were No. 5 and No. 6 in domestic receipts respectively.
- Previously: Sony hoping for breakout with videogame film 'Pixels' (Jul. 24 2015)
Mon, Jul. 27, 9:52 AM
- Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) have renewed their carriage agreement -- a move that wasn't without bumps as Discovery opposed the cable giant's Time Warner Cable takeover earlier this year.
- The companies say they've signed a "long-term, comprehensive" renewal, including TV Everywhere rights.
- Both stocks are trading down with the broader U.S. market: CMCSA -1.9%; DISCA -0.6%.
Thu, Jul. 23, 11:18 PM
- As six Hollywood studios fell into the crosshairs of Europe's regulators -- who filed formal antitrust charges today related to pay TV access -- Disney (NYSE:DIS), for one, promised a vigorous fight.
- Responses were more straightforward, or absent, among the other targets: NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB), Sony Pictures Entertainment (NYSE:SNE), 20th Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) and Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX).
- Along with Sky UK (OTCQX:SKYAY), the six are charged with creating improper licensing deals that prohibited viewers outside the UK and Ireland from accessing paid Sky programming, blocking much of Europe from watching U.S. films and TV.
- "The impact of the commission’s analysis is destructive of consumer value and we will oppose the proposed action vigorously," said a Disney spokesperson.
- The charges are the result of 18 months' investigation by the European Commission. They may not stop at Sky, as investigations are ongoing into pay TV providers in Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Geographic limitations on digital viewing is seen to be holding back the unity of a fragmented European market.
- The bottom line: The EU could fine companies up to 10% of global annual revenue.
- Today: DIS -0.5%; CMCSA -3.2%; VIA -0.7%; VIAB -0.3%; SNE +2.9%; FOX -1.4%; FOXA -1.4%; TWX -1.2%; OTCQX:SKYAY -1.7%.
Thu, Jul. 23, 3:19 PM
- Building on a stellar year, Universal Studios (CMCSA -3.3%) says it's greenlighting a Jurassic World sequel to come to theaters June 22, 2018 -- news that star Chris Pratt hinted at during press events, saying "They have me for I think 38 movies or something."
- Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard will return as stars, and director Colin Trevorrow will co-write the screenplay with Derek Connolly.
- The news comes in concert with Jurassic World becoming the third-highest grossing picture of all time, its $1.52B worldwide total just passing Marvel's The Avengers. It'll likely settle there: It has just one territory left to open (Japan), ticket sales are slowing as expected, and the top two have a big cushion (Avatar, with $2.79B, and Titanic, with $2.18B).
- The fifth-highest grosser is Furious 7 ($1.51B), which means Universal has put two films in the all-time top five just this summer.
- Previously: Comcast -2.8% as investors see mixed Q2 results (Jul. 23 2015)
Thu, Jul. 23, 3:03 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has fallen 2.8% in the wake of this morning's second-quarter earnings release.
- On an earnings call, execs said the company is ramping up deployment of its X1 platform, deploying 30K set-top boxes each day and "pushing to be even faster."
- "We continue to believe X1 is an absolute game changer, better connecting our customers to content serving as a platform for so much more," said CEO Brian Roberts, noting that VOD usage is up and churn is down as the deployments proceed.
- Comcast added customer relationships on a net basis (+31,000) in what is traditionally a weak quarter in that area, and Cable CEO Neil Smit pointed to lower churn and gave some credit to customer service improvements: "The percent of the customers who are calling and speaking to agents is down 15%. ... So our waiting times are down and we're getting it right."
- Smit confirmed the company would be doing a market trial of DOCSIS 3.1 in Q4. The technology has the blue-sky capability to deliver 10 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps up, though those speeds are a good ways off.
- Citigroup's Jason Bazinet tempered his reaction: "While video net losses beat, broadband net adds were a touch light” and “NBCU, while solid, saw mixed results ... In all we expect a muted reaction to the quarterly results.”
- Previously: Comcast -0.9% premarket after in-line Q2 boosted by entertainment (Jul. 23 2015)
- Previously: Comcast at INTX: $300M investment in customer service (May. 05 2015)
Tue, Jul. 14, 5:33 PM
- Fresh off an announcement of its own streaming video service, Comcast (CMCSA -0.8%) is beginning a beta test for Xfinity Games, a streaming videogame service it's developing with Electronic Arts (EA -1.8%).
- Considering the payload of streaming a game, the service is focused on older and mobile-oriented versions of games, like FIFA 13, NBA Jam or Plants vs. Zombies -- which makes it more of a competitor with other streaming game offerings rather than with major consoles.
- The simpler nature of the games means it's not set for a specialized controller, so players control the games with mobile phones or tablets.
Mon, Jul. 13, 3:14 PM
- Universal (CMCSA +1%) kept its 2015 winning streak going as Minions logged the second-best animated film opening ever, drawing $115.2M at home to top the box office (and even more overseas).
- The only animated film that opened better was 2007's Shrek the Third. It helped that Minions was literally everywhere (4,301 theaters).
- Two other openers were swept up in the chaos. The Gallows (TWX +1.2%) drew $10M to take fifth place, and Self/less got $5.38M to take eighth.
- The rest of the top five: Jurassic World (NASDAQ:CMCSA), $18.1M ($590.6M cumulative in five weeks); Inside Out (DIS +1.4%), $17.1M ($283.6M cumulative in four weeks); Terminator: Genisys (VIA +1%, VIAB +1.2%), $13.7M ($68.7M cumulative, two weeks).
- Combined with $124.3M outside the U.S. this week (and a bit more from an early global rollout), Minions has made just short of $400M worldwide. It would need momentum, but a $1B global mark isn't out of the question. The film hits 11 more territories in the next two months.
Mon, Jul. 13, 10:02 AM
- After last night's reveal of its cord-cutter focused streaming video service, Comcast (CMCSA +1.2%) is now offering pricing details on its 2-Gbps "Gigabit Pro" high-speed Internet option, and aggressively promoting it.
- The cableco will carry a promo price of $159/month for the fiber-to-the-premises option, a little over half the regular price of $300/month.
- That's less than the $400/month that it's been charging for existing 505-Mbps service, and those subscribers will be moved to Gigabit Pro. Customers need to be within a third of a mile of Comcast's fiber network, and agree to a two-year contract with fees like $500 for service activation and $500 for professional installation.
- The service is coming available in the areas that Comcast has been pressing (and where it is responding to competition from AT&T and Google): in Atlanta and Chicago, and areas of Florida, California, Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee. Comcast plans to make it available to 18M customers by the end of the year.
- Previously: Comcast launches Stream video service for its cord-cutter customers (Jul. 13 2015)
- Previously: A hint for Comcast's 2-Gig pricing? (May. 11 2015)
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