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Yesterday, 3:06 PM
- With millions of viewers taking in the de facto national holiday of the Super Bowl, box office receipts slipped 8% Y/Y and those who did get out had little to excite them aside from a fighting panda and the Coen Bros.
- Total box office was $93.5M, compared to an American Sniper-boosted $101.8M last year. Kung Fu Panda 3 (DWA -1.9%, Fox distributing) led easily for the second week in a row, drawing $21M to bring its total to $69M. Meanwhile, the Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar! (CMCSA -0.9%) performed as expected (lightly) with $11.4M to fall into No. 2.
- The Revenant (FOX -2.8%, FOXA -3%) with $7.1M, again edged Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS -3.9%) and its $6.9M for third place. New films The Choice (LGF +0.3%) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies disappointed with $6.1M and $5.2M respectively.
- In Star Wars marks, the film crested $900M domestically to add to its best-ever total, and crossed the $2B global-gross milestone over the weekend, getting it closer -- but not too close -- to Titanic's $2.19B.
- With a $178M gap to cross, it may take a long engagement for Star Wars to surpass Titanic's global numbers, and it's unlikely to catch Avatar ($2.78B) for the all-time global crown. Disney reports earnings tomorrow.
Fri, Feb. 5, 7:04 PM
- Don't count on broadcast networks' live musical events going away anytime soon, as Fox (FOX -4.5%, FOXA -3.9%) has nailed a hit with its production of Grease: Live this week.
- In live-plus-three-day viewing, the live musical grew from initial estimates to total 14.6M viewers. That's a strong gain from 12.2M first-day viewers, as delayed views on VOD, Hulu and Fox Now (somewhat ironically) pumped up the live show's initial total.
- It also beat NBC's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) latest production, The Wiz, which drew about 11.1M total viewers in December (though The Wiz was up against NFL football). NBC has pioneered the investment in big-production live musical events, drawing millions to watch The Sound of Music Live, Peter Pan and The Wiz.
- Fox will encore Grease: Live on March 27 -- Easter Sunday -- and is also working on Tyler Perry's biblical The Passion for March, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show later this year.
- Previously: NBC sets 'The Wiz' as next live musical event (Mar. 30 2015)
Fri, Feb. 5, 1:57 PM
- Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT) is pulling back a bit, down 3.5%, after a strong 6.9% gain yesterday post-earnings.
- Stephens upgraded the firm to Overweight from Equal Weight and raised its price target from $52 to $63, implying 30% upside from its current price of $48.29.
- Valuation is improved after a recent sell-off (Level 3 has declined 10% over the past month), says Stephens' Barry McCarver, who notes revenue growth is picking up after the company achieved its synergy target from integrating TW Telecom.
- “EMEA and Latin America should continue to improve as the company invests in its network and has opportunities for more acquisitions," McCarver notes. "Headwinds from International revenue have neutralized and may become tailwinds this year.”
- The company guided to significantly higher cash flow in the coming year, and some analysts think that could mean not only a possible repurchase program but also acquisitions.
- The company could go after privately held XO Communications, says Cowen's Colby Synesael, or it could be a target itself -- for a buyer like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA).
- Previously: Level 3 up 7% as revenues, profits grow (Feb. 04 2016)
- Previously: Level 3 EPS in-line, misses on revenue (Feb. 04 2016)
Wed, Feb. 3, 12:45 PM
- On Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Q4 earnings call, the company made its next step into telecom service by confirming it will file as a bidder in the FCC's wireless spectrum auction.
- They're only going to act against AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile "if the price is right" after they evaluate what ends up available.
- Shares are up 4.1% now and are touching their highest point in over a month.
- The company confirmed it paid $130M for 475 acres "adjacent to an existing theme park" -- likely a chunk of land alongside Universal Orlando, which has been pinched for space, and which could provide room for multiple parks, hotels and studio operations.
- Outside of any spectrum spending, Comcast has added $5B to its buyback program -- on the low side of expectations, but CFO Mike Cavanagh said it wouldn't go lower due to auction outlays.
- It also increased its dividend 10% to $1.10 (annualized).
- Previously: Comcast results close to estimates, video and high-speed adds strong (Feb. 03 2016)
- Previously: Comcast declares $0.275 dividend (Feb. 03 2016)
- Previously: Comcast misses by $0.01, beats on revenue (Feb. 03 2016)
Wed, Feb. 3, 7:37 AM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is pointing higher in premarket action after delivering largely in-line Q4 results.
- Operating income rose 5.7% Y/Y to $3.787B.
- Cable Communications revenue was up 5.9% to $11.31B. Cable rev growth breakdown: Video +4.4% to $5.19B; High-speed Internet +9.8% to $2.9B; Voice -1.7% to $916M; Business Services +18.9% to $1.1B; Advertising -9.3% to $703M; Other +6.4% to $537M.
- NBCUniversal revenue rose 13%, led by a 26% jump with the Filmed Entertainment segment off of strong home entertainment performances for Minions and Jurassic World. Cable networks revenue was up 3.4% to $2.327B.
- Overall customer relationships increased 281K, up 58% Y/Y to 27.7M, with high-speed Internet adds of 460K the best mark for the quarter in nine years. Video customer net adds of 89K were also tallied.
- Capex spending was up 19% to $2.6B during the quarter.
- Previously: Comcast misses by $0.01, beats on revenue (Feb. 03 2016)
- CMCSA +0.53% premarket to $54.88.
Tue, Feb. 2, 12:37 PM
- After Walt Disney (DIS -1.7%) floated trial balloons last year over demand-based pricing at its theme parks, Universal Studios (CMCSA -1.6%) is becoming the first to fully launch the model, anticipating heavy crowds at the April 7 opening of its attraction "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter."
- In Universal's case, visitors buying at the gate will still pay $95. But booking online for low-demand days can save park visitors up to $20. Discounts will still be smaller on weekends and peak demand periods.
- The move can help Universal manage demand and comes with perks for customers: Those who book online can enter the Harry Potter area an hour before the rest of the park opens.
- Harry Potter attractions have been a big revenue driver for Comcast, and no doubt Disney is watching closely: It may want to better manage demand for its "Star Wars" land when it opens in Anaheim.
- Previously: Disney polls guests on demand-priced park ticket scheme (May. 28 2015)
Fri, Jan. 29, 11:22 AM
- A Trumpless debate resulted in the second-smallest TV ratings of the Republican debate cycle, though Fox News (FOX +1.5%, FOXA +1.7%) will be pointing to the fact that it still beat rivals' coverage of Trump's counter-debate rally.
- Last night's debate was seen by 11M-13M viewers, an 8.4 rating -- beating only last month's Fox Business debate among the GOP tilts (which, to be fair, have all been heavy in traditional terms). Fox News' first debate in August drew a crush of nearly 24M viewers.
- Even with Trump skipping, Fox easily beat coverage provided by CNN (TWX +0.6%) and MSNBC (CMCSA +1.8%) of Trump's veterans' rally, and had structured ad deals such that the Donald's absence wouldn't sting the pocketbook.
- Updated 12:45 p.m.: Final numbers show 12.5M viewers for the debate between 9 and 11 p.m. ET, while CNN and MSNBC had about 2.7M viewers combined.
Thu, Jan. 28, 3:49 PM
- Fox News (FOX -1.4%, FOXA -1.6%) scored a ratings coup last summer when it drew the highest viewership ever to a primary debate in the first GOP debate, with the help of poll leader Donald Trump.
- As the channel prepared to show its second debate tonight, Trump's reignited feud with Fox News and withdrawal threatened to dampen those ratings -- and in fresh news, CNN (TWX -2.1%) and MSNBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) plan to cover at least some of Trump's competing event tonight.
- MSNBC says it will cover a speech by Trump in the 9 p.m. hour, Variety's Brian Steinberg says, while CNN might treat it as a live news event.
- Previously: Fox debate draws crush of 24M viewers; Stewart gets 3.5M for finale (Aug. 07 2015)
Tue, Jan. 26, 2:41 PM
- In cable ratings, Fox News (FOX +2.9%, FOXA +2.6%) has reclaimed its crown following a newsy event to cover: Winter Storm Jonas hitting the East Coast.
- The network averaged 2.1M viewers to lead cable nets for the second week out of three this year, just ahead of HGTV (SNI +2.7%), with 1.7M on average. Third place was split between USA Network (CMCSA +1.1%) and TBS (TWX +1.8%).
- Fox News also led on a 24-hour basis (with real help from the storm, as all-day ratings can be dominated by children's programming). In the adults 18-49 demographic, TBS was the leader.
- The top two single programs were nabbed by Discovery (DISCA +4.2%) -- Gold Rush with 4.5M viewers, and Alaska: The Last Frontier with 3.7M, just ahead of USA's 8 p.m. hour of WWE Monday Night Raw.
Mon, Jan. 25, 12:17 PM
- Snowy film The Revenant (FOX -1.2%, FOXA -1.3%) led a box office weekend that was held down itself by a winter blizzard that crippled East Cost travel and dampened receipts.
- The Leonardo DiCaprio film drew $16M to top Star Wars: The Force Awakens' $14.3M (DIS -0.9%) and the $12.97M of Ride Along 2 (CMCSA -1%).
- Overall receipts fell 32% from last week -- and down 29% Y/Y -- to a total of $113M. Moviegoing was cut by up to 12% with some 400 locations affected by Winter Storm Jonas.
- The week's best debut came from Dirty Grandpa (LGF -2.3%), starring Zac Efron and Robert De Niro, which grossed $11.5M.
- The Force Awakens, meanwhile, pushed its record domestic gross to $880M ($120M better than No. 2 Avatar), and slowing worldwide grosses came to $1.94B, now about $247M behind all-time No. 2 Titanic.
- Previously: 'Ride Along 2' unseats 'Star Wars' atop U.S. box office (Jan. 19 2016)
Wed, Jan. 20, 6:50 PM
- Football is holding up its end of the bargain in winter TV ratings again, boosting NBC, CBS and ESPN.
- College football's championship game on ESPN (DIS -1.5%) endured a slip in Nielsen ratings from last year, but its 25.67M viewers were good enough for third place in the Jan. 11-17 period.
- That game was beaten in the week only by playoff football. NBC's (CMCSA -1.2%) broadcast of an NFC playoff game between Green Bay and Arizona was No. 1 with 33.73M viewers, and a CBS (CBS -3%) postgame show for the AFC's Pittsburgh-Denver game was second with 31.17M viewers.
- Games, pregame and postgame shows made up seven of the top 10 shows, booting Fox Business' (FOX -3.1%, FOXA -2.7%) GOP debate to 11th place with 11.09M viewers.
- Of non-football programs that broke the top 10, it was all CBS again: 60 Minutes (featuring Charlie Rose's interview with Sean Penn, and taking a lead-in from the Pittsburgh-Denver game) took the No. 6 spot with 20.62M viewers; The Big Bang Theory was seventh with 15.75M; and Madam Secretary was ninth with 11.87M.
Tue, Jan. 19, 1:54 PM
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS +0.2%) fell out of the top spot in U.S. box office in this, its fifth weekend of release -- yielding the lead to Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio.
- In totals including the Martin Luther King Day holiday, Ride Along 2 (CMCSA +0.3%) drew $41.6M to lead U.S. grosses, followed by The Revenant (FOX +1.1%, FOXA +1.5%) with $39M. The Force Awakens was No. 3 with $32.6M.
- Paramount (VIA +3.9%, VIAB +4.9%) held down the next two spots on the chart, with new film 13 Hours drawing $19.7M and Daddy's Home pulling $12M.
- The Force Awakens shed theaters for the first time, but added to its all-time best domestic total, now $858.5M, and became just the fifth film ever to cross the $1B mark in international gross ($1.012B). Its worldwide total comes to $1.871B, good for the third all-time spot behind Titanic's $2.187B.
- While Nomura estimates $230M to come for The Force Awakens in China (and Stifel laid in a high expectation of $450M), the movie was bumped from a large number of the country's screens to make room for home-grown films -- it's already lost its box office lead there to Boonie Bears 3 -- and may top out at $150M or even less.
- While eyes were on China, the world's No. 2 film market where The Force Awakens crested $100M, it spent its fifth week at No. 1 in Japan with a cumulative total of more than $74M.
Fri, Jan. 15, 7:35 PM
- Media General (MEG -1.5%) and NBC (CMCSA -2.1%) have announced a renewal of their affiliation agreement in 13 markets.
- Media General's NBC stations get synchronized under a common agreement, now including affiliates in a number of states (Florida, Ohio, Texas, Michigan, Virginia, Kansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Iowa and Massachusetts).
- Meanwhile, in a strange turn, Media General's WNCN in Raleigh, N.C., has changed affiliation to CBS (CBS -1.8%) from NBC -- while the market's former CBS affiliate, Capitol Broadcasting's WRAL, is taking over the NBC affiliation.
- It's a bit of a swap, though not a transaction between NBC and CBS. One factor Variety points to is a dispute over how much CBS should have gotten from WRAL in reverse compensation -- a factor that had previously led CBS to switch affiliates in Indianapolis.
- NBC, meanwhile, tells Variety it got beachfront property, saying WRAL is "without doubt one of the most powerful and highly rated affiliates in the nation."
Thu, Jan. 14, 8:33 PM
- Ad sales for August's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro are on a pace to exceed $1B, the amount spent on the London games one Olympiad ago, NBC (CMCSA +2.8%) says.
- Advertisers are coming from a range of industries, including automotive, tech and healthcare, and digital ad sales are expected to be up 50% from the London games with significant changes having taken place in TV viewing patterns.
- NBC's Seth Winter predicted last year that NBC would top London's ad sales and deals made in the past two months are bearing that out, he says.
Thu, Jan. 14, 5:17 PM
- "The reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated," says NBCUniversal's (CMCSA +2.8%) Alan Wurtzel in a fairly full-throated defense of broadcast TV viewing at the Television Critic Association's press tour.
- In doing so, he took on Netflix (NFLX +0.5%) and revealed some data that's never made public about viewing of key series on the streaming service.
- Netflix has a "very different business model -— their business model is to make you write a check the next month," said Wurtzel. "I don't believe there's enough stuff on Netflix that is broad enough and consistent enough to affect us in a meaningful way on a consistent basis."
- He pointed to data from Symphony Advanced Media, which uses automatic content recognition in a mobile app to match a program's audio files and thus try for a glimpse at Netflix's ratings numbers.
- Symphony looked at the average audience 18-49 for all episodes of a Netflix show within 35 days of a series premiere, and examined September-December data. It found Marvel series Jessica Jones averaged 4.8M demo viewers, comparable to Modern Family. Master of None averaged 3.9M; Narcos 3.2M.
- Wurtzel said most viewers then returned to old (linear) habits by week 3, saying that then "people are watching TV the way that God intended. The impact goes away."
- "In terms of our business, YouTube is basically a sidebar," he added. "The amount of time spent on YouTube is ridiculously small" -- adults 18-24 spend 12 hours a month each watching YouTube vs. 62 hours watching linear TV.
Thu, Jan. 14, 12:34 PM
- Tegna (NYSE:TGNA) is up 3.9% after Evercore's upgraded the shares to Buy, following the company's new affiliation contract with NBC (CMCSA +2.4%).
- The firm has a $27 price target, 20% upside from current levels.
- Comcast had agreed to a renewal of all 17 Tegna NBC stations; while terms weren't disclosed, it's likely a 3-5 year deal (Tegna recently negotiated its CBS deal through 2019 and ABC contract through 2018).
- Tegna's also negotiated retransmission deals covering 57% of its subscribers (new agreements with DirecTV/AT&T and Dish Network), with the rest up at the end of the year.
- Core ad growth likely improved in the fourth quarter, Evercore's Tracy Young and Ivy Cong say, and the balance sheet should continue to improve with more debt reduction, even including $825M in buybacks over the next three years.
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