• Sun, Jan. 15, 9:26 AM
    • Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS)-owned Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate film performances of the late actress Carrie Fisher, best known for her role as Princess or General Leia Organa, in upcoming installments of the blockbuster series.
    • Such technology was utilized in the newly released Rogue One, in which a digital embodiment of Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, returned for the role of the Grand Moff Tarkin.
    Sun, Jan. 15, 9:26 AM | 19 Comments
  • Thu, Jan. 12, 3:36 PM
    • After hitting a 52-week high yesterday, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is off 1.7% today following a downgrade and a sharply lower price target from Pivotal Research.
    • Despite stellar results at the company's studio, which just came off a record year at the box office, Disney faces "soft TV audience trends, ongoing erosion of ESPN’s subscriber base and mixed reports on Shanghai Disneyland from Asian press."
    • While advertising had been strong through the end of Q3, “At an operating level, 4Q16 and 2017 have mixed characteristics."
    • Analyst Brian Wieser cut the firm's price target to $86 from $102, implying 20% downside ahead.
    Thu, Jan. 12, 3:36 PM | 46 Comments
  • Mon, Jan. 9, 7:37 PM
    • Final numbers later Monday pushed historical drama Hidden Figures (FOX, FOXA) to the top of the weekend box office chart, denying Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (NYSE:DIS) a fourth week at No. 1.
    • Critically praised Hidden Figures, which expanded nationwide, drew $22.8M to edge Rogue One's $22.1M with the help of Sunday attendance. The Star Wars spin-off had been estimated to have a narrow lead on Sunday.
    • The two were closely followed by Sing (NASDAQ:CMCSA), at $20.7M, just ahead of the week's biggest debut -- Underworld: Blood Wars (NYSE:SNE), which grossed $13.7M.
    • Golden Globes darling La La Land (NYSE:LGF.A) doubled its theater count to show in 1,515 locations, and grossed $10.1M to settle into the fifth spot.
    • Rogue One has earned a cumulative domestic gross of $477.4M in four weeks, and a total of $914.5M worldwide.
    Mon, Jan. 9, 7:37 PM | 2 Comments
  • Mon, Jan. 9, 4:23 AM
    • In China, reigniting Star Wars fever appears to be a goal far, far away for Disney (NYSE:DIS).
    • According to comScore, Rogue One opened this weekend to a fairly tepid $31M over three days at the country's box office.
    • That was about 60% of what The Force Awakens grossed in its first two days - a year ago - in the world's second-largest movie market.
    Mon, Jan. 9, 4:23 AM | 34 Comments
  • Fri, Jan. 6, 5:23 PM
    • Even with the upcoming end to promotional pricing at its DirecTV Now streaming service, AT&T (T -2%) will still have a (smaller) $35/month package on offer -- an important note as Hulu prepares a live TV service "under $40."
    • While AT&T's $35 price for its 100-channel DirecTV Now package reverts to $60/month on Monday, it will still offer its smallest package (60-plus channels) for $35/month -- and that's good enough for most, analyst Craig Moffett notes.
    • "Virtually all of the channels that anyone would really want, save for regional sports networks, are included in the $35 'Live a Little' package," Moffett says, although that package lacks America's top broadcast network -- CBS, which sealed a deal to be included in the service at Hulu (CMCSA, DIS, FOX/FOXA, TWX).
    • Stepping up to $50 a month makes sense for DirecTV Now's real sports fans, but going up to $60 or $70 per month gets users mostly a bunch of filler, Moffett says.
    Fri, Jan. 6, 5:23 PM | 24 Comments
  • Fri, Jan. 6, 8:13 AM
    • Investor sentiment has turned on Disney (NYSE:DIS), says Steven Cahall, with fears subsiding over distribution revenue and ESPN (a near-20% run higher since early Nov. would seem to indicate so).
    • Then there's "massive balance sheet potential": Disney is levered at just 1x EBITDA; at 4.5x, the company would have more than $65B in firepower for transformative M&A.
    • He upgrades to Outperform with $130 price target (more than 20% upside).
    • Shares +0.8% premarket
    Fri, Jan. 6, 8:13 AM | 28 Comments
  • Thu, Jan. 5, 2:23 PM
    • Facing tough comps in its film business in 2017, Walt Disney (DIS -0.2%) will also see profits dinged by higher programming costs, according to its chief financial officer.
    • Speaking at Citi's Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference, CFO Christine McCarthy says programming costs that are expected to grow by 8% will crimp results. Web TV services are seeing demand from customers, but they're not a substitute for over-the-air, she says.
    • The company plans just seven films this year vs. 12 that it released in a record-breaking 2016, resulting in a tough comparison for the studio. But she's "encouraged" by 2018, when the company again plans an 11-film slate.
    • The Parks & Resorts business is continuing to grow, she says, and nothing has changed in the company's M&A strategy.
    Thu, Jan. 5, 2:23 PM | 19 Comments
  • Wed, Jan. 4, 6:04 PM
    • Football again drove weekly TV ratings and pushed NBC (CMCSA +1.2%) to its sixth straight weekly win, a streak it hasn't mustered in 21 years.
    • Meanwhile on the cable side, key college bowl games led ESPN (DIS +1.3%) to a runaway victory. The sports network averaged 8.38M viewers in prime time, far ahead of Fox News (FOX +0.9%, FOXA +1%) with 1.86M and Hallmark with 1.73M. The pregame and game broadcast for the championship semifinal of Washington vs. Alabama were second and fourth among individual programs, with 18.9M and 18.4M viewers respectively.
    • Overall, ESPN college football programs took six of the top 10 ratings slots, with pro football on NBC taking another three. CBS (CBS +2.1%) newsmagazine 60 Minutes was 10th with 11.72M viewers, edging out ABC's 10 p.m. hour of New Year's Rockin' Eve (11.56M).
    • In broadcast ratings, NBC averaged 6.21M viewers, ahead of CBS at 5.75M. ABC logged 4.14M viewers and Fox 3.2M.
    • ABC's World News Tonight took the nightly news lead with 8.95M viewers, ahead of NBC Nightly News with 8.8M.
    Wed, Jan. 4, 6:04 PM | 2 Comments
  • Wed, Jan. 4, 2:16 PM
    • With the announcement of a deal with CBS putting one of the last remaining puzzle pieces into place, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins says his company's upcoming live TV streaming service will cost "under $40" and arrive in the next few months.
    • That's reminiscent of AT&T (NYSE:T) chief Randall Stephenson's promise that the DirecTV Now streaming service would be priced "very aggressively." The price on a DirecTV Now package of 60-plus channels is $35/month; AT&T also offers 80-plus channels for $50/month and 120-plus channels for $70/month; its 100-plus channel package is $35 now and reverts to $60/month on Monday.
    • Hulu's $40 price will include the basic on-demand subscription that Hulu offers separately for $8 a month, along with a cloud DVR service at launch time. DirecTV Now lacks both DVR functionality and a CBS deal.
    • Meanwhile, Hulu lacks a deal with NBCUniversal, though that company is a part-owner of Hulu, so an agreement isn't expected to be a major hurdle.
    • Hulu owners: CMCSA, DIS, FOX/FOXA, TWX. Other live TV streaming rivals: DISH, SNE
    Wed, Jan. 4, 2:16 PM | 37 Comments
  • Wed, Jan. 4, 1:59 PM
    • Hulu has confirmed it's signed a licensing agreement with CBS (CBS +2.1%), to carry the CBS broadcast network along with CBS Sports Network and POP, on its forthcoming live streaming TV service.
    • That doesn't include the full complement of networks that many expected (for example, it leaves out the CW and Smithsonian), though Hulu (CMCSA +0.9%; DIS +1.1%; FOX +0.6%, FOXA +0.6%; TWX +0.3%) says the deal has the potential to add additional networks in the future.
    • Much of the programming will not only be available live but also on demand, though CBS will retain full-season stacking for its own CBS All Access service.
    • The two already have a deal to offer Showtime as premium add-on; the new deal extends that arrangement.
    • Previously: WSJ: Hulu, CBS to announce live-service carriage deal; CBS +3.1% (Jan. 04 2017)
    Wed, Jan. 4, 1:59 PM
  • Wed, Jan. 4, 1:06 PM
    • Walt Disney's (DIS +1.2%) Parks & Resorts unit has recalled some 15,000 infant sweatshirts that present a choking hazard.
    • No injuries or incidents have been reported. The Minnie and Mickey Mouse infant hoodies have a three-snap closure and were sold at Disney World, Disneyland and on the Shop Disney Parks mobile app between April and October.
    • Consumers were asked to immediately stop using the hoodies and contact Disney to return them for a full refund.
    Wed, Jan. 4, 1:06 PM | 1 Comment
  • Wed, Jan. 4, 12:11 PM
    • CBS (NYSE:CBS) and Hulu are expected to announce a deal today where the streaming service will license the CBS broadcast network and some of its cable nets for the planned Hulu live TV service, The Wall Street Journal reports.
    • CBS shares have jumped in response, up 3.1%.
    • The deal is said to cover only the live service, not Hulu's existing on-demand offering. Full current seasons of popular CBS shows on demand would remain exclusive to CBS' own streaming service, CBS All Access. But Hulu will get a few recent episodes of such shows, and CBS will bring in more than $3 per monthly subscriber in the deal at first.
    • Eventually in the long-term deal, though, CBS could get more than $4 per monthly sub -- more than what it makes from existing pay TV distributors.
    • Hulu -- co-owned by CBS rivals Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Disney (NYSE:DIS), Fox (FOX, FOXA) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) -- has already signed other major groups including owners Disney, Fox and Time Warner.
    • Updated 12:14 p.m.: Hulu owners' stocks are on the move: CMCSA +1.6%; DIS +0.8%; FOX +1%; FOXA +1.1%; TWX +0.4%.
    Wed, Jan. 4, 12:11 PM
  • Tue, Jan. 3, 3:52 PM
    • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story led domestic films at the box office for the holiday weekend and gave Walt Disney (DIS +1.7%) its final push toward a unique milestone: the $3B mark.
    • With $49.5M in the three days, the Star Wars story held its lead over second-week films Sing (CMCSA -0.1%), with $42.8M, and Passengers (SNE +1%), with $16.2M. (For the four-day holiday weekend, Rogue One drew $64.3M; Sing $56.4M; and Passengers $20.7M. Disney's Moana took fourth for good measure with $14.3M.)
    • Rogue One's solid weekend pushed it to $789.7M worldwide.
    • With 2016 numbers in, Disney became the first studio ever to mark a $3B year at the domestic box office. As with other milestones for the studio this year, its cause was led by its "Big Three" (the industry's three biggest grossers overall): Finding Dory ($486.3M domestic); Rogue One ($439.7M and counting); and Captain America: Civil War ($408.1M).
    Tue, Jan. 3, 3:52 PM | 19 Comments
  • Tue, Jan. 3, 11:48 AM
    • Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is up 2% to mark a new 52-week high after Evercore ISI moved to upgrade shares to one of its top picks.
    • The firm has a Buy rating and price target of $120, implying 13% upside. Overall, analysts tend to split between Hold and Buy and consensus price target is around $109 vs today's $106.26.
    • Evercore's price target is one of the most bullish. Loop Capital recently reiterated its Buy rating with a target of $113.
    • Disney shares had wrapped an up-and-down 2016 on a down note, finishing 0.8% lower for the year.
    Tue, Jan. 3, 11:48 AM | 12 Comments
  • Sun, Jan. 1, 9:43 AM
    • A Shanghai court has ordered two Chinese firms to pay Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Pixar more than 1.35M yuan ($194,440) compensation for copying parts of their hit movies Cars and Cars 2, according to the Xinhua news agency.
    • The ruling is the latest in a slew of intellectual property wins for large foreign firms, who have complained about widespread copyright infringement in China.
    • Previously: Qualcomm to gain fees from China's Meizu (Dec. 30 2016)
    Sun, Jan. 1, 9:43 AM | 16 Comments
  • Sun, Jan. 1, 8:08 AM
    Sun, Jan. 1, 8:08 AM | 34 Comments