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Thu, Jan. 28, 12:35 PM
- Hulu is shoring up its documentary cred with a deal to become the exclusive home of documentaries by IFC Films after their theatrical release.
- The agreement covers documentaries put out by IFC Films, IFC Midnight, and Sundance Selects. The first film covered will be King Georges, about French restaurateur Georges Perrier, followed by City of Gold (about food critic Jonathan Gold) and Sundance premiere Weiner (about former congressman Anthony Weiner).
- Weiner, though, will hit Hulu (CMCSA, FOX/FOXA, DIS) after a 15-month exclusive run on Showtime (which also can be added to Hulu).
- The documentaries will be available on Hulu's Limited Commercial and No Commercial plans.
Tue, Jan. 26, 10:05 AM
- Count Atlantic Equities among the chorus concerned about growth at ESPN, though Disney (DIS +0.4%) investors are unconcerned so far today.
- The firm has downgraded Disney to Neutral and dropped its price target on shares from $148 to $104, which implies 8.7% upside from today's $95.70 price.
- Disney has about five years to figure out how to go over the top before ESPN "starts to become a drag," the firm's analyst Hamilton Faber says. “With strong pricing, we believe ESPN profits can remain relatively flat over the next five years but, in the absence of a convincing [direct to consumer] model, declining subs will lead to significant profit contraction at the unit over the following five years.”
- The firm has changed its underlying subscriber estimates to assume a faster contraction in U.S. pay TV subs: 2% a year, compared to a previous 1.5%/year. It sees Disney's 2016 EPS at $5.64 (down from $5.66), and 2017 EPS at $6.22 (down from $6.40).
Mon, Jan. 25, 3:38 PM
- The much-discussed worry about subscriber losses at ESPN (DIS -1.6%) may be overdone, JPMorgan argues in a new note.
- "At ~17x our F2016E EPS compared to a forward multiple of ~22x in before the August earnings call, we believe Disney shares are extremely attractive at these levels with the subscribers issue in particular exaggerated."
- While Disney's subscriber declines across all networks are about 2% a year, that's not the entire story, the firm says; base advertising will grow about 5% and there should be modest revenues coming from an over-the-top ESPN service expected to launch in 2018.
- As for the two big catalysts: Star Wars is launching a profitable franchise, and June's opening of Shanghai Disney offers a "great opportunity."
- Previously: Disney -4.1% as Barclays adds studio worries to ESPN fretting in downgrade (Jan. 15 2016)
- Previously: Disney -2.2% as Macquarie downgrades, Cowen sees tougher 2016 (Jan. 05 2016)
- Previously: Disney -1.4% as Jefferies stays cautious, 'Star Wars' sets global mark (Dec. 21 2015)
- Previously: WSJ: Disney setting June 16 to open Shanghai park (Jan. 12 2016)
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.
Wed, Jan. 20, 2:49 PM
- Star Wars: Episode VIII, the storyline follow-up to The Force Awakens, has gotten seven more months to work, as Walt Disney (DIS -1.8%) has delayed its release to Dec. 15, 2017.
- The film had been set to open May 26, 2017, where it was expected to try to take share from a Terminator: Genisys sequel and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
- Its new date puts it up against Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One (NYSE:TWX) -- though of course the further away the date, the fuzzier the exact release expectations.
- Disney hasn't suggested that any troubles are contributing to the delay, pointing instead to the success of The Force Awakens' schedule: "In the popular holiday moviegoing corridor, it smashed numerous records, including biggest domestic and global debuts of all time as well as the biggest domestic second and third weekends, en route to becoming the highest grossing domestic release of all time with over $861M and the third biggest global release ever with $1.887B."
- Episode VIII, directed by Rian Johnson, is scheduled to begin shooting next month in London. Johnson tweeted a video link to his feelings.
- Updated 6:01 p.m.: Disney isn't leaving the May 26 date idle, moving Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales earlier from a previous July 7, 2017, date.
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.
Tue, Jan. 19, 4:44 AM
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens led China's box office for a second week, pushing ticket sales in the world's second-biggest movie market past $100M.
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) is counting on China to bolster earnings from the epic after buying the Star Wars franchise in 2012 and announcing plans to make more installments.
- While the latest episode slipped from first place to third this past weekend in the U.S., Nomura estimates it will bring in $230M over its full run in mainland cinemas.
Fri, Jan. 15, 9:24 AM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is down 4.1% premarket as fresh concerns emerge from Barclays in a downgrade to Underweight from Equal Weight.
- Its worries about valuation compression point to the usual suspect -- ESPN -- but also a studio-business slowdown. Analyst Kannan Venkateshwar has lowered Disney's price target to $89, from $98. Shares closed yesterday at $99.11.
- ESPN's model is especially hurt by subscriber losses, Venkateshwar argues, given its dependence on the bundle cross subsidy in pay TV. But the new doubt is cast on an atypical valuation area, the studio business.
- The idea that franchise acquisitions alleviate risk to Disney's model is questionable, Venkateshwar says. Disney has seen little growth in the business over the past eight years aside from Frozen, despite the anchor franchises provided by Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios.
- At best, Barclays says, Disney should trade in line with peers with its major catalysts behind it, ESPN woes, balance sheet liabilities and the prospect of a transition in management ahead.
- Previously: ESPN opens website's e-sports section, investing in coverage (Jan. 14 2016)
- Previously: WSJ: Disney setting June 16 to open Shanghai park (Jan. 12 2016)
Thu, Jan. 14, 4:08 PM
- ESPN (DIS +0.7%) has opened an e-sports section on its website for business, with plans to "aggressively" cover competitive videogaming.
- With e-sports building into a $500M industry, “the storyline was so compelling that we decided there was no reason we shouldn’t be doing this on a daily basis with the same rigor we cover the National Football League or other sports,” says ESPN's Chad Millman.
- Writers hired for the ESPN.com section will make regular appearances on TV's SportsCenter as soon as this weekend, coinciding with the newest League of Legends season.
- The site's navigation has three subsets for now, dedicated to League of Legends, Dota 2 and Hearthstone.
- Earlier, analysts at Drexel Hamilton initiated Walt Disney at a Buy rating.
Thu, Jan. 14, 10:09 AM
- The Revenant (FOX +1%, FOXA +0.7%) and Mad Max: Fury Road (TWX -0.2%) are the big-studio story of the Oscar nominations, with 12 and 10 overall nods respectively.
- Those two earned Best Picture nominations along with The Big Short (VIA -0.7%, VIAB -0.3%); Bridge of Spies (DIS -0.5%); Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight); Fox's The Martian; Room and Spotlight.
- Among box-office successes that were largely left out: Despite becoming the highest-grossing domestic film ever, Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens was unsurprisingly skipped for Best Picture but took five technical nominations; Universal's (CMCSA +0.6%) historic earner Jurassic World (fourth-highest gross ever) received no nominations; and its $200M worldwide hit Straight Outta Compton drew only a nomination for original screenplay.
- Among big studios, Fox drew the most nominations (20, though Ridley Scott was snubbed as director of The Martian, and not counting Fox Searchlight); Disney drew 13 overall; Warner Bros. 11 (10 from Mad Max); Paramount six; Universal three.
Tue, Jan. 12, 8:05 PM
- With its deal with Netflix (NFLX +1.4%) expiring (alongside expirations with Hulu and station owner Tribune Media (TRCO +1.3%)), the CW Network (CBS +0.5%, TWX +2.1%) is even considering creating its own over-the-top streaming service, Bloomberg reports.
- Going over-the-top is all the rage among ratings-challenged media networks now, and the CW's two co-owners are no strangers: CBS All Access launched in late 2014 offering live and on-demand shows, and Time Warner's HBO Now launched straight to viewers in time for last spring's Game of Thrones premiere.
- The lineup of the expirations may make timing right for the CW, which is suffering about 13% lower prime-time ratings this year.
- Similar to the CBS service, the CW could offer a live feed along with a library of on-demand content. Sources said such a direct-to-consumer play is inevitable for the network and prices discussed are around $2-$4/month.
- Netflix currently has past seasons of CW programs while Hulu (CMCSA +0.3%, FOX +1.8%, FOXA +2.1%, DIS +1.5%) offers current seasons.
- Previously: CW explores new streaming partners as Netflix deal expires (Jan. 11 2016)
- Previously: Nexstar sets new long-term affiliate deal with the CW (Dec. 21 2015)
Tue, Jan. 12, 6:51 PM
- ESPN (DIS +1.5%) absorbs a bit of a blow today, as its second national championship game in the College Football Playoff era shed viewers compared to last year.
- The game (a 45-40 Alabama win over Clemson) averaged 25M viewers, a dip from last year's 33.6M viewers (which, to be fair, was a record cable telecast).
- The network came in for some criticism after boldly sticking to a plan to run its national semifinal games (Alabama-Michigan State and Clemson-Oklahoma) on New Year's Eve, where they showed 34% and 44% ratings declines respectively.
- Surprisingly, the title game drew fewer viewers than the college basketball championship final between Duke and Wisconsin (which pulled 28.3M viewers last spring).
- The game did generate more than 2M tweets generating a unique audience of 9.7M Twitter users, ESPN said.
Tue, Jan. 12, 4:34 PM
- After years of construction, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) will open its $5.5B Shanghai Disney Resort on June 16, making a self-imposed first-half deadline, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- The company had previously planned for a 2015 launch before ratcheting back expectations to the first half of 2016 amid significant construction, political and cultural challenges.
- The announcement itself is a bit late but may reflect the hurdle of coordinating an announcement with China's officials, the WSJ says.
- Major construction on attractions is near completion and 2,000 of 10,000 needed employees are hired, so hiring and training will likely dominate the next several months.
- Disney shares gained 1.5% today; they're off 0.6% so far after hours.
Tue, Jan. 12, 1:55 AM
- Following up on plans well in the works in the fall, Sony (NYSE:SNE) and ESPN (NYSE:DIS) are ready to launch two ESPN channels in India on Sunday.
- Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD will launch then, the first steps in a multiplatform collaboration between the two that will also result in a website and app.
- In October, the two said that Sony's KIX sports channel would rebrand as Sony ESPN and add the heavy digital presence. The menu will include adding major college sports, boxing and the X Games to the lineup Sony had in place, heavy on cricket, soccer, the NBA, NFL and rugby.
- Its first event as Sony ESPN will be tennis' Australian Open, and it will develop programs around major cricket events to take advantage of the sport's primacy in India.
Mon, Jan. 11, 7:38 PM
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens drew $53M in its opening weekend in China after posting the country's best Saturday opening ever with $33M.
- The closely watched China total added to an estimated $145.9M in global grosses for the Walt Disney (DIS +0.7%) film over the weekend, which propelled it past Jurassic World to make it the third-highest grossing film of all time.
- While a poll of theater operators figures the film to draw $200M-$330M total in China, Stifel's Benjamin Mogil thinks the film has what it takes to become the country's biggest U.S.-made movie -- and that means passing Furious 7 and its $391M total.
- He figures $450M in China, in fact: "The Chinese performance expectations had been somewhat of concern heading into the opening, given that the franchise is new to the market, but clearly this worry was for naught."
- JPMorgan reiterated its Buy rating on Disney shares today.
- Previously: 'Star Wars' opens to records in China (Jan. 09 2016)
- Previously: Disney makes it official: 'Star Wars' is all-time domestic box-office king (Jan. 06 2016)
Walt Disney Co together with its subsidiaries is a diversified entertainment company with operations in five business segments: Media Networks, Parks and Resorts, Studio Entertainment, Consumer Products and Interactive.
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