Tue, Sep. 8, 10:35 AM
- Walt Disney (DIS +2.1%) is working to put the "anywhere" into its Movies Anywhere offering, expanding the streaming service to Amazon.com Video and Microsoft Movies and TV today, with a move to Roku devices and Android TV next week.
- The service had launched on iTunes, Google Play and Vudu last year. Disney says the new expansion will bring its cloud videos to 90% of the digital retail market.
- The move builds on the service's value proposition for many parents who see value in owning Disney content rather than renting it: Buy Frozen once, leave it in the cloud and view in any number of places or devices.
- The expansion also comes ahead of Disney's 2016 deal with Netflix -- which focuses on new films rather than library content that has sometimes been hard to find on streaming services.
Tue, Sep. 8, 9:33 AM
- In a rearrangement of what it offers football-viewing cord cutters, the NFL is merging what was a separate highlight service into Game Pass -- a $99/year offering that will let subscribers listen to all games via live audio and watch complete regular-season games via TV as soon as the games are over.
- As such, it's not a head-on challenge to existing broadcasters of the games (CBS, CMCSA, DIS, FOX, FOXA) -- where live sports still may be the key glue holding traditional program bundles together -- but it offers viewers more choices in a media environment where almost every week brings another content provider breaking off to go over the top to viewers. The on-demand games will have additional camera angles as well.
- The consolidation of the NFL's app approaches is the latest in a number of digital changes for pro football this year, from a game exclusively offered via Yahoo, to record streaming options on CBS, to Verizon's data-pumping plan of making in-season games available to mobile customers.
- Previously: Verizon streaming NFL games to all service plans (Sep. 02 2015)
- Previously: CBS plans record NFL streaming broadcasts, including Super Bowl (Sep. 01 2015)
Wed, Sep. 2, 7:56 PM
- The buildup to Star Wars' "Force Friday" is under way, with Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) 18-hour toy rollout having kicked off a short time ago via its live YouTube channel.
- It began in the morning local time in Sydney, with a custom lightsaber-building toy kit from Hasbro. Eighteen hours is a long time for opening 15 toys, though, so there's a bit of a lull until the Tokyo unboxing at 10 p.m. ET (schedule).
- "Force Friday" is an all-out promotional effort, coming more than three months before Star Wars: The Force Awakens (the film) bows. The merch will likely add hundreds of millions of dollars to Disney's 2016 revenues, leading up to another film in December 2016.
- The lead manufacturer of the toys is Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS), and other producers include Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), collectible-card company Topps, Lego, Rubie's Costumes and Tobar novelties.
- Previously: Disney Infinity 3.0 launches with 'Star Wars' characters (Aug. 31 2015)
- Previously: Disney up 2.8%; schedules 18-hour YouTube 'Star Wars' toy rollout (Aug. 26 2015)
Wed, Sep. 2, 4:57 PM
- Prestige studio Miramax, previously rumored to be exploring a sale, has hired Morgan Stanley to find a buyer, Bloomberg reports.
- Qatari investment bank QInvest will co-advise on the process, which is said to start formally after the Labor Day holiday. The studio is part-owned by Qatar through the country's sovereign wealth fund.
- Miramax could be looking for up to $1B after its current owners bought it from Disney for $660M in 2010, and bidders could include streaming services like Hulu (CMCSA, DIS, FOX, FOXA), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) or Amazon.com's Instant Video (NASDAQ:AMZN), or studios like MGM or oft-rumored buyer Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF).
- Miramax's most recent release is Mr. Holmes, with Ian McKellen as famed detective Sherlock Holmes, and it currently produces From Dusk Till Dawn, the TV adaptation of the film now in its second season on the El Rey network.
Wed, Sep. 2, 11:14 AM
- Hulu is launching a subscription option that will give viewers a commercial-free experience, if they're willing to pay more.
- An $11.99/month level will provide ad-free programming, or subscribers can choose a $7.99/month option with "limited" commercials.
- Current subscribers won't have to switch from their deal, but can elect to go commercial-free for an additional $4/month.
- Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +1.3%), Disney (DIS +0.6%) and Fox (FOXA +0.3%) -- has been aggressively moving on content acquisition in a bid to better complete with Netflix and Amazon.com's video lineup.
- The company says for viewers who choose the limited-commercial level, "Hulu will continue to show fewer commercials than scheduled television."
Wed, Sep. 2, 10:53 AM
- Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks studio is set to leave Walt Disney (DIS +0.3%) and find a new distribution home after a six-year arrangement that showed mixed results and few blockbusters.
- The label is in talks with Universal Pictures (CMCSA +1.2%), The Hollywood Reporter writes. And going back to Paramount (VIA +1.7%, VIAB +2.3%) is a possibility.
- DreamWorks left Paramount for a Disney deal in 2009 just after breaking off talks with Universal. Spielberg's maintained offices at Universal, though, and was a hands-on executive producer to its monster hit Jurassic World, making him important to extensive future dinosaur-related plans.
- Spielberg's deal with Disney expires next August, just after the release of fantasy story The BFG, an adaptation of the Roald Dahl book.
- DreamWorks won't be going with hat in hand: It has hundreds of millions in new commitments from Participant Media and other sources, meaning it won't have to fight for funds as it did during its Disney cold streak.
Mon, Aug. 31, 10:01 PM
- A reportedly frustrated Kevin Feige -- president of Marvel Studios (NYSE:DIS) and producer on a number of its films -- will report to Disney studio chief Alan Horn rather than Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, in a reorganization that started last week, The Hollywood Reporter writes.
- A Disney statement characterizes the move as a continued centralization of film functions along with those of Pixar and Lucasfilm, though friction between Feige and Perlmutter was widely reported.
- Feige has had a key role in Marvel's transformation into a film juggernaut and its $4B sale to Disney six years ago.
- Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb will continue to report to Perlmutter.
Mon, Aug. 31, 5:41 PM
- Disney's (NYSE:DIS) got big worldwide plans for its Star Wars toys, with an 18-hour "unboxing" event set to start on its YouTube channel Wednesday evening (U.S. time), but yesterday already brought a galactic update to an underperforming product.
- The third iteration of its toys-to-life product, Disney Infinity 3.0, has added Star Wars characters for mixing with others from its Marvel and Pixar properties, as well as a slightly revamped game experience in an improved "Toy Box" mode with a wider variety of games and level design capabilities.
- Reviews so far are good; critics are praising the exponential increase in options it provides, while noting some holdover flaws from previous versions.
- Disney noted in its quarterly earnings that results were down for Infinity, due to fewer unit sales and lower average net effective pricing.
- The Infinity 3.0 starter pack retails for $64.99, and accessories include power disc packs ($9.99), character figures ($13.99), play sets ($34.99) and a $114.99 Star Wars Saga bundle, exclusively for Sony.
Mon, Aug. 31, 11:48 AM
- Disney (DIS -0.3%) stock is "much more attractive" today than a month ago, Macquarie's Tim Nollen notes in reiterating the firm's Outperform rating and $122 price target.
- Long-term Disney bulls would agree; shares have declined 15% over the past month, including a drop after its earnings report that sparked a media-sector sell-off.
- It's trading at $102.20, implying 19% upside in Macquarie's target.
- Nollen sees three catalysts in the near term that are well and familiar to Disney investors: The return of college and pro football for ABC/ESPN; Star Wars; and Disney's park in Shanghai.
- Despite Disney chief Bob Iger's talk of subscriber losses, ESPN is one of the few basic cable nets that could succeed over the top, Nollen says, and Star Wars should "easily" net $500M in licensing/retail revenue alongside $5B in first-year consumer merchandise sales and $2B grosses for the movie.
- 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)
- Previously: Disney's Iger: ESPN could go direct to consumers one day (Jul. 27 2015)
Sun, Aug. 30, 5:57 PM
- Epix will team with Hulu (CMCSA, DIS, FOX, FOXA) in a distribution deal to replace its pact with Netflix, TheWrap reports.
- Earlier, Netflix posted that its deal with Epix -- a cable/satellite network run by a joint venture of Paramount (VIA, VIAB), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lions Gate Entertainment (NYSE:LGF) -- would lapse at the end of September, meaning some high-profile Hollywood films would cease to be available to Netflix subscribers.
- Epix and Hulu could announce their deal as soon as tonight.
- Updated: Epix confirms a multi-year, non-exclusive deal with Hulu to begin Oct. 1.
Wed, Aug. 26, 2:58 PM
- The only "big" thing moviegoers are likely to see over the year-end holidays is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as Disney (DIS +2.1%) sets an exclusive pact to take over every Imax (IMAX +1.5%) screen in North America (and most overseas as well).
- The deal applies to the first four weeks of the film's run, opening Dec. 18. It's unusual for Imax to set aside every screen this way, but the company had done it before, with the Hobbit movies in a 2011 deal.
- Rivals with Imax-friendly releases might feel the pressure. Warner's In the Heart of the Sea opens Dec. 11 and will get a week before the exclusive, and Fox's The Revenant opens Jan. 18 and then will try to claw into Imax screens against what might be a juggernaut.
- November's James Bond sequel Spectre and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2 will clear out of the big-screen format by mid-December.
Wed, Aug. 26, 9:21 AM
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) -- up 2.8% premarket after five days where it declined more than 10% -- will splash the debut of toys tied to Star Wars: The Force Awakens in an "unboxing event" live on YouTube.
- The event will span 15 locations and take place over 18 hours next Wednesday and Thursday, starting with the first unboxing in Sydney at 5:45 p.m. ET Wednesday (7:45 a.m. local time).
- A new toy will be showcased at each location, wrapping up at Lucasfilm in San Francisco at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, Sept. 3.
- Disney will host the video live on its Star Wars YouTube channel.
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, 6:02 PM
- Chief Content Officer Erin McPherson and senior VP of Marketing Jeremy Welt have left multichannel video producer Maker Studios, in the network's highest-profile executive departures since Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) bought it for $500M last year.
- McPherson had joined Maker Studios prior to the Disney deal, after serving as VP and head of video for Yahoo. Welt had left and rejoined Maker previously, having left for Sean Combs' Revolt TV.
- Executive VPs Bonnie Pan and Gabriel Lewis will take over McPherson's programming duties, the company said in an update, and Marketing VP Glenn Frese will take over Welt's duties in the interim.
- Disney shares are down 0.5% after hours, after dropping 3.5% during market hours today.
Fri, Aug. 21, 3:25 PM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is having a (relatively) decent day, down just 0.5% amid a marketwide meltdown that's deepening toward the close.
- Analysts have been coming in with updates after a rough month for the Mouse, down 18.4% since releasing earnings that disappointed investors Aug. 4. Cowen & Co. reiterated their Market Perform rating while lowering the stock's price target to $89, from $98.
- Shares closed yesterday at $100.02. A somewhat more bullish Barton Crockett at FBR reiterated their rating of Outperform and $124 target, looking at near-term positive catalysts -- particularly merchandise coming in just two weeks for what might be "the biggest movie series ever": Star Wars.
- "We do not think that level of retail support for a movie has ever happened before, setting this up to be the most merchandizable movie series ever," he writes. Retailers are set to open at midnight Sept. 4 to push a first batch of paraphernalia.
- Meanwhile, the return of fooball has him relatively unconcerned about ad sales and affiliate fees, which Disney guided to grow in the high single digits.
- Previously: Disney, Comcast enjoying summer of (box-office) love (Aug. 20 2015)
- Previously: Disney, Time Warner lower as Bernstein downgrades on fee worries (Aug. 20 2015)
- Previously: Disney expo: Previewing new 'Toy Story,' 'Finding Dory' (Aug. 15 2015)
Thu, Aug. 20, 7:07 PM
- How much are Disney and (especially) Comcast's Universal dominating the box office this summer (and, along with that, the year)? Enough that the two studios have combined for 61% of domestic ticket sales since the first Friday in May.
- With a few weeks left until Labor Day, the summer grosses in North America could come to $4.4B, an all-time record.
- The two studios have just over 47% of market share for 2015 to date, and seven of the year's top 10 grossing films.
- Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX) is the best of the also-rans, with 14.3% share of the summer box office and 16.7% of 2015. But a relative lack of summer success from Fox (FOX, FOXA), Paramount (VIA, VIAB), Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF) presages a tough fall ahead for most.
- Disney's scores have come with just eight films this year, vs. Universal's 12 and Warner's 17. Paramount had just two films out this summer. Lionsgate's only two summer films are Shaun the Sheep and this weekend's American Ultra, though it can look ahead to the final film in its Hunger Games series due in November.
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) is up 6.2% YTD (and was up 29% for 2015 until this month's media meltdown); Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is up 0.6% YTD (and was up 12% at its late-July high point).
- Previously: 2015 box office: Universal 138% ahead of 2014 pace with $1.38B home grosses (Jul. 04 2015)
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.
Other News & PR