Jan Martinek • 18 Comments
J Mintzmyer • 397 Comments
Apr. 24, 2015, 7:30 PM
- Comcast has ended its pursuit of Time Warner Cable, but what about that lawsuit from content companies that threatened to slow the whole thing down?
- Companies including CBS, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) argued that the FCC's sharing hundreds of thousands of pages of negotiating strategies with third-party merger opponents like Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) would be "highly damaging." The fight was likely to add several weeks to any related merger consideration.
- The suit, still at the U.S. Court of Appeals, is still in progress because it also involved the ongoing AT&T (NYSE:T) deal to acquire DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV). Attorneys close to the case are figuring that the Comcast-TWC documents will now be off the table as a moot point.
- Still, the decision likely still has an impact on the timeline for AT&T/DirecTV. The FCC will file an updated notification with the court.
- Previously: AT&T sells third-biggest debt offering to fund DirecTV purchase (Apr. 23 2015)
- Previously: Comcast, TWC move higher premarket on merger's end (Apr. 24 2015)
- Previously: It's over: Comcast officially ends $45B pursuit of TWC (Apr. 24 2015)
Apr. 9, 2015, 9:08 PM
- Don't let recent merger challenges and failures fool you, Michael Wolff argues: "M&A mania" is coming to a media conglomerate near you amid pressure for a new wave of consolidation.
- "Perhaps never before has consolidation been so much the flavor of the month, nor has it seemed so difficult to get a taste," he writes. "The table is set, but nobody's sitting down to eat."
- If Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) fails in its bid for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), he notes, it just means other cablers will step up to match Comcast's ambition, and Comcast will still look for a way to stay dominant.
- He points to a number of mergers he thinks are easily imaginable: Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA) and FOX? Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)? TWC and Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR)? Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA) and, well, most anyone (Disney, Fox, CBS)?
- Factors encouraging the wave: Media's all about video now, and the pure-play aspect makes merger logic cleaner; distribution and content are separate and now even antagonistic businesses; the growth of over-the-top means not unbundling but re-bundling; and everyone needs scale for negotiation strength in content and ad deals.
- Other key players: John Malone (LMCA, LBTYA, STRZA); Verizon (NYSE:VZ); Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF); Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI); Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX); DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) and AT&T (NYSE:T); Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH).
Mar. 13, 2015, 4:28 PM
- As signaled before, the FCC has paused the 180-day "shot clock" on reviewing two megamergers -- Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) deal for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), and AT&T's (NYSE:T) deal to buy DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- as it's tied up with another case over programming contracts.
- The review of the deals was set to expire by the end of March, but now may take somewhat longer, likely several more weeks.
- The cause is the ongoing dispute with programming firms -- Disney (NYSE:DIS), CBS, Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), Viacom (VIA, VIAB) and others -- over whether third parties commenting on the mergers will get access to private documents containing sensitive pricing and strategy information.
- The FCC has argued it has sufficient protections to keep those details from getting out. But the merger reviews now appear to be dependent entirely on that case's timetable.
- "In reaching this conclusion, the commission reserves the right to restart the clock as it believes will best serve the public interest," the FCC said.
Dec. 31, 2014, 8:42 AM
- Streaming: Sony (NYSE:SNE), HBO (NYSE:TWX), CBS (NYSE:CBS), and Dish Networks (NASDAQ:DISH) are set to unveil streaming products in 2015. The theory of the companies that the skinny bundles will draw in more cord-cutters and cord-nevers than they will cannibalize current pay-TV subscribers will be put to the test. The rush of streaming options could help or hurt Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) depending upon which analysis an investor leans on.
- Theater traffic rebound: Exhibitors (CNK, RGC, AMC, CKEC, IMAX) and movie studios (LGF, VIA, VIAB, DIS, FOXA, CMCSA, TWX) maintain that the decline in theater attendance in 2014 (-6%) was due to a slate of films light on blockbusters. A bounce is forecast for 2015 with high-profile films such as Avengers: The Age of Ultron, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Fifty Shades of Grey, Jurassic World, Spectre (James Bond), and Mission Impossible 5 all set to premiere - along with the reboot of the Star Wars franchise in December. Capex spending on theater upgrades could also help boost in-theater spending and average ticket price for exhibitors.
- Mergers: If regulators allow the Comcast-Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) and AT&T-DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) mergers to sail through it could clear a path for other media combinations, note analysts. Potential buyers include Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), Wanda Group, Softbank (OTCPK:SFTBY), and a TWX-rebuffed 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA). Content producers which could be targets include Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA), Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF), DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA), AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX), and Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI). A split-up Madison Square Garden (NASDAQ:MSG) could also be enticing.
Aug. 14, 2014, 9:11 AM
- Wanda Group tops a list of potential acquirers of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) put together by The Hollywood Reporter.
- The Chinese real estate conglomerate is already building a $1.2B compound in California and has promised to make Wanda a global brand through major entertainment property purchases.
- If a Wanda bid fails to materialize, some other heavy hitters are waiting in the background.
- Disney (NYSE:DIS): The combination of Marvel and DC Comics is a natural, while the enormous leverage opportunities presented could make the acquisition price easier to digest.
- Apple: Scrapping up the cash for a TWX offer isn't a concern for the Cupertino tech giant, while the enormous content library could give the Apple TV product the edge it needs.
- Google: The company has been coy about making a major media acquisition, but some analysts think the time is right to ensure it holds its position as peers diversify into content.
- 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA): Though Rupert Murdoch seems to have permanently wadded up the offer for Time Warner, some analysts say where there's an ego there's a way.
Jul. 17, 2014, 1:20 PM
- If 21st Century Fox (FOXA +0.1%) strikes a deal to buy Time Warner (TWX +3.7%), media analysts thinks a chain reaction will occur.
- CNN will almost assuredly be unloaded, most likely to Disney (DIS +0.6%) or CBS (CBS +2.5%).
- The development could also draw out a tech giant such as Apple or Google to make a bid for content-heavy Lions Gate (LGF +0.1%) or Discovery Communications (DISCA +2.2%).
- Though premiums in the media sector are expected to get quite frothy, having significant content owned in perpetuity might pay off in the future as some licensing costs go away.
- Looking for a wildcard scenario? NYT M&A writer David Gelles thinks a spoiler plan would see Time Warner take the defensive measure of trying to buy out CBS.
- A catch-all for investing in media stocks is the PowerShares Dynamic Media ETF (NYSEARCA:PBS).
Jul. 9, 2014, 8:42 AM
- Select media stocks could see some volatility this week with the Allen & Co. Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho expected to get some M&A rumors kickstarted.
- This year's affair arrives with two mega-mergers (AT&T-DirecTV and Comcast-Time Warner Cable) looming large in the industry, and in a development which bodes well for content owners, will be attended by tech heavyweights such as Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, Netflix's (NFLX) Reed Hastings, and Twitter's Dick Costolo.
- The eclectic mix also includes Warren Buffett and NBA commissioner Adam Silver who will chat up media execs with the NBA TV contract up for bid soon.
- Analysts expect the Allen conference to be high on stock-moving rumors, but light on binding deals.
- Rumored deals: A Discovery Communications (DISCA)-Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI) merger; Verizon (VZ) taking a run at Hulu (DIS, CMCSA, FOXA); 21st Century Fox (FOXA) offering a hefty premium for Time Warner (TWX).
- Related ETF: PBS
Jun. 13, 2014, 8:14 AM
- Media analysts note that the P-E firms which own a piece of Univision are probably itching for a cash-out with their investment now a ripe seven years old.
- Though Time Warner and CBS are the two companies reported to have sat down with Univision, it's likely that Disney (DIS) is also watching the developments closely.
- Univision could provide a fresh distribution channel for Disney's well-known franchises.
Apr. 14, 2014, 6:22 PM
- A short, dry PR from Maker Studios makes it clear the company has no intention to abandon Disney's (DIS) offer for the company (worth up to $900M) in favor of a last-minute bid from Relativity Studios (reportedly worth up to $1.1B in cash and stock).
- Though shareholders don't officially vote on Disney's offer until tomorrow, Maker says the deal has already been approved by "the majority of its shareholders." It's expected to close within the next few weeks.
Apr. 14, 2014, 3:26 AM
- Relativity Media has offered to buy Maker Studios for up to $900M in stock despite the YouTube content provider agreeing to sell itself to Disney (DIS), the WSJ reports.
- Relativity, a mid-sized film and entertainment company, is bidding $500M up front and $400M in milestones. Relativity is also proposing a $100M "bonus pool" to Maker's "key talent and executives."
- Disney, though, is offering $500M in cash and $450M in additional payouts. A source said he believes that the companies have a binding agreement and so the Relativity offer would have no effect. Maker's shareholders are due to vote on the bid tomorrow.
Mar. 24, 2014, 5:48 PM
- As rumored, Disney (DIS) is acquiring top YouTube content provider Maker Studios. The media giant is paying $500M up-front + up to $450M in performance earn-outs.
- Maker receives 5.5B monthly video views via 380M YouTube channel subscribers. Disney asserts the startup also provides it with "advanced technology and business intelligence capability regarding consumers discovery and interaction with short-form online videos."
- Maker segments its videos into one of four "networks": Men, Women, Family, and Entertainment. Its material ranges from fashion shows to music performances to children's cartoons.
Feb. 13, 2014, 12:48 PM
- The media industry is busy evaluating the impact of a Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger even if the DOJ clips the size of the deal a bit.
- A key word for content providers today is leverage. A larger Comcast (CMCSA), (broadband and Pay-TV) would give it additional clout in negotiating retransmission contracts with networks (CBS, FOXA, AMCX, DISCA, SNI) and studios (DIS, TWX, LGF, SNE, DWA, VIAB) for home video sales.
- The relationship between streaming firms and Comcast could get more complicated. Though studios rake in money from Netflix, if Comcast ever decides to charge its massive base of broadband subscribers on a usage basis - both Netflix (NFLX) and Hulu are in harm's way.
- Companies with future ambitions in the online TV area (think Sony) might see additional pressures from a larger Comcast. In theory, the media giant could launch a similar national service.
- Related ETFs: PBS
Dec. 6, 2013, 5:43 PM
- Disney (DIS) has acquired the marketing/distribution rights for future Indiana Jones films from Paramount. The media giant already had ownership rights to the films through the Lucasfilm acquisition.
- Paramount will maintain distribution rights for the first four Indiana Jones films, and will financially benefit from the release of future films.
Jul. 24, 2013, 4:59 PM
Hulu's owners (DIS, CMCSA, FOXA) have called off talks to sell a 25% stake to Time Warner Cable (TWC) after failing to agree on price, Reuters reports. The news service adds talks could resume, but none are currently planned. The report comes less than 2 weeks after Hulu's owners announced they aren't selling the company, and will provide it with a $750M cash infusion to buy more content (much of it coming from the owners themselves).| Jul. 24, 2013, 4:59 PM
Jul. 15, 2013, 2:06 AMTime Warner Cable (TWC) was still in talks to acquire a holding in Hulu even after an auction for the video-streaming service was abandoned, Bloomberg reported over the weekend, and an agreement could be reached within two weeks. The speculation appears to contradict a statement on Friday from Hulu's owners - Fox (FOXA), Disney (DIS) and Comcast (CMCSA) - that they "will maintain their respective ownership positions" in the video-streaming service. In the auction, TWC had bid for a 25% stake. | Jul. 15, 2013, 2:06 AM
Jul. 12, 2013, 1:26 PM
Hulu's old media owners (DIS, CMCSA, FOXA) have decided not to sell the company, or even a stake in it, and will instead provide a $750M cash infusion while maintaining their current equity positions. Reported demands for a slew of streaming/licensing restrictions likely helped scuttle buyout/investment talks with the likes of DirecTV (DTV), Time Warner Cable (TWC), and AT&T/Chermin (T), much as they helped scuttle 2011 talks. Netflix (NFLX +4.4%) is probably pleased. (previous)| Jul. 12, 2013, 1:26 PM | 18 Comments