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Nov. 27, 2015, 10:12 AM
- Walt Disney (DIS -3.3%) tumbles more than 3% in early trade after disclosing late Wednesday that ESPN subscribers fell 3.2% Y/Y to 92M as of Oct. 3 - a level last seen a decade ago - from 95M a year earlier.
- Shares of DIS and other media stocks already were thumped over the summer when DIS said its cable business - in which ESPN comprises ~75% of total revenue - would see operating income growth only in the “mid-single digits."
- Wells Fargo’s Marci Ryvicker estimates the subscriber loss has cost $700M in FY 2015 cable affiliate fee revenue and $200M in 2015 cable EBITDA, although she reiterates a Market Perform rating on the shares.
Nov. 24, 2015, 1:49 PM
- A global travel warning issued by the U.S. Department is impacting several sectors. Hotel stocks are notably weaker, while amusement park stocks are also trailing broad market averages. Airlines are feeling a double whammy from travel demand concerns and a 3% rise in crude oil futures.
- In some cases the sell-off appears to be an overreaction with little evidence in that travel habits will change dramatically, according to some analysts.
- Decliners include Hyatt Hotels (H -1.5%), Hilton Worldwide (HLT -1.1%), Marriott International (MAR -1.8%), JetBlue (JBLU -1.7%), Delta Air Lines (DAL -3.3%), American Airlines Group (AAL -2.4%), United Continental (UAL -3.2%), Allegiant Travel (ALGT -5.3%), Spirit Airlines (SAVE -4.1%), Southwest Airlines (LUV -2.7%), Six Flags (SIX -1.0%), Cedar Fair (FUN -1.0%), Disney (DIS -0.9%), and Sabre (SABR -3.9%), Virgin Amerinca (VA -2.5%), Alaska Air Group (ALK -1.5%).
- Previously: PCLN, EXPE, TRIP sell off after State Department issues travel warning (Nov. 24)
Nov. 17, 2015, 5:19 PM
- The Hallmark Channel (CRWN +1.7%) is taking advantage of November's onset, switching to all holiday programming all the time and jumping to third in last week's cable ratings, averaging 1.78M viewers.
- The channel plans original films each year, and I'm Not Ready for Christmas drew 3.6M viewers on Saturday while Christmas Inc. pulled 2.5M on Sunday.
- For the week, Hallmark finished behind ESPN (DIS, 2.71M viewer average) and Fox News (FOX, FOXA, 2.29M average). It's planning original movies for each night during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as well, and viewership for the first two weeks of November are up 89% over October's average.
- CBS won prime time among big broadcasters again, averaging 10.2M viewers, ahead of NBC (CMCSA, 8.3M), ABC (6.2M) and Fox (3.6M).
- NBC Nightly News won newscasts with 9.3M, ahead of ABC's World News Tonight with 8.8M.
Nov. 12, 2015, 6:57 PM
- If Hulu sells a stake to Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), it would be an equal partnership with existing co-owners, meaning it would draw down the stakes of the other three -- Disney (NYSE:DIS), NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Fox (FOX, FOXA) -- to 25% each.
- The move would definitely be a strategic play against Netflix and Amazon.com for the service, which has gotten increasingly active in the past year with new subscription models and aggressive moves into original programming and licensing products away from competitors. Content spending reportedly went to $1.5B this year from $600M in 2014.
- Time Warner wouldn't just be putting in cash, it would be committing to license content beyond what it's already sold. Time Warner owns TV powerhouse Warner Bros. along with HBO, and Turner Broadcasting and its properties.
- It suggests that a sale in whole that was discussed in 2013 is further off the table now. The WSJ reports that the current (preliminary) talks value Hulu between $5B and $6B.
- Nervous content owners may favor a stronger Hulu and its closer relationship to existing TV vs. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), which they feel is accelerating cord cutting and lowering ratings. Netflix, which fell into the close down 3.5%, is off another 0.8% after hours.
- Previously: WSJ: Hulu looking at stake sale to Time Warner valuing it at $5B-$6B (Nov. 12 2015)
- Previously: With programming buildup, Hulu's losses increase (Nov. 06 2015)
- Previously: Hulu CEO: No current ambition for original movies, overseas expansion (Oct. 15 2015)
Nov. 9, 2015, 12:46 PM
- As expected, hits returned to the box office this weekend after a few weeks of drought, with Bond beating Brown (... Charlie Brown).
- Spectre (SNE -0.7%) drew $73M to become the second-biggest debut in the James Bond series, behind 2012's Skyfall, which scored $88M in its opening. After an early opening overseas, Spectre is strong internationally with $200M this weekend and cumulative numbers that topped $300M.
- Spectre has a bit of a haul to profitability, though, as its production budget hit $250M.
- Meanwhile, The Peanuts Movie (FOX -2%, FOXA -2.1%) won by counterprogramming for families, scoring $45M, with 38% of the audience under 18 and giving positive word of mouth.
- Fox's The Martian, which marked a number of weeks at the top against weaker fare, grossed $9.3M to hold third place ($197.1M in six weeks) while Sony's Goosebumps got $7M for fourth ($66.4M cumulative) and Bridge of Spies (DIS distributing) $6.1M for fifth ($55M cumulative).
- Coming after the worst week of the year, this weekend likely puts the film industry back on track for the first ever $11B year in domestic box office.
Nov. 4, 2015, 11:16 AM
- Cable TV networks are sinking in reaction to sharply lowered guidance from Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), which is using its conference call to lower expectations for ratings and subscribers in 2016.
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) was positive earlier but has tumbled 2.6%; Twenty-First Century Fox is off (FOX -4.6%, FOXA -4.9%); Viacom has sunk (VIA -5.2%, VIAB -6.2%); Discovery Communications as well (DISCA -4.3%).
- AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) is off 3.5% and Starz (NASDAQ:STRZA) down 2.1%.
- Time Warner is now -10% in reaction to its conference call, still ongoing.
- Previously: Time Warner dives 7.9%, cutting 2016 outlook on call (Nov. 04 2015)
- Previously: Time Warner -0.7% early after Q3 beats on strength at HBO, Warner Bros. (Nov. 04 2015)
Nov. 2, 2015, 1:35 PM
- The Martian (FOX +0.7%, FOXA +0.9%) continues to benefit from a dismal month for new film releases, taking the top spot for the fourth time in its five weeks of release as a number of debuts stumbled.
- The Matt Damon sci-fi adventure drew $11.4M (bringing its domestic total to $182.8M), and Goosebumps (SNE +1.4%) and Bridge of Spies (distributed by DIS +1.3%) benefited from weak competition as well, pulling $10.2M and $8.1M respectively to take the No. 2 and No. 3 spots.
- Bradley Cooper dramedy Burnt was the best of the new, taking the fifth spot with $5M, while Sandra Bullock-starring Our Brand is Crisis (distributed by TWX +1.5%) became the worst wide opener of her career, pulling just $3.4M from 2,202 theaters to finish eighth.
- A Halloween conflict with usually-busy Saturday was even worse than expected, as overall ticket sales dropped below the $75M mark, the worst weekend of the year.
- “All I can say is thank God Charlie Brown and James Bond are coming to save the day,” said Rentrak's Paul Dergarabedian.
Oct. 28, 2015, 8:12 PM
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (NYSE:DIS) still hasn't locked down a release in key market China, according to execs on the Imax earnings call, though they are hopeful that it can come in January.
- China maintains a 34-film quota for foreign releases and that number's been hit for 2015. So Disney needed to push to 2016.
- “We’re hopeful and optimistic" for a January release, says Imax Entertainment (NYSE:IMAX) President Greg Foster. "But until the date is finalized it’s only a ‘guesstimate.' " With heavy investment in China, Imax may need a quick China release even more than Disney.
- Imax chief Richard Gelfond said he thinks that within two years, China would pass North America to become the No. 1 movie market.
- Imax rose 1.9% after hours following its earnings release.
- Previously: Imax -0.4% after in-line profits, 40% gain in revenues (Oct. 28 2015)
Oct. 20, 2015, 7:15 PM
- Baseball's being very good to Turner (TWX +0.8%), as TBS rode the playoffs to a win in cable ratings last week.
- The network averaged 4.6M viewers in prime-time, largely due to a network-record pace for postseason baseball ratings, which are averaging 5.9M viewers.
- It beat ESPN (DIS; 3.2M) and sibling net CNN, which hit a 2.2M average on the strength of a Democratic debate that drew more than 15M.
- TBS also pulled a rare win on a 24-hour basis -- the usual province of children's programming like Nick and the Disney Channel -- and also among the 18-49 demographic.
- Its Saturday broadcast of game 1 of the NLCS (Mets-Cubs) was the sixth-most watched program of the week, behind the Democratic debate (and its pre-show and post-show), The Walking Dead on AMC (AMCX -6.3%), and Oct. 12's Monday Night Football (Pittsburgh-San Diego).
Oct. 15, 2015, 7:39 PM
- In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins covers at least a couple of differences from VOD giant Netflix: He's not planning a move into original movies, and has no plans to take the service overseas, for now.
- In other tidbits: He thinks the (reported) $700K/episode price for Seinfeld has been worth it ("Subscribers have flocked to that show in ways that we haven't seen with any other show"); its content investments are "quite a bit higher" than the $500M it reportedly spent in 2012; the biggest surprise hit is The Mindy Project, a top-five show there.
- As for its ad-free and limited-ad plans: "The mix of subscribers taking our no-commercials plan and limited-commercials plan is exactly what we projected. We assumed that a large majority of people would choose to stick to the limited commercials plan — and that's held true for new sign-ups as well."
- And the corporate ownership that used to vex former chief Jason Kilar is an advantage, Hopkins says: "We couldn't be doing what we're doing if it wasn't for the support of Fox (FOX +2.5%, FOXA +2.5%), NBC (CMCSA +1.8%) and ABC (DIS +2.1%)." An IPO or sale aren't in the plans until they build further, he suggests.
Oct. 15, 2015, 2:32 PM
- Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX +1.5%, FOXA +1.7%) is denying hot rumors of a superhero swap that would return film rights to the Fantastic Four series to Marvel (DIS +1.6%) in return for TV rights to X-Men.
- Fox is saying it's committed to more from the characters. The Fantastic Four has had a checkered film past, culminating in a most recent flop that's earned just $56M for Fox this summer.
- A 1994 adaptation was produced as an ashcan copy to retain rights and never released. A 2005 adaptation that Fox released made $155M domestically, and a 2007 sequel made $132M.
- Fox is planning a sequel to its most recent reboot for June 2017.
- Marvel and Fox are working together to develop a pair of TV shows set in the X-Men universe, tentatively titled Legion and Hellfire.
- Previously: 'Fantastic Four' falters, fails to top box office (Aug. 10 2015)
Oct. 13, 2015, 10:30 PM
- The Walking Dead's zombies may be showing a weakness, as the season premiere of the lead series from AMC Networks (AMCX -5.1%) gave up viewers from its last go-round.
- Sunday's premiere drew 14.6M viewers, compared to 17.3M last year and 16.1M in 2013, Nielsen said.
- To be fair, AMC noted it was up against a tough Sunday Night Football game, and it mused that a 90-minute premiere may have turned off viewers compared to shorter past premieres.
- The show's still a monster hit, finishing second only to NCIS among TV dramas this week.
- CBS took the overall ratings crown, averaging 10.3M viewers; ESPN (NYSE:DIS) was the most popular cable net, averaging 4.03M. Evening news was won by NBC Nightly News (NASDAQ:CMCSA), averaging 8.3M viewers.
Oct. 8, 2015, 11:52 AM
- ESPN (NYSE:DIS) and Sony (SNE -2.3%) are partnering to create a sports programming network in India with a comprehensive offering that could help "the worldwide leader in sports" with its subscription problem.
- Sony's Multi Screen Media already runs the Sony KIX sports channel there; it will rebrand as Sony ESPN and add a heavy digital presence (Web and mobile) to the TV programming.
- ESPN will add major college sports, boxing and the X Games to MSM's existing lineup featuring Indian Premier League cricket, European soccer, the NBA, NFL and rugby.
- The move suits strategy at both companies: Sony's efforts to move away from consumer electronics, and the chance for ESPN to boost subscriber growth as U.S. viewers cut the cord.
- Previously: Disney: Evercore sees upside; ESPN faces layoffs, budget cuts (Sep. 22 2015)
- 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)
Oct. 5, 2015, 6:56 PM
- Video streamer Hulu isn't planning any international expansion for now, despite taking a look at new markets, says CEO Mike Hopkins.
- That's a contrast from competitor Netflix, which has been shifting marketing dollars to global markets and targeting heavy international growth, with the U.S. making up two-third of subscribers. "For most global Internet firms, the U.S. is 20%-35% of usage and revenue; we're not anywhere close to that yet but we're continuing to invest in international," Reed Hastings said earlier this year.
- Hopkins also thinks the standard programming bundle will stick around "for years to come" and that over-the-top services are additive, not substitute goods, for now.
- Speaking at an industry conference in Cannes, France, Hopkins added that Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +2%), Disney (DIS +0.8%) and Fox (FOXA +1.1%) -- is still looking for its signature original hit: “We’re looking for that defining show,” he says, noting that Mad Men and South Park changed AMC and Comedy Central.
Sep. 29, 2015, 7:07 PM
- Streaming video service Hulu has made many changes to its model over the past year -- shifting heavily toward its paid service and aggressively moving into original programming -- though its recent move, to create an ad-free tier, raised eyebrows as observers compared its $11.99/month level directly with competitors like Netflix.
- The tier is off to a good start, though, says CEO Mike Hopkins, who suggests that it's winning over people who wouldn't have considered Hulu otherwise: "So far, so good."
- Speaking at an IAB ad conference, Hopkins says internal data showed a "big chunk" of potential users wouldn't join due to the ads, while another set points to the ads as a reason for cancellation.
- Users "like advertising if it’s the right advertising at the right time,” Hopkins said, acknowledging the ad-free tier isn't a big group of subscribers at the moment.
- Along with the ad-free level, Hulu began selling a "limited" commercial tier at $7.99/month.
- Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +0.6%), Disney (DIS +0.9%) and Fox (FOXA +2.4%) -- has as its ongoing goals personalizing the product further and adding more programming (TV and film) to draw and keep users.
- Previously: Hulu launches higher-priced ad-free subscription tier (Sep. 02 2015)
Sep. 29, 2015, 5:28 PM
- In musical TV news, Starz (STRZA -1.9%) has expanded its partnership with rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, executive producer of its biggest original hit, Power.
- A new two-year exclusive deal means that Jackson's G Unit Film & Television will produce new projects for the network along with keeping Jackson on to star in and produce Power.
- In other rap collaborations, ABC Family (DIS +1%) gives the go-ahead to a new series from Nicki Minaj, who like Jackson will executive produce and star in her show. It'll be based on immigration with her family from Trinidad.
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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