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  • Wed, Nov. 16, 3:31 PM
    • With Donald Trump set to take over the White House, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to reform the pay TV set-top box market is "95% dead," according to one analyst.
    • Wheeler's proposal to kill off the boxes met with opposition from the industry even after it was modified to be much closer to pay TV providers' app-focused approach. The FCC said the market for the boxes sat at $20B a year and that the cost of renting them had gone up 185% since 1994, while other consumer electronics dropped 90% in price over that period.
    • "I would say it's 95 percent dead," said Bloomberg Intelligence's Matthew Schettenhelm. "It's a very long road to get this done.”
    • House Republicans have asked Wheeler to focus on the ongoing broadcast incentive spectrum auction, and not to move forward with “complex and controversial items that the new Congress and Administration will have an interest in reviewing."
    • That includes an open item on Business Data Services as well, not to mention lengthy reviews ahead for AT&T/Time Warner and Level 3/CenturyLink deals.
    • Public Knowledge's Chris Lewis says it's too early to hold a funeral: "We don't know what Trump thinks about set-top boxes."
    • Pay TV players: CMCSA, CHTR, CVC/OTCPK:OTCPK:ATCEY, T, DISH, VZ, FTR, CTL
    • Previously: FCC pulls set-top box vote from today's meeting agenda (Sep. 29 2016)
    | Wed, Nov. 16, 3:31 PM | 33 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 9, 12:50 PM
    • Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) is up 2.3% after giving up some early gains, following Q3 earnings featuring revenues that grew slightly and beat though profits missed expectations.
    • Net income grew substantially, rising 57% to $307M.
    • The company lost about 116,000 net pay TV subscribers, vs. a loss of about 23,000 a year ago. Gross adds were 736,000 vs. the prior year's 751,000. (Numbers now include Sling TV subscribers.)
    • That brings total pay TV subs to 13.643M. ARPU was $89.44, up from the prior year's $86.33; churn was up to 2.11% vs. previous 1.86%.
    • The company lost 20,000 net broadband subscribers, bringing that base to 593,000.
    • Press Release
    | Wed, Nov. 9, 12:50 PM
  • Wed, Nov. 9, 11:34 AM
    • While Time Warner is trading lower as investors digest a slimmer chance of a buyout by AT&T under a Trump administration, Sprint (NYSE:S) -- a company long thought to again become a merger prospect after a change in the White House -- is up 12.5% and hitting two-year highs today.
    • Its oft-discussed merger matchup partner, T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) is up 3.8%.
    • Meanwhile, changes are likely coming to the FCC, Wells Fargo argues: It will at least be more conservative, if not working under new leadership soon; expecting Chairman Tom Wheeler to stay a full term is "no longer realistic."
    • "If the rhetoric of those surrounding Trump’s campaign rings true, we can expect a Republican FCC to make a big push to roll back some of the regulations put in place under President Obama such as the Title II/Net Neutrality rules," writes analyst Jennifer Fritzsche. "There may also be a push to roll back some or all of what the FCC just did on privacy."
    • "It’s unclear whether Chairman Wheeler will be able to act on the open items related to Business Data Services or set top box reform before he departs and if he does not, some suggest a Republican FCC will reverse course on these two items. There is also a big question on how a Trump FCC will view transactions including the recently announced T/TWX merger and the LVLT/CTL transaction."
    • LVLT +0.4%; CTL +0.5%. TWX -1%. Names tied to net neutrality: T, VZ, CMCSA, CHTR, OTCPK:ATCEY, CTL, FTR, CCOI, DISH.
    | Wed, Nov. 9, 11:34 AM | 219 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 9, 6:07 AM
    • DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH): Q3 EPS of $0.64 misses by $0.04.
    • Revenue of $3.75B (+0.5% Y/Y) beats by $10M.
    • Press Release
    | Wed, Nov. 9, 6:07 AM
  • Tue, Nov. 8, 5:30 PM
  • Tue, Nov. 1, 12:20 PM
    • The battle for the live-TV streaming audience is heating up as Hulu signs deals with Fox (FOX -1.1%, FOXA -0.6%) and Disney (DIS -0.4%) to incorporate dozens of networks into its upcoming service.
    • Fox and Disney are part of the co-ownership group at Hulu, of course, along with NBCUniversal (CMCSA -0.6%) and Time Warner (TWX -0.7%). The new deals mean that Hulu's service will include Disney's nets (particularly including ESPN live and on demand, as well as others in the Disney/ABC group) and Fox's entertainment, news, sports and nonfiction services.
    • While early streaming-TV efforts (from Sling TV (DISH -1%) and Sony (SNE -2.2%)) looked more like "skinny bundling," lately the bundles are looking fatter. Hulu's adding dozens of networks, and AT&T's (T -0.7%) DirecTV Now (launching this month) is promising more than 100 channels for $35/month.
    | Tue, Nov. 1, 12:20 PM | 16 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 26, 3:20 PM
    • With AT&T beginning a long journey to acquire Time Warner, is T-Mobile (TMUS +0.7%) the next big acquisition target in the media/telecom space? Analysts are talking up the carrier's prospects after it logged another successful quarter.
    • For its part, T-Mobile has been and still is "very interested" in strategic options, COO Mike Sievert says.
    • "The takeout target over the next 12 months has got to be T-Mobile," says New Street Research's Spencer Kurn, noting potential suitors in Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) -- which is exercising a clause with Verizon to launch MVNO service -- as well as Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and America Movil (NYSE:AMX).
    • Dish has a lot of spectrum but no wireless business -- and it's lost a potential buyer in AT&T, which now has its hands full with Time Warner, notes BTIG's Walt Piecyk.
    • Rival Sprint (S -1.8%) could be a takeover target as well, as CEO Marcelo Claure noted "we've had a lot of bankers placing more calls than usual over the weekend" in yesterday's earnings call.
    | Wed, Oct. 26, 3:20 PM | 175 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 25, 5:03 PM
    • AT&T (T -0.4%) has revealed its "aggressive" price plan for new streaming service DirecTV Now: $35/month.
    • Since AT&T is zero-rating data for its customers, that's the total price for the company's subscribers. Other customers will need to consider data needs if they're video-hungry.
    • That gets users 100-plus premium channels for less than the typical cable bundle, and less than PlayStation Vue (SNE -0.9%), but in the ballpark of Sling TV (DISH +0.3%).
    • CEO Randall Stephenson says the company aims to keep the price down through new advertising models.
    • AT&T/Time Warner deal coverage
    | Tue, Oct. 25, 5:03 PM | 25 Comments
  • Fri, Oct. 21, 10:38 AM
    • Dish Network (DISH -0.8%) has become the only national pay TV provider to offer up YouTube via a set-top box, as it adds an app on its Hopper 3 DVR.
    • It follows other apps that customers can use without switching inputs or boxes, including Netflix, Pandora, Vevo and The Weather Channel.
    • Customers will be able to log on to their YouTube accounts (as well as their paid YouTube Red accounts) through the app.
    • “By aggregating apps like YouTube and Netflix with live linear television, Hopper 3 is capable of serving as a household’s comprehensive entertainment hub," says Dish's Niraj Desai.
    | Fri, Oct. 21, 10:38 AM | 2 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 19, 2:51 PM
    • A new TV service from Google (GOOG +0.8%, GOOGL +0.6%) is likely to come in early 2017 after the company reached a carriage deal with CBS (CBS +0.7%) and is near distribution deals with Disney (DIS +0.6%) and Fox (FOX +0.8%, FOXA +0.4%) as well, The Wall Street Journal reports.
    • Reportedly called "Unplugged," the service would target cost-conscious viewers with a "skinny" bundle of live channels at $25-$40 per month, sources told the paper.
    • While it would be housed on Google's YouTube infrastructure, it would be separate from the existing ad-free YouTube Red subscription offering, though a curated part of Red would be part of the Unplugged bundle.
    • The bold move (with deals coming more rapidly than Apple's progress into TV) comes ahead of a planned live service from Hulu (CMCSA +0.2%, DIS, FOX, FOXA, TWX -0.1%) as well as AT&T's (T +0.2%) DirecTV Now offering arriving later this year (likely at $50/month or more), and enters a skinny space that already holds Sling TV (DISH +1.4%).
    • Updated 3:48 p.m.: Viacom (VIA +0.3%, VIAB +0.8%), home of MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET, is also in advanced talks to join the service.
    • Wall Street Journal report
    | Wed, Oct. 19, 2:51 PM | 35 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 3, 12:45 PM
    • Ahead of the launch of a live TV service, Hulu has cut the price of its ad-supported programming tier to $5.99/month from $7.99/month.
    • That's a new-subscriber promotion that's good for one year, which could help Hulu (CMCSA, DIS, FOX, FOXA, TWX) fight for new subscribers with Amazon.com and Netflix, which still have their entry-level tiers at $7.99.
    • Hulu's ad-free tier remains at $11.99/month, and while its live TV offering doesn't have a price or launch date yet, it's expected to come around $35/month, slightly more than core offerings from Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH) or PlayStation Vue (NYSE:SNE).
    • AT&T (NYSE:T) says its DirecTV Now streaming service will be "aggressively" priced and that the company would zero-rate data for its wireless subscribers.
    | Mon, Oct. 3, 12:45 PM | 8 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 29, 10:37 AM
    • FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal for new rules governing pay TV set-top boxes -- set for a vote today, but facing opposition from the industry and even a swing-vote Democrat on the panel -- has been pulled from today's meeting (now getting under way), but will stay in circulation.
    • Wheeler had changed a previous proposal and appeared to move closer to pay-TV industry wishes for an app-based approach, but still faced pushback from service providers and resistance from Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who along with Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly could form the three votes to sink the proposal.
    • Pay TV players: CMCSA, CHTR, CVC/OTCPK:OTCPK:ATCEY, T, DISH, VZ, FTR, CTL
    | Thu, Sep. 29, 10:37 AM | 11 Comments
  • Wed, Sep. 21, 11:20 AM
    | Wed, Sep. 21, 11:20 AM | 45 Comments
  • Mon, Sep. 19, 7:50 PM
    • The Department for Professional Employees -- a coalition of technical-worker unions affiliated with AFL-CIO -- has joined other unions in sounding off against the FCC's revised set-top box rules proposal.
    • The group criticized the "de facto" compulsory licensing scheme set up by the agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, in order to prevent anticompetitive agreements among pay-TV providers.
    • That regime is "unacceptable and unworkable," the DPE says.
    • "The FCC does not have this authority," says Paul Almeida, the DPE's president, in a statement. "The one-sided proposal undermines the value of creative works, shrinks revenue streams that middle-class creators depend on to make a living and threatens the hard-fought wages and benefits of creative industry workers."
    • Pay TV players: CMCSA, CHTR, CVC/OTCPK:OTCPK:ATCEY, T, DISH, VZ, FTR, CTL
    • Previously: FCC Chairman: Open to changes to get set-top box rules passed (Sep. 15 2016)
    | Mon, Sep. 19, 7:50 PM | 24 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 15, 2:20 PM
    • Speaking to the Senate, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says he may yet change his proposal of rules to open the market for pay TV set-top boxes, set for a final vote by the commission on Sept. 29.
    • Wheeler's proposal, which focuses heavily on requiring apps from providers so that consumers can watch without costly rental boxes, had been modified already from a plan offered in January.
    • The FCC has said the set-top box market is at $20B a year, and consumers pay an average annual cost of $231 (aside from programming and service costs) for the boxes -- up 185% since 1994 while other consumer electronics have dropped 90% in price over that period.
    • Any new revisions may be targeted at the swing vote on the five-member FCC, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who has expressed concerns about the licensing body created by the new rules to prevent anticompetitive agreements between providers.
    • Pay TV players: CMCSA, CHTR, CVC/OTCPK:OTCPK:ATCEY, T, DISH, VZ, FTR, CTL
    | Thu, Sep. 15, 2:20 PM | 12 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 8, 8:42 PM
    • A new FCC draft order circulating to regulate pay TV's approach to set-top devices has left questions over just how comprehensive the changes would be.
    • Chairman Tom Wheeler's fact sheet about the rules laid out how providers would need to create apps enabling consumers to see all the content they paid for on their own devices, without paying expensive rental fees for a box. (The FCC estimates Americans spend $20B on box leasing fees that have jumped 185% since 1994, a period during which other consumer electronics have fallen 90% in price.)
    • Top pay TV providers (those serving about 95% of the subscriber population) will need to comply with the new rules within two years if they're adopted in a Sept. 29 vote.
    • As for platforms, Wheeler's fact sheet singled out Roku, iOS/Android and Windows, but any operating system with U.S. shipments of at least 5M devices qualifies to have an app written for it by providers.
    • Devices would also meet the requirement if they're already built on a qualifying platform (such as on Android).
    • Alternately, smaller device providers could strike their own deals with providers (such as with Comcast's Xfinity TV Partner Program) to get access to the apps.
    • Pay TV players: CMCSA, CHTR, CVC/OTCPK:OTCPK:ATCEY, T, DISH, VZ, FTR, CTL
    | Thu, Sep. 8, 8:42 PM | 17 Comments