Fri, Apr. 17, 4:22 PM
- Just in time for critical upfronts, advertising spending on TV rose in the first quarter, Standard Media Index reports, offering some optimism for networks in a challenging season.
- Excluding last year's Winter Olympics impact, spending was up 7% for broadcast networks, and up 4% for cable networks.
- For broadcast, January and February showed nominal declines because of comparison with the year-ago Olympics, and revenues were flat in March. Meanwhile, TV ratings were down 11% in Q1.
- The news is good but tempered by the expectation that this year's upfronts (all-at-once negotiations over the upcoming TV season) will show ad commitments falling 10% for broadcast and 5% for cable.
- Key network owners: AMCX, DIS, CBS, FOX, CMCSA
Thu, Apr. 16, 1:31 PM
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is turning to college sports for its mobile-first streaming video service, inking deals with a number of partners to fill out an offering that should have 20-30 channels later this year.
- The company has deals with ACC Digital Network, Campus Insiders, CBS Sports, ESPN and 120 Sports to join its deal for 200 hours with Awesomeness TV (NASDAQ:DWA).
- What does Verizon get? "Dozens of live major college games" from CBS and "select live college football and college games" as well as original-entertainment shows like 30 for 30 from ESPN (NYSE:DIS).
- Pricing and packaging for the service are still unresolved, but Verizon does plan to offer it only via its mobile data plans at first.
Tue, Apr. 14, 4:06 PM
- At the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas, CBS affiliates were carefully poring through the network's revenue proposal for streaming service CBS All Access.
- While CBS says it's reaching 55% of households after a deal with a dozen affiliate groups, implementation may be a thorny go.
- "It’s a lot to comprehend," says the affiliates board chairman, Michael Fiorile, after a closed-door session. Affiliates have to invest in the Syncbak platform that runs the service, and then start earning $0.59/subscriber of the $5.99 monthly cost -- a cut that ramps up with a bigger subscriber base.
- Affiliates have calculators out to sort out whether it's ultimately a money-maker for them, but the tone of the meeting was described as largely positive.
Mon, Apr. 13, 3:23 PM
- Andre J. Fernandez has been named president of CBS Radio, replacing 17-year CBS veteran Dan Mason.
- Fernandez comes from Journal Communications, where he was president and COO, and previously served in financial leadership at General Electric.
- He'll oversee a 117-station group that's key to CBS strategy as it builds out local groups to complement its national media. Fernandez will start next week, reporting to CEO Les Moonves.
Fri, Apr. 10, 7:47 PM
- Executive pay reports keep rolling out, and while 2014 was anything but stellar for media companies, most Hollywood CEOs made more (a lot more in some cases) -- with Sumner Redstone a notable exception.
- Viacom (VIA, VIAB) founder Redstone -- who skipped Viacom's earnings call and is reportedly ailing -- earned $13.2M in total comp, down from $36.2M the prior year. CEO Philippe Dauman took in $44.3M in 2014. For CBS, Redstone's comp fell 81% to $10.8M.
- The eye-opening number among eye-openers came for Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) chief David Zaslav, who drew a staggering $156M in total comp (up 368%) -- mostly from $94M in new stocks and options. His base was $3M. Tying his salary to the company's results is very much intentional.
- Lions Gate's (NYSE:LGF) Jon Feltheimer led gainers with a 400% increase to $63.6M, paced again by stock options.
- Other notables: Rupert Murdoch (NWS, FOX) drew $37.9M in total comp, up 31%, while Fox president Chase Carey got $28M (up 4%); Bob Iger (NYSE:DIS) pulled $46.5M, up 35.6%; Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) CEO Brian Roberts drew $33M (up 5.1%) and NBCUniversal President Steve Burke got $33.9M (up 9%).
Thu, Apr. 9, 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).
Thu, Apr. 9, 12:19 PM
- A new set of carriage agreements with affiliates means that the CBS streaming service CBS All Access will reach 55% of U.S. households.
- CBS announced deals with a number of local station groups, including Gray (NYSE:GTN), Meredith (NYSE:MDP), Nexstar (NASDAQ:NXST), Raycom, Graham Media and others, and the broadcaster says more deals are on the way.
- Markets added include Atlanta, Phoenix, St. Louis, Kansas City and Las Vegas.
- Last month CEO Les Moonves said the $5.99/month service had 100K subscribers, largely on the back of the company's owned-and-operated stations in major markets.
- Previously: CBS affiliates reportedly can earn $1/subscriber on streaming (Mar. 16 2015)
- Previously: CBS, affiliates agree on terms around streaming service (Mar. 13 2015)
Tue, Apr. 7, 11:19 AM
- No Kentucky? No problem for CBS (CBS +0.7%). Though the Wildcats didn't get to pursue a bid for perfection in the NCAA basketball championship, Duke University's win over Wisconsin drew the best title-game ratings in 18 years.
- The broadcast earned a 17.1 rating and 27 share -- up 33% over last year's title game between Connecticut and Kentucky.
- In the Web broadcast area, "NCAA March Madness Live" set a record with 3.4M live streams (up 66%) during the title game, and nearly 1M hours of live video consumed (up 69%). For the tournament, the Webcast generated 80.7M live streams (up 17%) and 17.8M hours of live video (up 19%) consumed.
- As expected, the three-week NCAA tournament overall logged its best overnight ratings in 22 years -- music to the ears of CBS and Turner Broadcasting (TWX +0.7%), as ads sold at a 10% higher clip than last year's tourney, which drew $1.13B in ad revenues.
Mon, Apr. 6, 8:01 PM
- NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) marked its best shot at a solid drama debut this season as A.D. The Bible Continues logged Easter Sunday's top broadcast ratings, with a 2.3 in the 18-49 demographic, and 9.5 total viewers from 9-10 p.m.
- The follow-up to The Bible didn't match the 2013 original, which pulled a 3.3 rating in the demographic and 13.1M viewers on the smaller History network, but it marked a success for NBC on what has become a tough night for the Peacock. High-profile American Odyssey failed to hold the A.D. viewers, pulling a 1.2 in demo and 5.4M viewers.
- CBS also slumped with original programs as 60 Minutes and Madam Secretary declined sharply from the prior week -- but the Eye has tonight's NCAA basketball championship to look forward to. Turner Broadcasting (NYSE:TWX) drew 22.6M viewers (up 39% Y/Y) to the Kentucky-Wisconsin semifinal on Saturday, and 15.3M (up 31% Y/Y) in the earlier Duke-Michigan State matchup.
- NCAA Tournament ratings overall are showing up as the best in 23 years.
Mon, Mar. 30, 3:48 PM
- With the Final Four coming up Easter weekend, a crowd-pleasing NCAA basketball tournament continues to provide strong results for CBS and Turner Broadcasting (NYSE:TWX), with average ratings at a 25-year high.
- Sunday's Elite Eight pair of games brought CBS and 8.6 rating and 18 share, up 10% from last year. Between CBS and the Turner nets it shares the tournament with, the weekend average of 8.0 rating and 16 share was up 23% vs. the prior year.
- TBS has a highly anticipated semifinal pairing coming this Saturday, and CBS will broadcast the NCAA championship game on Monday.
- Along with increased ratings, ad sales for these games were also up about 10%. Last year's tournament drew $1.13B in ad revenues.
- Previously: March Madness equals billions in ad-ness for CBS, Turner (Mar. 17 2015)
Tue, Mar. 24, 3:54 PM
- Buyback-happy U.S. firms are prohibited from repurchasing shares from about five weeks prior to releasing quarterly earnings to about 48 hours after those reports. These blackout periods, says Goldman, may offer an especially tasty time for investors to pick up shares of their favorites.
- "High valuations in the absence of corporate demand may weigh on stock prices," says Goldman's Amanda Sneider, and particular areas of focus are tech, consumer discretionary, and financials - they've accounted for more than 50% of buyback activity.
- Goldman's buyback blackout theme buys: SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Travelers (NYSE:TRV), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR), Xerox (NYSE:XRX), Torchmark (NYSE:TMK), F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV), Citrix Systems (NASDAQ:CTXS), Aon (NYSE:AON), Moody's (NYSE:MCO), VeriSign (NASDAQ:VRSN), Hartford Financial (NYSE:HIG), Ameriprise (NYSE:AMP), Corning (NYSE:GLW), Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX), Viacom (NASDAQ:VIAB), Legg Mason (NYSE:LM), XL Group (NYSE:XL), DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV), Allstate (NYSE:ALL), Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA), CBS (NYSE:CBS), Macy's (NYSE:M), Kohl's (NYSE:KSS).
Tue, Mar. 24, 4:31 AM
- Opening up a new door for the sports-media industry, the NFL has announced it would test placing one football game this season on a national digital platform and not on national television, as a trial effort to understand the market for digital rights.
- In another sweeping change, the league has decided to scrap its controversial blackout rule, which prohibits local broadcasts of games if they aren't sold out 72 hours before kickoff, for the 2015 season.
- Related tickers: CBS, FOXA, CMCSA, DIS, DTV
Mon, Mar. 23, 6:07 PM
- CBS has extended the contract of CBS News President David Rhodes through February 2019.
- Rhodes has held the position since 2011, and was instrumental in creating CBS This Morning, which has recently been the only network morning news show to gain ratings Y/Y among the 25-54 demographic.
- CBS' evening news program typically holds down the No. 3 spot among the big three broadcasters, but it's recently seeing the most Y/Y growth.
Fri, Mar. 20, 5:56 PM
- CBS is the top stock to own in media, Citigroup analysts say, believing that Wall Street is ignoring upside opportunities for the company.
- Consensus forecasts call for EPS growth to fall by half, from ~20% in 2015 and 2016 to just 10% in 2017and 2018, but Citi instead sees at least five growth levers: Showtime OTT, CBS All Access, re-transmission revenues above company guidance, TV Everywhere streaming rights, and new OTT video entrants such as Sony and Apple.
- As a result, Citi raises its target price on CBS to $72 from $60, or 15x its 2016 EPS estimate of $4.52 plus a bit more for M&A possibilities.
Fri, Mar. 20, 3:01 AM
- Tapping into a gray area of the net neutrality debate, HBO (NYSE:TWX), Showtime (NYSE:CBS) and Sony (NYSE:SNE) are in talks with broadband providers about having their Web TV services treated as "managed services," giving them a separate lane that would ensure their content gets special treatment.
- While net neutrality states that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equal, the FCC maintains that cable and phone companies can offer "managed services" — digital phone and video-on-demand, for example - that run on a dedicated slice of bandwidth in the cable pipe which is separate from the portion reserved for public Internet access.
Tue, Mar. 17, 4:54 PM
- The future of CBS might well include some kind of tie-up as the era of Chairman Sumner Redstone starts to draw to a close -- and last year, CEO Les Moonves talked with Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) chief Jeff Bewkes about making a merger, Bloomberg reports.
- Bewkes wasn't interested, though, and so speculation continues. Redstone's health has been the subject of increasing conversation -- he will be 92 in May, and missed his usual speaking part on Viacom's January earnings call -- as has succession planning for his empire.
- The trustees that will take over Redstone's interests upon his death include Viacom (VIA, VIAB) CEO Philippe Dauman and Redstone's daughter Shari, but not Moonves.
- Moonves has talked down merger chatter before ("very happy being alone"), though that may be about boosting price -- Moonves says CBS will be a $100 stock in four years, while BofA's Jessica Reif Cohen says TWX could offer $80/share.
- Moonves has said he doesn't think a Viacom reunion fits either, and he reportedly gathered partners earlier this year with an eye to taking the network private.
- Previously: March Madness equals billions in ad-ness for CBS, Turner (Mar. 17 2015)
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