Today, 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.
Today, 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."
Today, 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, 3:13 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has named Myrna Soto its Global Chief Information Security Officer, a new role at the company.
- Soto will be responsible for cyber and data security strategy/policy across all Comcast enterprises, including NBCUniversal and Comcast Spectacor.
- She comes out of the Comcast Cable organization and has been with the company since 2009. She has more than 25 years of information security/technology leadership experience across a variety of industries.
Mon, Aug. 31, 2:58 PM
- Straight Outta Compton (CMCSA -0.5%) became the first film to top the box office three weeks in a row since Jurassic World pulled that off in late June, and it overcame a surprising challenger along the way: low-budget Christian film War Room (SNE +0.5%).
- Compton grossed $13.2M, just higher than War Room's $11M on just 1,135 screens (a healthy $9,692/screen average). The N.W.A biopic has drawn a cumulative $134.1M in its three weeks on top.
- Mission: Impossible--Rogue Nation (VIA -0.1%, VIAB +0.7%) drew $8.3M to finish third, and Owen Wilson thriller No Escape $8.29M for fourth.
- Aside from War Room and No Escape, the other key debut -- We Are Your Friends with Zac Efron (TWX -0.9%) -- tanked with just $1.8M from 2,333 screens.
- Overall, total box office was down more than 20% Y/Y -- but against a difficult comp, with an earlier Labor Day holiday in 2014.
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, 4:11 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA +2.9%) is taking proposals for two substantially Hispanic American-owned networks that it plans to launch by Jan. 28, 2017 -- part of a commitment it agreed to as part of its NBCUniversal purchase in 2011.
- The company promised to launch 10 independent networks by 2019 as part of public-interest commitments it made for the NBCU deal. Of the 10, two were to be operated by Hispanic American programmers and two to be substantially Hispanic American-owned.
- Since the NBCU deal was completed, five independent networks have rolled out, including Revolt TV (with music figure Sean Combs), El Rey (partnered with director Robert Rodriguez and Univision) and Aspire (with Magic Johnson).
- Proposals are due Oct. 9 and the two new networks will be selected in following months.
Tue, Aug. 25, 2:25 PM
- Home-focused Web community Houzz is making its first acquisition in GardenWeb, which it's buying from NBCUniversal (CMCSA +1.5%).
- Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but GardenWeb originally came to NBCU in 2006, as part of a $600M deal for iVillage when NBCU was still part of GE.
- Houzz, which has raised more than $200M in funding and was last valued at $2.3B last year, will get millions of discussion threads (with more than 14M discussion posts) in the deal while expanding outside home design to garden design. It's launched its first TV ads this month.
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, 3:24 PM
- With the help of its reanimated dinosaurs and furiously fast cars (and a couple of other top-five performers), Universal Pictures (CMCSA -4.6%) has set the international box-office record, with $3.78B and counting.
- That passes Fox's 2014 record of $3.73B, with just over four months left in the year. The studio has had four top openings internationally, and its 10 weeks at the top overseas lead all studios.
- It's got four of 2015's top five international draws: No. 1 Furious 7 ($1.162M); No. 2 Jurassic World ($983.5M); No. 4 Minions ($670.2M) and No. 5 Fifty Shades of Grey ($404.1M).
- Minions was still in the international top 10 this weekend with $12.5M. Furious 7 is the fifth-highest-grossing worldwide film ever.
- Previously: 'Compton' still good for top spot with box office -7% Y/Y (Aug. 24 2015)
- Previously: Disney, Comcast enjoying summer of (box-office) love (Aug. 20 2015)
- Previously: 2015 box office: Universal 138% ahead of 2014 pace with $1.38B home grosses (Jul. 04 2015)
Mon, Aug. 24, 1:32 PM
- With summer winding down, box office this weekend was down about 7% Y/Y with a lackluster set of new releases. But Universal's N.W.A picture Straight Outta Compton (NASDAQ:CMCSA) scored again, grossing $26.8M to bring its two-week total to $111.5M despite increasing press mentions charging the film with whitewashing the group's treatment of women.
- Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation (VIA, VIAB) took second place with $11.7M, bringing its four-week total to $157.8M. The new entries followed: Sinister 2 (CMCSA) in third with $10.6M; videogame convert Hitman: Agent 47 (FOX, FOXA) in fourth with $8.2M, and American Ultra (NYSE:LGF) sixth with $5.5M.
- In international markets, Terminator: Genisys (VIA, VIAB) is putting on a rebound, taking the top spot due to a big bow in China. The film has drawn just $89M domestically, but its worldwide total is $353M thanks to foreign markets. It was the fourth-best opening ever for a U.S. film in China.
- Stock movements among film producers have a heavy effect from today's market melt: CMCSA -1.5%; VIA +0.6%; VIAB -0.9%; FOX -2.2%; FOXA -1.9%; LGF -2.3%.
Thu, Aug. 20, 7:29 PM
- At least one end result of media consolidation will be all of the big four wireless firms linking up (via merger or alliances) with pay TV, says Oppenheimer's Tim Horan, with a prediction for the four survivors: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint -- and Comcast.
- "Regardless of the timing, we expect all four wireless carriers to align with a paid TV provider in some form," Horan says. He writes that Oppenheimer sees Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) aligning somehow, though Comcast denied interest in outright acquiring the carrier in June.
- Comcast's hand might be forced by AT&T's (NYSE:T) plans for product bundling now that it's closed on DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV). Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) -- currently busy trying to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) -- could deal for wireless as well, as it expands its public Wi-Fi.
- Horan also thinks that Verizon (NYSE:VZ) might be the only real buyer for Dish Network's (NASDAQ:DISH) spectrum haul, which might come on the block after the FCC denied Dish $3.3B in spectrum-auction discounts. Oppenheimer sees only a 10% chance that Dish buys T-Mobile.
- SoftBank had explored a sale of Sprint (NYSE:S) to TV providers including Comcast and Altice, unsuccessfully, and a potential merger with T-Mobile is considered at least as far off as the 2016 presidential election.
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)
Thu, Aug. 20, 3:39 PM
- The Weather Channel is hoping some buyer can make it rain, as it's reportedly hired J.P. Morgan and PJT Partners to seek a sale for up to $3B.
- The network -- owned in part by NBCUniversal (CMCSA -2.2%) along with Bain Capital and Blackstone (NYSE:BX) -- could sell as a whole or in parts. The digital pieces (websites, Weather Underground and several B2B sites) might be the most valuable.
- The 2008 deal to purchase the company was valued at $3.5B. It reportedly began interviewing banks last year.
- In its second-quarter earnings, Comcast said its net income included $252M of equity in net losses of investees resulting from its proportionate share of an impairment loss at The Weather Channel.
- Previously: Dish signs multi-year deal with Weather Channel, including Sling TV (Apr. 21 2015)
- Previously: Carriage dispute drops Weather Channel from Verizon FiOS (Mar. 10 2015)
- Previously: Weather Channel reportedly mulling strategic options (Sep. 12 2014)
Wed, Aug. 19, 7:09 PM
- DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- now part of AT&T (NYSE:T) -- has moved the bar slightly for Ultra HD TV viewing, though there are still several hurdles involved with getting and viewing the best picture available.
- Last year, DirecTV was the first to roll out 4K video service, but on a limited basis -- customers had to have a specific Samsung 4K TV and one of DirecTV's Genie HD DVRs, and had a library of on-demand titles to choose from.
- DirecTV is rolling out a new 4K Genie Mini set-top, which frees up the Samsung TV requirement. But viewers will still need the new set-top, the Genie HD DVR and some manufacturer's 4K-compliant television.
- That leaves a relative lack of content. Providers have been slow to commit, though Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) also offers 4K service (also an on-demand library) and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) plans to introduce an offering this summer. In the UK, BT Group (NYSE:BT) has launched an Ultra HD channel with live sports broadcasts just this month.
- Press release
Tue, Aug. 18, 8:07 PM
- Despite no publicity-generating GOP debate this time, Fox News (FOX, FOXA) finished last week as the most-watched primetime cable net for the second week in a row.
- Nielsen says Fox News averaged 1.8M viewers to top the Disney Channel's (NYSE:DIS) 1.7M average and TNT's (NYSE:TWX) 1.6M viewers. TNT had the top two shows with its consistently strong-performing Major Crimes (4.4M viewers) and Rizzoli & Isles (4.3M).
- On a 24-hour basis, it was children's programming that won again: Disney Channel and Nickelodeon (VIA, VIAB) tied for the lead with 1.3M viewers.
- In the adults 18-49 demographic: TBS won primetime, and USA Network (NASDAQ:CMCSA) prevailed on a 24-hour basis.
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