Mon, Apr. 6, 10:59 AM
- Furious 7 exceeded all expectations and smashed an April box-office record with a $143.6M weekend -- and big international receipts of $204.4M (from 10,500 screens in 63 territories) point to a massive winner for Universal (CMCSA +0.5%).
- Notably for a sequel -- where follow-ups usually do a fraction of the first film's business -- the newest entry got the biggest opening weekend of the seven-film series. And it has a relatively clear path to hundreds of millions more before May 1 brings the competition of a new Avengers.
- Home, the sole 2015 release from DreamWorks Animation (DWA +1.7%), held up well in its second weekend with $27.4M, for a two-week total of $95.6M.
- Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy Get Hard (NYSE:TWX) took third place with $12.9M ($57M total gross), while Cinderella (DIS; $10.3M; $167.3M total) and Insurgent (LGF; $10M; $103.4M total) were fourth and fifth.
- Previously: Box office sales and in-theater spending trending strong (Apr. 05 2015)
- Previously: Holiday movie weekend: Universal to get 'Furious' opening (Apr. 03 2015)
Fri, Apr. 3, 3:51 PM
- Fantasy sports is a big-money industry, and now Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is buying a piece with a $250M investment in DraftKings, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- The investment values DraftKings -- where fantasy sports fanatics play each other with real money stakes -- at about $900M, and it comes with a nice benefit: DraftKings has committed to spend more than $500M on ESPN-platform ads in the coming years.
- A rival company, FanDuel, has backing from Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) -- and while FanDuel can keep advertising on ESPN, it won't get the premium slots that DraftKings will.
- Compared with popular fantasy games already on ESPN, CBS and Yahoo, real-money businesses may tap into lucrative streams of revenue (rakes?) that aren't possible only on ad-supported platforms.
- Previously: Report: ESPN considers jump into daily fantasy business (Jan. 05 2015)
Fri, Apr. 3, 10:00 AM
- With a few small dramas and documentaries in competition, the way is clear for Universal's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) Furious 7 to dominate the box office, and early receipts suggest the film is well on track toward an April-record $115M weekend.
- The seventh entry in the Fast and the Furious racing franchise pulled a strong $16.9M in a limited 34-market run on Wednesday, including 12 international markets. It opened in 33 more markets Thursday and will run in 63 markets over the weekend.
- Other eyes will be on Home -- the high-stakes sole 2015 release for DreamWorks Animation (NASDAQ:DWA) -- to see if it can get legs from last week's strong $54M debut, and on whether Insurgent (NYSE:LGF) and Cinderella (NYSE:DIS) can stretch out gains from their female-heavy audience.
Thu, Apr. 2, 8:19 PM
- Madison Square Garden's (NASDAQ:MSG) plans to divide into two companies -- one holding the live sports and entertainment business, the other the media business -- might provide an instant $4B acquisition target for media-industry buyers like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) or Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA).
- Aside from the Garden itself and the company's sports franchises (including New York's Knicks, Rangers and Liberty), the company features two regional sports networks (MSG Network and MSG+) that occupy the country's top media market, and would be a complement to RSNs at Comcast or Fox.
- The MSG networks command a bit of a premium per subscriber over other RSNs ($3.49 for MSG and $2.98 for MSG+, vs. average $2.66). Fox already has a stake in the YES Network (Yankees); Comcast has a stake in SNY (Mets) and should be a bidder if its Time Warner Cable acquisition goes through.
- Previously: MSG spinning off sports/entertainment businesses (Mar. 27 2015)
Thu, Apr. 2, 4:26 PM
- Over-the-top video services seems to have accelerating momentum as more unbundling happens every week, but high-yield pay-TV companies have little to worry about just yet, Moody's says in a new report.
- Customer inertia along with the limited competition they now face should buy providers time to adjust.
- "Evolutionary, not revolutionary" is how the firm describes the pay-TV shift, saying that OTT providers, including Sony and Apple, will take a small number of subscribers for now -- even though consumer perception seems to favor OTT options.
- The firm notes rising bills could force defections, but "the average customer may not realize how much content traditional pay TV service provides, from video on demand and across multiple devices."
- Pay TV stocks today: (CMCSA +1.5%), (TWC +1.9%), (CVC +0.9%), (CHTR -0.6%), (T +0.7%), (VZ +1.1%)
Thu, Apr. 2, 11:29 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA +1.3%) isn't sitting (entirely) idle in the broadband speed race -- at least not in Atlanta.
- After Google amped up pressure on broadband speeds by launching its Fiber gigabit service project, and AT&T (NYSE:T) started followed up with more gigabit investment, Comcast is planning 2 Gbps symmetrical service in Atlanta, which would be the fastest residential service in the U.S.
- Still unknown, though, are the cost of the "Gigabit Pro" service -- the company charges $400/month for existing 505-Mbps service -- and any expansion plans outside Atlanta. Google Fiber is available in Kansas City; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah, at broadband cost of about $70/month.
- Both Google and AT&T have plans to expand their gigabit service to Atlanta.
- Comcast's service would be twice as fast as Google's and AT&T's, and four times as fast as Verizon FiOS Quantum, which comes in an $85 Internet/TV package.
Tue, Mar. 31, 3:17 PM
- Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) is up 6.2% and has touched a record-high $199 in the wake of its deal to acquire Bright House Networks, which would make it the country's No. 2 cable operator (Charter is now No. 4; Bright House is No. 6).
- The deal's dependent on Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) successful pursuit of Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) -- Charter's own bid for TWC fell apart, and Charter could step back in if Comcast's plan falters -- and if Comcast takes such a clear lead, Charter may not stop at Bright House in trying to catch up.
- Mediacom, CableOne and Suddenlink could be the next targets. "I think it is inevitable most of the rest of the cable industry not owned by Comcast is sold to Charter," Pivotal Research Group analyst Jeff Wlodarczak tells Reuters.
- As for John Malone, his Liberty Broadband (NASDAQ:LBRDA) -- Charter's biggest shareholder -- has agreed to purchase $700M of shares in the Charter/Bright House combo, in transactions that would leave it with voting power of about 25%.
- Charter bonds picked up on the news as well.
Tue, Mar. 31, 9:05 AM
- Charter Communications (CHTR, up 5.2% premarket) has reached agreement to acquire Bright House Networks for $10.4B.
- The outlines of a deal were there, but it's early -- it was expected that a ruling would come down on Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) merger with Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) before Charter made a move.
- The structure: a partnership where Charter owns 73.7% and Advance/Newhouse owns 26.3%. Charter will pay $2B in cash.
- There's still several conditions to wrapping the deal, including Charter transactions with Comcast.
Tue, Mar. 31, 7:53 AM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) says it will invest $4B in a new company being formed by its outgoing CFO.
- Michael Angelakis will serve as the CEO of the new entity tasked with finding areas of growth and diversification for Comcast.
- The new company will have a 10-year exclusive partnership with Comcast.
- A search for a new Comcast CFO will commence immediately.
Mon, Mar. 30, 6:44 PM
- After seeing some ratings success with a pair of live TV musical events, NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has set its 2015 entry: A take on 1975 musical The Wiz, which it will produce along with Cirque du Soleil.
- After the TV event -- set for Dec. 3 -- the production will make a Broadway revival for the 2016-2017 season. No cast has been connected to the project yet.
- The Wiz won out over other contenders to be produced, including The Music Man and A Few Good Men.
- The network's Carrie Underwood-anchored presentation of The Sound of Music logged 19M viewers in 2013, and its Peter Pan (with Allison Williams and Christopher Walken) marked more than 9M viewers this fall, but NBC may be eyeing different measures of success: Live events show some advertiser-friendly resistance to DVR time-shifting, persistently growing more common with broadcast series (and allowing for more ad-skipping).
- Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) is getting in on the trend: It's got a live TV production of Grease planned for Jan. 31.
Fri, Mar. 27, 1:34 PM
- TV Everywhere -- the business model providing authenticated premium TV streaming to multiple connected devices -- is now six years old, but after some strong 2014 growth may be poised to go mainstream, Adobe's 2014 digital-video study concludes.
- Usage per quarter last year of authenticated streams averaged 13% of pay-TV subscribers, double the same figure from 2013 and more than triple the 4% in Q1 of 2013.
- While HBO Go (NYSE:TWX) has proved popular, gains were helped by NBC's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) strong promotion of TV Everywhere for the Sochi Winter Olympics, among other big sporting events.
- The report looked at 2.1B authenticated video views for 2014 vs. 574M in 2013. It predicts that overall active viewership will reach 18% by year-end, even without major sports events this year, and that online viewing on mobile devices will pass desktop viewing by Q4 2016.
- Among Adobe's other predictions: The combined AT&T/DirecTV will offer a "skinny" OTT service to compete with Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX); big MVPDs will follow Comcast in making the experience better; and cable companies will follow NBC in making more back catalog content available on demand.
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, 11:36 AM
- NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and wrestling behemoth WWE (WWE +1.1%) are tightening their alliance when it comes to advertising and marketing, forming a new approach that will lead to unified campaigns across media platforms.
- WWE wrestling has run on NBCU's USA Network and Syfy for years, and while NBCU has handled TV ads, WWE has focused on digital and social marketing. Last year the two companies renewed their deal to keep the wrestling programs on NBC outlets in exchange for about $200M in licensing fees.
- The new strategic pact comes as advertisers begin to focus more on upfronts, where TV nets sell most of their ad inventory. A unified approach could help NBCU and WWE wield more power.
- Paramount has jumped into the new deal, agreeing to heavily cross-promote and advertise Terminator: Genisys with Wrestlemania and other events from spring through to the film's summer release.
Thu, Mar. 19, 9:54 AM
- Universal Studios Japan intends to build a new theme park in Okinawa, according to a top exec.
- Okinawa is trying to build Asian tourist traffic to the island.
- Universal Studios Japan currently operates four theme parks in Japan under a license from NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA).
Tue, Mar. 17, 5:22 PM
- Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) shareholders approved share issuance connected to divestiture deals with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and its plans to acquire Time Warner Cable.
- Stockholders signed off on issuing shares of "New Charter" as it acquires 33% of Midwest Cable ("Greatland Connections"), after that entity spins off to Comcast shareholders.
- The series of tax-efficient transactions is designed to reduce Comcast's post-merger subscriber total to less than 30% of national MVPD subscribers.
- Today: CMCSA -1%; CHTR -1.4%.
Tue, Mar. 17, 2:39 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) keeps up its sports-deal momentum by signing a tech and real estate pact with the Atlanta Braves (NASDAQ:LMCA) that will include wiring the team's new 60-acre stadium complex for networking, as well as a new office for Comcast.
- The project will provide video, voice and high-speed Internet through SunTrust Park, including a ballpark and surrounding buildings holding retail, food service, hotels and residences.
- As part of the muli-year deal, Comcast's name will be on a nine-story tower that will also house 1,000 of its employees.
- Comcast's business-services unit has signed similar deals in the past, most recently with the NFL's Tennessee Titans, as well as the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars; baseball's Oakland A's, Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers; and the NBA's Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks.
- SunTrust Park is scheduled to open in time for Opening Day in spring 2017.
- Previously: No plans to sell MLB's Braves, Liberty says (Feb. 25 2015)
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