Jul. 31, 2014, 8:58 AM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and AT&T (NYSE:T) kept a close eye on their acquisition prizes today as they both showed gains during Q2 for one of the most watched metrics in the pay-TV sector.
- Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) grew its average revenue per user by 1.7% to $106.98 and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) saw a 4.5% gain to $103.26 in the U.S.
- Merger synergies for the mega-deals are based on ever-rising ARPUs while scale brings down content and acquisition costs.
- Today's read from the pay-TV sector is that the U.S. consumer hasn't quite hit the breaking point yet on monthly bill charges.
- Regulatory watch: The FCC has started its merger review countdown clock by taking comments from consumer groups. Though Comcast maintains in government filings that acquiring TWC will help consumers, the focus on rising monthly pay-TV bills could take the steam out of that argument.
Jul. 29, 2014, 2:08 PM
- Time Warner Cable (TWC +1.4%) says it will agree to binding arbitration to settle its dispute with DirecTV (DTV +0.8%) over a carriage fee deal for the SportsNet LA network which includes coverage of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball.
- DirecTV hasn't indicated yet it will agree to enter arbitration as it continues to push for an a la carte option for its customers. Meanwhile, close to 70% of the Los Angeles TV/broadband market can't access Dodgers baseball.
- The TWC-DTV spat is being closely watched by the pay-TV industry (T, CHTR, CVC, DISH, VZ) and sports network owners (DIS, FOXA, TWX, CMCSA, CBS) as the issue of bundling regional sports networks into packages remains a hot topic.
Jul. 29, 2014, 11:44 AM
- Cable stocks seem to be getting a lift from the Windstream REIT announcement.
- The sector has been identified previously by analysts as ripe territory for REIT spinoffs.
- REIT-dreaming: Cablevision (CVC +4%), Charter Communications (CHTR +1.9%), Time Warner Cable (TWC +1.9%), and Comcast (CMCSA +1.4%).
Jul. 28, 2014, 1:15 PM
- Time Warner Cable (TWC) CEO Rob Marcus told employees last week in an internal memo that a busy FCC may be slow in reviewing the company's plan to merge with Comcast (CMCSA).
- Despite the 40 meetings between management with TWC and Comcast aimed at getting a deal closed in the calendar year, the slow pace of the FCC could push the closing into 2015, says Marcus.
- What to watch: The recent wave of media merger activity could prompt regulators to proceed cautiously with the TWC-Comcast combination lined up as the first domino to fall. AT&T, DirectTV, 21st Century Fox, Disney, Charter, and a host of other companies will be anxiously awaiting the decision of regulators.
- Related: The media merger guessing game
Jul. 24, 2014, 2:46 PM
Jul. 22, 2014, 10:07 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA +1.6%) lost 144K video subs in Q2, lowering its total base to 22.5M. Broadband subs grew by 203K to 21.3M, and voice subs by 137K to 11M.
- Total "customer relationships" were flat Q/Q at 26.8M. Triple product customers make up 36% of the base vs. 34% a year ago.
- Cable division data: Video revenue +1.2% Y/Y to $5.2B, broadband +9.7% to $2.8B, voice +1.3% to $922M, business services +22.4% to $965M, ads +7.5% to $599M, "other" +3.9% to $485M. Op. cash flow margin was steady at 41.4%.
- NBCUniversal revenue +0.3% to $6B, but op. cash flow rose 20.4% to $1.4B. Segment data: Cable networks +2.6% to $2.5B, broadcast TV +4.9% to $1.8B, filmed entertainment -15.3% to $1.2B, theme parks +12.8% to $615M.
- Comcast spent $750M on buybacks. Its total free cash flow fell 40.7% Y/Y to $1.16B, due largely to higher working capital needs (film/TV production spend) and a 19.4% increase in capex to $1.8B.
- Q2 results, PR
Jul. 22, 2014, 7:04 AM
Jul. 21, 2014, 5:30 PM
Jul. 18, 2014, 1:33 PM
- General Motors and Procter & Gamble have reduced their level of ad commitments compared to a year ago, according to estimates from the WSJ.
- The shift of more ad dollars away from TV to digital channels could bite 2H revenue for major networks (DIS, CMCSA, CBS, FOXA, TWX, AMCX, VIA).
- The overall cable upfront market is now expected to show a Y/Y decline of as much as 5% after early estimates were for a 4% gain.
Jul. 18, 2014, 11:36 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA +0.5%) announces it signed a deal with the new SEC Network (NYSE:DIS).
- The company will also offer up access to authenticated pay TV customers on its Xfinity service and through the WatchESPN app.
- The big picture: Though financial terms weren't disclosed, the apparent ease with which the new sports network is adding carriage fee deals is a testament to the leverage Disney has with its ESPN juggernaut. Trying to chip away at ESPN's sports rights dominance is at least a small part of the rationale behind 21st Century Fox and Time Warner joining forces.
Jul. 16, 2014, 8:13 AM
- 21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) will pay as much as $85 per share for Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), according to Bloomberg.
- The frothy premium hasn't gone unnoticed in the broadcaster sector with CBS (NYSE:CBS) up 1.6% premarket and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) rising 1.8%. Murdoch's 21st Century Fox is 1.7% higher, while even media giants Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) are catching a piece of the frenzy, up 0.7% and 0.9% premarket, respectively.
- TWX is in dreamland, up +20.2% to $85.32.
- It's setting up to be a banner day for the PowerShares Dynamic Media ETF (NYSEARCA:PBS).
Jul. 14, 2014, 11:36 AM| Comment!
Jul. 14, 2014, 10:42 AM
- Fresh research from Annalect indicates more than a third of binge-viewing TV watchers would agree to watch some ads if it meant they could score lower subscription rates.
- In an interesting twist, binge viewers end up discussing with friends and family the ads they do see at a higher rate than normal viewers.
- What to watch: Streaming services such as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Hulu, and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are still trying to define how advertising can be part of their model, with dynamic ads tapped to be an effective way to increase relevancy and conversion rates. On the content side, major networks (CBS, DIS, CMCSA, FOXA) want to move to a C7 system (7-day window) of counting ads from C3 in order to capture VOD, streaming, and DVR viewers.
Jul. 14, 2014, 8:54 AM
- Execs with NBC Entertainment (NASDAQ:CMCSA) say the network took in $300M more than last year in upfront ad dollars on the back of strong prime time ratings for key shows.
- NBC also extended its lead for the late-night talk show time slot.
- What to watch: A plan by CBS (NYSE:CBS) to dominate Thursday nights with its NFL football package in the fall creates a major strategic decision for NBC, Fox, and ABC on whether or not to cede the night and adjust their schedule accordingly.
Jul. 14, 2014, 8:13 AM| Comment!
Jul. 11, 2014, 1:19 PM
- The 2014 World Cup has delivered smashing ratings reports for ESPN, Univision, and ABC - but has also exposed a weakness in the TV Everywhere platform for coverage of live events, reports GigaOm.
- The complicated process to transcode video feeds into a content delivery network can create a delay of up to 20 seconds - plenty of time for spoilers to crop up for viewers through their online feeds, mobile devices, or nearby friends.
- Though the delay isn't considered a big enough complication to derail TV Everywhere, it's another annoyance for viewers already frustrated with the authentication process.
- Related stocks: DISH, DTV, CHTR, CVC, TWC, CMCSA, DISCA, CBS, VZ.
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