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.
Tue, Aug. 18, 4:30 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA -1.2%) has a deal to acquire This Technology, a multiscreen video company that will help speed its new parent's transition to IP video.
- Terms were undisclosed. This Technology specializes in dynamic ad insertion and, interestingly, features an alternate content delivery platform that enters play during TV blackouts (such as for sports events).
- Most of the Denver-based This Technology team will join Comcast's VIPER team in Colorado, with others joining Comcast Wholesale.
- It's the second significant ad-tech acquisition for Comcast this summer. In June, Comcast announced its deal to acquire Visible World, with an eye surely to highly targeted ZIP code-based ad targeting based on data from set-top boxes.
Tue, Aug. 18, 11:53 AM
- NBCUniversal (CMCSA -1%) has confirmed a widely expected $200M investment into digital publisher BuzzFeed, which values BuzzFeed around $1.5B.
- The move follows up a similar $200M investment in competing site Vox Media, part of an effort to expand exposure to millennials.
- BuzzFeed's Kenneth Lerer says the collaboration could include television content, movies, the Olympics, and joint partnerships with brands and ad agencies.
- BuzzFeed has invested much of last year's capital raise in boosting its L.A.-based video unit, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures -- a particular selling point for NBCUniversal, which hopes to capitalize on its new partner's skills in online video.
Mon, Aug. 17, 11:08 AM
- Straight Outta Compton -- the story of the rise of rap group N.W.A -- topped the box office with a strong $56.1M, piling on to a record year for Universal (CMCSA +1.2%).
- On the back of a solid marketing strategy, the film outpaced a third week of Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation (VIA +0.9%, VIAB +0.9%), which collected $17M, and the debut of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (TWX +0.9%), which drew a disappointing $13.5M to settle for third.
- After an opening-week letdown, fourth-place Fantastic Four (FOX, FOXA) crumbled to end the weekend with 8M ($42M total in two weeks).
- Straight Outta Compton's certain profit (the film cost just $30M to produce) will mark the ninth profitable film of Universal's 10 this year -- and the studio has collected a worldwide box-office haul of $5.76B, already surpassing the highest full-year total from a studio ($5.52B, from Fox last year).
- Universal created $715M in operating cash flow in the first six months of 2015.
Fri, Aug. 14, 5:14 PM
- Longtime Universal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) executive Jeffrey Kirschenbaum is leaving his post as co-president of production to join Joe Roth in a new venture, Roth Kirschenbaum films.
- Kirschenbaum's departure had long been the subject of rumors, some of which had him heading to Warner Bros.
- He served as production executive on some of the studio's biggest franchises -- including The Fast and the Furious (whose latest entry became a top-five all-time grosser and is helping anchor Universal's banner year), the Bourne films and Mummy movies.
- He will work with Roth on projects including The Huntsman (in post-production, a follow-up to worldwide hit Snow White and the Huntsman), School for Good and Evil, 90 Church and Red Rising.
- Previously: 2015 box office: Universal 138% ahead of 2014 pace with $1.38B home grosses (Jul. 04 2015)
Fri, Aug. 14, 4:01 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA -1.2%) is nearing a launch of an online video service -- currently called "Watchable" -- that will be available on the Web for subscribers and non-subscribers, on iOS and Android.
- The service has ambitions to rival online video from YouTube and Facebook and is partnering with digital firms including Vox and BuzzFeed (into which Comcast and NBCUniversal have recently sunk major investments), as well as comedy sites AwesomenessTV and The Onion and news sites like Mic and Vice. That's in addition to its NBC content.
- The service will be curated for its Xfinity X1 set-top box users -- a few million today, but Comcast plans to switch all its subscribers to X1 boxes in the next few years, Business Insider says.
Thu, Aug. 13, 4:58 PM
- In today's stop at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, NBC (CMCSA +0.4%) entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt said the network had signed The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon ("the best there is") to 2021.
- Fallon debuted on Feb. 17, 2014, after the network's coverage of the Winter Olympics.
- Elsewhere at the Peacock network, Rihanna will join The Voice as an adviser to the show's panel of judges (Gwen Stefani, Pharrell, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton).
- Will Donald Trump ever come back to host The Celebrity Apprentice? "Absolutely not."
- The network will bring back the business-themed reality competition, but not next year -- and it will have a new host when it does return, Greenblatt said.
Wed, Aug. 12, 4:12 PM
- NBCUniversal (CMCSA +1.1%) is locking down a previously reported investment in Vox Media, putting $200M into the digital publisher.
- At a pre-money valuation of $850M, Re/code reports, that would make Vox Media worth over $1B.
- A similar reported $200M investment into BuzzFeed would value that publisher at about $1.5B.
- Vox CEO Jim Bankoff says it and NBCU will collaborate on digital advertising and that Vox employees will likely be seen more often on NBCU networks.
- Previously: Report: NBCUniversal close to $250M investment in BuzzFeed (Jul. 30 2015)
- Previously: Comcast on the acquisition hunt to court young consumers (Jul. 24 2015)
- Previously: Report: Comcast re-stirring talks around buying Vox Media (May. 27 2015)
Wed, Aug. 12, 11:07 AM
- Masayoshi Son's double-down on the future of Sprint (S -6.4%) came after he and another top executive at SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY), Nikesh Arora, floated the idea of selling the company to Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and to France's Altice (OTCPK:ATCEY) -- but getting no uptake, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- "I should go back to where I was focused," he says -- the Internet side of SoftBank -- though a long slog is ahead yet, if he's to turn around a company that hasn't turned an annual profit since 2006.
- Son was banking on a merger with T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) and calls his misjudgment of U.S. regulators "one of the biggest mistakes in my life." Now, the focus is on improving the carrier's network as hopes for restarting a merger push with T-Mobile are on hold until after the 2016 presidential election.
- Son appeared on Sprint's earnings call last week to reiterate excitement about the company's future under Marcelo Claure, who Son calls "my soul mate ... a street fighter sharing the underdog experience like myself."
- But fixing Sprint is turning out to be staggeringly expensive. Sprint doesn't have the money for a once-and-for-all fix, Son concedes, and SoftBank's covenants with banks prevent sinking more cash in.
- Ominously, SoftBank has recently invested $1B in a handful of South and Southeast Asian start-ups, and plans to invest more than $10B in India alone.
Mon, Aug. 10, 5:47 PM
- Effective with its September rebalance, S&P is going to allow some multiple share class lines to be listed separately in its indices, rather than consolidated lines -- meaning that both classes of Comcast (CMCSA, CMCSK) and Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) will be included in the S&P 500 after the close Sept. 18.
- All multiple-class companies that have listed share class lines will be adjusted for share and float per each line. Multiple share class companies that have an unlisted class line will be adjusted as well.
- There are four companies in the S&P 100 with two or more publicly listed lines: Google is already represented by its two lines. Comcast and Fox will have their additional lines added. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) will be an exception due to liquidity concerns, and share count will be consolidated under the B line.
- With the S&P 500, Discovery Communications (DISCA, DISCK) is also already represented by two lines in the index. News Corp. (NWS, NWSA) will have both its share lines listed. The end result is 500 companies in the index, and 505 trading lines.
Mon, Aug. 10, 3:36 PM
- NBC Sports Group (CMCSA +1.3%) has inked a six-year extension on its exclusive rights to carry English Premier League soccer.
- ESPN reportedly didn't bid on the rights. NBC had signed a three-year deal ahead of the 2013 season for about $250M, which expires after this year.
- Facing other bidders, a "nervous, anxious" NBC worked through the weekend to secure the deal after bidding on Thursday.
- The deal will be for a higher price than the current one. Comparing markups: The Premier League recently sold U.K. rights for $7.8B for three seasons, up from $4.7B for the 2013-2016 period.
- Viewership of the league for NBC was up 9% Y/Y last season.
Mon, Aug. 10, 2:26 PM
- Fox's expensive reboot of Fantastic Four might face a write-off after stumbling from the box-office gate this weekend amid bad word-of-mouth and critical reviews.
- Fox (FOX -1.4%, FOXA -0.1%) inherited the Marvel property and had hopes for a hero franchise that could rival X-Men, though the film will need a huge overseas reception to realize those dreams.
- The $26.2M it earned was below expectations of $40M, ensuring it finished second behind Paramount's Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA +2.2%, VIAB +2.5%), topping the box office with $29.4M ($108.7M in its two weeks).
- Among longer-term August players, Ant-Man (DIS +1%) earned $7.8M to bring its domestic total to $147.4M in four weeks, and Minions (CMCSA +1.3%) drew $7.4M to total $302.8M in five weeks.
Thu, Aug. 6, 1:01 PM
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) is down another 5.2% today (down 13.7% in two days) amid a deepening media stock sell-off that it seems to have spurred with its Tuesday earnings report, where it took a fair chunk of time on an analyst call acknowledging subscriber losses at ESPN.
- Also off broadly at midday: CBS -3.1%; CMCSA -4%; FOXA -9.8%; VIAB -15.6%; TWX -5%; AMCX -9.6%; LGF -6.7%.
- The sell-off is affecting several companies with a cable or pay-TV component, as sub losses at ESPN -- the most valuable part of any cable bundle -- point to the effect of cord-cutting.
- Analysts are agreeing that the trend of unbundling (or skinny bundling) might threaten the long-term health of the pay TV ecosystem, which has profited from the promise of rising subscription fees from providers. That's dependent on subscriber counts that don't significantly drop off.
- A growing pile of reports this week is indicating warning signs for subscriber counts. Dish Network (DISH -2.2%) had "almost certainly the worst quarter" for satellite subscriber losses, analyst Craig Moffett noted, as it merged Sling TV subscriber growth into its overall count, masking the core number. Moffett estimates Dish lost 151K satellite TV customers in Q2.
- Subscriber losses mean lower affiliate fees. Disney said in its call "we now expect domestic cable affiliate revenue [growth] to fall short of previous expectation, but still in high single digits."
- Other industry decliners: CRWN -8.9%; QVCA -5.4%; STRZA -6.1%
- Previously: Disney tumbles 8.9% after revenue miss; Iger talks ESPN again (Aug. 05 2015)
- Previously: Disney's Iger bullish on ESPN despite consumer changes, unbundling (Aug. 04 2015)
Tue, Aug. 4, 12:19 PM
- Criticized for slow performance on its low-cost Internet-service rollout, Comcast (CMCSA -0.4%) is making moves to upgrade its Internet Essentials program, increasing speeds and expanding eligibility.
- Comcast created the program in 2011 as part of a condition it agreed to for approval of its buyout of NBCUniversal. It had offered 5 Mbps service for $10/month to families of children who qualified for discounted school lunches.
- Comcast is doubling the speed of the service, to 10 Mbps, and is testing a program for low-income seniors to expand its reach.
Mon, Aug. 3, 1:19 PM
- One big film question coming into August was whether Tom Cruise was too old to still carry an action movie; Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA, VIAB) answered its own way, dominating the box office with $56M domestically, including $20.3M on Friday, a first-day high for the franchise.
- That's well ahead of $40M projections and even further ahead of another debut, the remade Vacation (NYSE:TWX), which drew $14.9M, good for second place.
- They were followed by a series of films doing repeat business: Ant-Man (NYSE:DIS), third with $12.6M ($132.2M in three weeks); Minions (NASDAQ:CMCSA), fourth with $12.2M ($287.4M in four weeks); and Pixels (NYSE:SNE) in fifth with $10.4M ($45.6M in its two weeks).
- Worldwide, the new M:I has hit $121M -- adding $65M internationally to its $56M domestic. The film's outperformed the franchise's previous entry, Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol by 49% in the same markets.
- Rogue Nation is set to open in China on Sept. 8; it was the biggest international market for Ghost Protocol, with $101M in receipts.
Fri, Jul. 31, 1:21 PM
- NBC (CMCSA +0.9%) isn't showing ads for Sling TV (DISH -0.4%) in some markets, even though the other Big Four networks are doing so, Dish Network says.
- Earlier this month, Sling TV unveiled its first nationwide campaign, comparing old-line TV providers to childhood bullies.
- NBC confirmed its locally owned stations in New York, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., are declining to run the ads.
- "Maybe these commercials hit a little too close to home for them when we call out tactics like price hikes, equipment fees and just all around terrible customer service," says Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch.
- In April, Verizon said that Walt Disney was refusing to carry ads in some markets for its new "skinny" bundles, saying the new channel lineups violated carriage agreements.
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