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)
Tue, Mar. 17, 2:03 PM
- With the proposed merger of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) getting all the oxygen from the post-net-neutrality FCC, the $48.5B deal that AT&T (NYSE:T) has to acquire DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) appears to be getting a relatively free pass.
- Both deals will create a company controlling more than a quarter of pay TV -- so it may be Internet access that's drawing extra scrutiny. The combined Comcast-TWC company would serve high-speed Internet to almost 40% of Americans.
- Even FCC petitions opposing the deals are telling: 20 against Comcast-TWC, five against AT&T-DirecTV. And 88,000 brief comments opposing Comcast-TWC, 14,000 opposing AT&T-DirecTV.
- One critic of the T-DTV deal told Reuters that Justice Department reviewers responded in a meeting with "few questions" and "blank stares."
- Today: CMCSA -0.7%; TWC -1%; T +0.1%; DTV +0.2%.
- Previously: FCC pauses review of Comcast-TWC, AT&T-DTV; likely weeks away (Mar. 13 2015)
- Previously: Brean downgrades DirecTV to Hold; AT&T offer priced in (Feb. 23 2015)
Mon, Mar. 16, 10:33 PM
- The TV service that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is talking about (per WSJ) would be anchored by major broadcasters ABC (NYSE:DIS), CBS and Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) -- but leaving out NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) because of hard feelings might make Apple's plan a harder sell.
- WSJ's Shalini Ramachandran notes Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) launched Sling TV without Fox and NBC, and Sony (NYSE:SNE) Vue without Disney ... which might make this yet another messy middle step toward some customers' a la carte dreams.
- The big broadcasters aren't all, though -- the talks with Disney could bring ESPN, and there may be other basic cable additions, though the ultimate package is likely to end up as a "skinny" bundle that leaves out the typically large number of channels in typical pay TV tiers.
- According to the report, the service would work across all iOS devices: iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs.
- Previously: WSJ: Apple talking Web TV service for fall launch (Mar. 16 2015)
Mon, Mar. 16, 10:06 PM
- Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is in talks to launch a Web TV service this fall -- featuring about 25 channels (including ABC (NYSE:DIS), CBS and Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA)), costing $30-$40, and available on devices like Apple TV, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) isn't in the talks right now because of a falling-out between Apple and NBCUniversal owner Comcast over last year's negotiations, the paper says.
- An announcement could come in June for a September launch.
Sat, Mar. 14, 8:00 AM
- Sony Pictures Television (NYSE:SNE) is within a few weeks of a deal to sell the episode library of hit '90s sitcom Seinfeld to a video streaming service: Hulu (CMCSA, DIS, FOXA), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), or Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), and thus maybe to a whole new generation of viewers.
- Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) won't be among them, though, as it's passing -- which gives competitors a chance to nab a TV crown jewel and make up some ground in a content-acquisition arms race.
- Seinfeld -- a show that has generated more than $2.7B in syndication sales alone -- has 180 episodes, each of which should draw well over $500K in what should be a long multi-year agreement.
- While Sony has distribution rights and is making the deal, most of the revenue would likely go to Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), owner of Seinfeld producer Castle Rock Entertainment.
- Previously: Now a friendly deal between Time Warner and Netflix (Oct. 15 2014)
- Previously: CBS next to join Sony's online TV service (Nov. 06 2014)
- Previously: Bernstein: Amazon spending $2.5B+ on content next year (Oct. 13 2014)
Fri, Mar. 13, 4:28 PM
- As signaled before, the FCC has paused the 180-day "shot clock" on reviewing two megamergers -- Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) deal for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), and AT&T's (NYSE:T) deal to buy DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- as it's tied up with another case over programming contracts.
- The review of the deals was set to expire by the end of March, but now may take somewhat longer, likely several more weeks.
- The cause is the ongoing dispute with programming firms -- Disney (NYSE:DIS), CBS, Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), Viacom (VIA, VIAB) and others -- over whether third parties commenting on the mergers will get access to private documents containing sensitive pricing and strategy information.
- The FCC has argued it has sufficient protections to keep those details from getting out. But the merger reviews now appear to be dependent entirely on that case's timetable.
- "In reaching this conclusion, the commission reserves the right to restart the clock as it believes will best serve the public interest," the FCC said.
Thu, Mar. 12, 11:57 PM
- The MPAA's report on global box office notes that 2014 sales were up 1% to $36.4B, lifted by China's industry -- the first time that Asian revenues passed those of other regions.
- China's $4.8B made it the first foreign market to exceed $4B a year. Domestic sales of $10.4B were down 5%.
- In 2013 the three major regions (North America, Europe/Middle East/Africa, Asia Pacific) essentially tied, but 2014 was the year of Asian box office share: 34.1% vs. 29.1% in EMEA and 28.6% in North America.
- Among worries for the industry, The Hollywood Reporter notes 32% of North America's audience didn't go to a movie at all, and that steep dropoffs in ages 2-11 and 25-39 means the industry needs to look at long-term audience growth. (Frequent moviegoers make up just 11% of the population but buy 51% of the tix.)
- The U.S. industry might be frontloaded for a rebound with a franchise- and sequel-heavy 2015 ahead, though.
- Filmmakers: CMCSA, FOXA, TWX, VIA, DIS, DWA, SNE
- Previously: DreamWorks touts Chinese venture, global projects (Mar. 04 2015)
Wed, Mar. 11, 10:29 PM
- About two in five households now subscribe to some kind of video streaming, according to Nielsen, shedding some light on an area that the streaming companies haven't really been illuminating.
- Aside from subscriber numbers that the companies report, the new research is focused on penetration. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) was top-ranked, with 36% of households subscribing in November.
- Amazon Prime (NASDAQ:AMZN) was next (13% of households), followed by Hulu Plus (CMCSA, FOXA, DIS) with 6.5%.
- Streaming-subscriber households are spending more screen time than nonsubscribers: 2 hours, 45 minutes a day, vs. 1:57.
- Reactions are mixed as to what that means for cord-cutting: "People who like TV, love TV," says Pivotal Research's Brian Wieser, arguing that Netflix subscribers aren't necessarily abandoning pay TV.
- While a third of households have just one service, only 10% have two and just 2.6% subscribe to three; those numbers correlate heavily with income.
- Time-shifting, however, is way up, especially among younger audiences. Live watching is down among adults to 4 hours, 51 minutes a day, down 13 minutes from the prior year.
Wed, Mar. 11, 8:34 PM
- Digitalsmiths -- the data research company owned by TiVo (NASDAQ:TIVO) -- has a white paper out suggesting that 1.5M Americans plan to cut the cord and ditch their pay television service, while another 38.1M are dissatisfied -- two-thirds of those because of the cost.
- The report -- based on its sample of more than 3,000 subscribers -- says 8.9% switched pay-TV providers in the prior three months, up 2.1% Y/Y.
- Another interesting number: 78.7% of respondents watch 10 channels or fewer -- which has to make future cord-cutters wonder what they're really paying for.
- While the report is largely bad news for pay TV, parent company TiVo is marketing devices both for cord-cutters and for its pay-TV partners. And 20.4% of survey takers recently upped the level of their pay service. (hat tip: FierceCable)
- Pay TV stocks today: CMCSA -1.1%; TWC -0.5%; CVC -1%; CHTR +0.7%; T -0.5%; VZ +0.4%.
Tue, Mar. 10, 8:31 PM
- Aereo pushes back after a disappointing bankruptcy auction, filing a suit against major broadcasters (DIS, CBS, FOXA, CMCSA) accusing them of chilling the bidding with baseless litigation.
- While Aereo says it has no intention of reviving the business that broadcasters said was retransmitting their programming without royalties, the broadcasters have pursued a "bury 'em deep" legal strategy that fights Aereo's every move through bankruptcy.
- Why it matters: Aereo's biggest debt is in damages owed to the broadcasters that could run into tens of millions of dollars, and Aereo would like that claim bumped below others: “The equities demand that the costs of the New York Broadcasters’ improper litigation tactics should not be borne by innocent creditors."
- Aereo drew less than $2M in its February bankruptcy auction, well below expectations.
Tue, Mar. 10, 2:49 PM
- The push to legalize sports betting has a "tidal wave" of momentum behind it, according to some legal and gaming experts.
- NBA commissioner Adam Silver publicly supports bringing sports betting off the black market, and other high-level sports execs say they are open to having discussions on the topic.
- If legalized sports betting were to take off, companies with an edge on the technology front could carve up market share.
- U.K. firm William Hill (OTC:WIMHF, OTCPK:WIMHY) now brings in 40% of its handle via mobile apps.
- Though major casino operators such as Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR), and MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) face some risk of reduced Las Vegas traffic, they also have a branding advantage with potential bettors which can be leveraged.
- Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS) and Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) appear poised to jump on the sports gambling scene as soon as legalities clear.
- Even Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is on the periphery of sports betting through Comcast Ventures' property FanDuel.com.
Tue, Mar. 10, 9:04 AM
- The Weather Channel went dark on Verizon (NYSE:VZ) FiOS stations today as carriage agreements expired without renewal. Verizon has placed AccuWeather Network content on the stations where TWC lived.
- It's not the first showdown for the Weather Channel, owned in part by NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA) along with Bain Capital and Blackstone (NYSE:BX). A year ago the channel took a few months' hiatus from DirecTV over a carriage fee dispute and returned thanks to Hilton Hotels' insistence.
- The channel has a bit of weight to throw around -- it's tops on the Nielsen list of national networks, with 97.1M subscribers.
- Verizon shares are down 0.7% premarket.
Mon, Mar. 9, 11:55 PM
- Recent underperformance at the American box office is catching, as a lackluster weekend came with what some analysts are calling R-rated fatigue (too many films with the restricted rating that means lower box office overall).
- Sci-fi robot film Chappie (NYSE:SNE) led the take in the U.S. with $13.3M -- not strong, but enough for No. 1 in a week where ticket sales were down 35% Y/Y.
- Among other debuts, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (NASDAQ:FOXA) drew $8.5M, good enough for third behind the $10M of Will Smith feature Focus (NYSE:TWX).
- The other key opening was Unfinished Business (FOXA), a new bomb for Vince Vaughn at 10th place with $4.8M.
- Some of the veteran films still playing pushed their takes -- Kingsman: The Secret Service (FOXA) drew $8.3M to reach $98M; The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (VIA, VIAB) sold $6.7M to reach $148.7M; and Fifty Shades of Grey (NASDAQ:CMCSA) took in $5.5M to hit $156M domestically.
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