Tue, Jun. 9, 11:44 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is still working on its customer service reputation, saying that it's redesigned support forums for better access and reorganized content.
- Part of the moves will include highlighting frequent forum posters, and "Down the road we'll be adding other features like badging and gamification" to the area, an exec says.
- At INTX, CEO Brian Roberts splashed the news that Comcast would spend $300M and add 5,500 new workers to try to lift its reputation for poor service.
- There's still a long way to go, as recent surveys show Comcast (and all big cable peers) still at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to service reputation.
Tue, Jun. 9, 9:33 AM
- With merger talks ongoing between T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom (OTCQX:DTEGY) -- T-Mobile's controlling shareholder -- is reportedly more interested in merging T-Mobile spectrum (TMUS -1.2%) with Sprint's (S +1.1%) than in the Dish combo, The New York Post reports.
- The stance is centered in the idea of creating a valuable combination that would be more appealing for a sale to Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), sources told the paper. Adding Dish Network to T-Mobile makes more sense in the future, but it would kill the chance of a sale to Comcast on regulatory concerns, the sources paraphrased Höttges as saying.
- There's no word on how he feels about regulatory resistance to combining with Sprint (which reportedly killed such a merger last year).
- He reportedly told investors at last week's RBC Capital Markets road show that the Sprint combination would create huge value in teaming up when the broadcast incentive spectrum auction begins in early 2016. Sprint and Dish Network both have swaths of spectrum that would help T-Mobile fill in gaps.
- Previously: Telecom consolidation game may force Sprint's hand (Jun. 05 2015)
- Previously: Dish Network, T-Mobile up on report of merger talk; Sprint slips (Jun. 04 2015)
Mon, Jun. 8, 7:58 PM
- Lester Holt is increasing his grip on a permanent anchor slot for NBC Nightly News (NASDAQ:CMCSA), CNN's Brian Stelter is reporting, amid indications that Brian Williams won't be returning to that role even if he stays at NBC.
- It's been four months since Williams was given a six-month suspension related to "inexcusable" misrepresentation of events during his coverage of the Iraq War.
- Despite ABC taking a news ratings lead in April that snapped a 288-week streak for NBC, and taking some news demo wins in May sweeps, Holt has presided over a stable period where NBC leads in total viewers, though ABC is closer than before.
- As for Williams, NBC News chief Andy Lack is said to want to keep him at the network, if not necessarily in the nightly anchor chair. Last week Lack and NBC News President Deborah Turness said a resolution is coming very soon.
Mon, Jun. 8, 1:03 PM
- Melissa McCarthy's Spy (FOX, FOXA) took the box office crown in a flat summer weekend, edging out a still-strong San Andreas (NYSE:TWX), though moviegoers overall seem to be taking a break before a dinosaur-based tentpole next week.
- The Fox comedy marked $30M to lead film receipts, while San Andreas drew $26.44M to make a two-week haul of $92.16M.
- Spy has won over critics, which is more than can be said for the big-screen version of HBO's Entourage (TWX), which got a rough reception but still debuted to $17.81M with a mid-week release, $10.4M over the weekend, good for fourth.
- Low-budget horror Insidious: Chapter 3 pulled a strong $23M to take the third spot and marks the return of distributor Gramercy Pictures, part of Focus Features and ultimately owned by Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA).
- Among the longer-term releases adding to gains this week, Mad Max: Fury Road (TWX) has brought its domestic total to $130.8M, Pitch Perfect 2 (CMCSA) has logged $161M total, and Avengers: Age of Ultron (NYSE:DIS) bumped its total to $438M.
Mon, Jun. 8, 3:42 AM
- While mergers and acquisitions have accelerated sharply since the financial crisis, the government's pace for reviewing proposed deals is slowing.
- In such deal reviews concluded this year, more than 10 months elapsed, on average, between the transaction's announcement and a yes-or-no decision by the FTC or Justice Department. That's an increase from an average of seven months in recent years.
- Notables: Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) bid for Time Warner (NYSE:TWC) was pending for 14 months before it was dropped in April. Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) walked away from its deal to acquire Tokyo Electron (OTCPK:TOELY) 19 months after it was announced, while the FTC spent more than a year examining Sysco's (NYSE:SYY) planned acquisition of U.S. Foods before bringing a lawsuit against it in February.
Fri, Jun. 5, 9:46 PM
- With cable consolidation in the air, Cablevision Systems (NYSE:CVC) began riding high as another takeout candidate, and CEO James Dolan said onstage at INTX that consolidation needed to happen, ideally market by market.
- The past two weeks, though, have seen some negative takes from analysts. After hitting a 52-week high on May 26, Cablevision is down 9.2%. Today it gained 1.4% to settle at $24.06.
- Goldman Sachs initiated coverage of the stock last week at Neutral with a $23 price target, and Credit Suisse launched coverage at Underperform on Wednesday with a $20 target. Citigroup downgraded the shares to Sell on Tuesday.
- That culminated today with Telsey Advisory Group downgrading the shares to Market Perform as part of a report where analysts Tom Eagan said cable/satellite stocks are trading on M&A activity rather than fundamentals. He maintained a $23 price target for Cablevision.
- He thinks neither Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) nor Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) would be interested in Cablevision, which he says has struggled with customer growth and operating cash flow facing a 50% overlap with Verizon's FiOS.
- "We believe that the high-level household penetration of its existing service and the high-level Verizon FiOS overlap caused Cablevision to focus more on growing AOCF than subscribers," Eagan says.
Thu, Jun. 4, 3:46 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has agreed to buy ad-tech firm Visible World, giving it a toehold into data-driven ad targeting.
- The companies were reported to be talking about an acquisition back in February.
- Visible World helps marketers to send ads to very specific audiences based on ZIP codes based on aggregated data, including that from set-top boxes, and to create customized TV ads based on small demographic or geographic divisions.
- Still unclear is whether other cable companies, which are clients of Visible World's, would keep supplying space to the firm if it were owned by Comcast outright.
- At NBCUniversal's upfronts last month, the company said it would start tapping the sea of data from millions of parent Comcast's set-top boxes to enable audience targeting.
Wed, Jun. 3, 3:16 PM
- Reversing a 22-year-old stance, the FCC has adopted a change where cable providers can raise their rates on basic programming without getting the OK from local governments, an agency source tells Bloomberg.
- It's a move that broadcasters opposed but reportedly passed unanimously as the agency sees national satellite providers offering competition across markets.
- The change isn't a tremendous watershed -- recently, the FCC has been approving nearly all cableco requests to get free of local rate-setting. And Comcast says only about 17% of its subscriber base was subject to local regulation.
- Still, it frees a burden from the cablecos (the burden of proof now lies on localities) while broadcasters worry that their audience could be cut if and when cablecos put broadcast signals into a pricier tier.
- A collection of Senators have written FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler worried that the move would give "unnecessary" benefits to large cablecos when Congress wanted simpler procedure for smaller cablecos.
- Big cable: CMCSA +0.7%; TWC -1%; CHTR -2.8%; CVC -0.6%.
Tue, Jun. 2, 6:08 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is proactively sending $5 refunds to West Coast customers affected by a Monday night outage that knocked out Internet service to multiple cities.
- Some customers reported problematic access throughout Monday, but service failed entirely for multiple cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, over a few hours Monday night.
- The company pointed to a hardware failure in its backbone network. When it attempted to route around the damage, unexpected traffic overwhelmed local DNS servers. Comcast said it's added DNS capacity to avoid a recurrence.
- The refunds might go to hundreds of thousands of customers. Comcast is Seattle's biggest provider, serving about 200K customers there.
- Comcast blog post on the outage
Tue, Jun. 2, 3:10 PM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is hiring Chris Satchell as chief product officer for Comcast Cable, to replace Charlie Herrin.
- Satchell comes from the consumer technology officer job at Nike. He'll have broad authority to develop and design consumer products for the cable giant, leading teams in Philadelphia, Denver and Silicon Valley.
- Previously, Satchell was CTO at gaming/lottery company IGT and CTO of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment unit.
Mon, Jun. 1, 7:57 PM
- Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) has this going for it: It no longer has the industry's worst customer service, at least according to Consumer Reports.
- That honor goes to smaller player Mediacom, though not by much -- and peers like Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) aren't much better than that.
- Armstrong and WideOpenWest were highest rated in all the services they provide, suggesting small really is better when it comes to customer service (though Mediacom has just 890K subscribers against TWC's 12.25M).
- When it comes to TV service, Verizon's FiOS (NYSE:VZ) and satellite providers Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) and DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) did very well with consumers.
Mon, Jun. 1, 5:24 PM
- In a counterprogramming battle of Hawaiian romance against California disaster, it was the earthquake film that prevailed as San Andreas (NYSE:TWX) took the top spot at the weekend box office with $53.2M.
- The Dwayne Johnson-starring thriller passed Pitch Perfect 2 (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which drew $14.8M in its third week to hold second place.
- The highly anticipated Aloha (NYSE:SNE), directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams, tanked amid brutal reviews. It finished sixth with just $10M, the lowest opening this summer from a major studio.
- Worries that earthquake-prone Western states might skip San Andreas were unfounded; quite the opposite, a surprising 19 of the top-20 grossing theaters were in the San Francisco Bay area and greater Los Angeles. The film's audience also surprisingly skewed 51% female.
- Rounding out the top five, Tomorrowland (NYSE:DIS) was third with $13.8M; Mad Max: Fury Road (TWX) fourth with $13.6M, bringing its three-week domestic haul to $115.9M; and Avengers: Age of Ultron (DIS) was fifth with $10.9M. That film's pulled $427.1M domestically in five weeks, and its global take of $1.3B means it's passed Frozen to become the sixth-highest grossing film ever.
Fri, May 29, 6:13 PM
- Regulators have been probing allegations that Comcast (CMCSA -1%) violated agreements it made as part of its 2011 acquisition of NBCUniversal, The New York Post is reporting.
- The Justice Dept. and FCC are looking into the charges, which came up during the public comment period of the review for Comcast's plan to acquire Time Warner Cable.
- The claims range from Comcast interfering in areas it promised not to, and not supporting initiatives that it had promised to. Sources tell The Post that regulators are facing a problem with whether they can establish a separate action: “They’re sitting on a ton of potential evidence."
- Comcast had already been fined $800K by the FCC in 2012 for a violation related to the NBCUniversal agreements: failing to adequately promote stand-alone broadband service.
- Politically speaking, however, regulators considering the complaints might see the failure of the TWC deal as a sufficient punishment.
Fri, May 29, 11:30 AM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is redeeming nearly $2B in notes, it said in a statement.
- The company is redeeming the entirety of $750M outstanding of 5.85% senior notes due Nov. 15, along with all of $1B in 5.9% senior notes due next March 15.
- The redemptions will be funded by the company's recent $4B bond issuance.
- Total debt most recently was at $47.1B, and a total debt/equity ration of 91.5.
Wed, May 27, 7:21 PM
- Publisher Vox Media has announced it's acquiring Re/code, the tech news site led by Wall Street Journal veterans Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, in an all-stock deal -- though Quartz has reignited speculation from earlier this spring that Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), an investor in both, could end up owning it all.
- Comcast had been in talks to acquire Vox Media (the publisher of sports blog network SB Nation, tech site The Verge, food network Eater and an eponymous news/analysis site, among others), though the sticking point seems to have been Vox's wish for a near-$1B valuation. Vox has raised about $110M in the past six years, and its last funding round valued it around $380M.
- The cable giant gave its blessing to Vox's Re/code acquisition months ago, Quartz reports. But Re/code is smaller and easier to swallow; Vox may need a big buyer like Comcast, or to go the IPO route.
- Elsewhere at Comcast, NBCUniversal is putting together a sports documentary film group -- a move that puts it into the territory of HBO's longer-form sports reporting, as well as ESPN, though NBC will draw more from in-house film talent. It'll lean on its award-winning Olympics unit and, unsurprisingly, feature a strong Olympics focus.
Wed, May 27, 3:37 PM
- Hulu has another deal to offer its streaming service to a cable customer base, this time with Suddenlink, the country's seventh-largest cableco, with about 1.14M subscribers.
- Suddenlink will offer the service to its subscribers with TiVo set-top boxes later this year.
- Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal, Disney and Fox (CMCSA, DIS, FOXA) -- has about 9M subscribers and has been aggressively expanding its content offerings. It recently reached a reseller deal with Cablevision, as well as with Mediacom, WideOpenWest and three other small cable companies.
- Meanwhile, Suddenlink says it doesn't plan to reinstate Viacom programming after dropping it in a carriage dispute last year. Suddenlink claims Viacom wanted a nearly 50% increase in payment.
- Previously: Altice enters the U.S. with Suddenlink stake (May. 20 2015)
- Previously: AT&T deal to offer its customers Hulu subscriber content (May. 13 2015)
- Previously: Cablevision becomes first pay TV provider to offer Hulu (Apr. 28 2015)
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