Mon, Jul. 13, 7:51 PM
- Standard & Poor's has a report out comparing winners and losers in a new era of television -- largely dependent on attributes that will let them weather Internet-driven changes to things like traditional business models and bundling.
- Naveen Sarma points to four traits for long-term success in media: "strong, well-defined brands that translate across both traditional TV and online alternatives; limited exposure to second- and third-tier cable networks; less dependence on full-sized video bundles; and willingness to let vulnerable networks fail."
- Based on that, winners who have more of those qualities: CBS (NYSE:CBS), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) and Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS).
- Losers who might struggle: AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) and Viacom (VIA, VIAB).
Mon, Jul. 13, 3:14 PM
- Universal (CMCSA +1%) kept its 2015 winning streak going as Minions logged the second-best animated film opening ever, drawing $115.2M at home to top the box office (and even more overseas).
- The only animated film that opened better was 2007's Shrek the Third. It helped that Minions was literally everywhere (4,301 theaters).
- Two other openers were swept up in the chaos. The Gallows (TWX +1.2%) drew $10M to take fifth place, and Self/less got $5.38M to take eighth.
- The rest of the top five: Jurassic World (NASDAQ:CMCSA), $18.1M ($590.6M cumulative in five weeks); Inside Out (DIS +1.4%), $17.1M ($283.6M cumulative in four weeks); Terminator: Genisys (VIA +1%, VIAB +1.2%), $13.7M ($68.7M cumulative, two weeks).
- Combined with $124.3M outside the U.S. this week (and a bit more from an early global rollout), Minions has made just short of $400M worldwide. It would need momentum, but a $1B global mark isn't out of the question. The film hits 11 more territories in the next two months.
Mon, Jul. 13, 10:02 AM
- After last night's reveal of its cord-cutter focused streaming video service, Comcast (CMCSA +1.2%) is now offering pricing details on its 2-Gbps "Gigabit Pro" high-speed Internet option, and aggressively promoting it.
- The cableco will carry a promo price of $159/month for the fiber-to-the-premises option, a little over half the regular price of $300/month.
- That's less than the $400/month that it's been charging for existing 505-Mbps service, and those subscribers will be moved to Gigabit Pro. Customers need to be within a third of a mile of Comcast's fiber network, and agree to a two-year contract with fees like $500 for service activation and $500 for professional installation.
- The service is coming available in the areas that Comcast has been pressing (and where it is responding to competition from AT&T and Google): in Atlanta and Chicago, and areas of Florida, California, Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee. Comcast plans to make it available to 18M customers by the end of the year.
- Previously: Comcast launches Stream video service for its cord-cutter customers (Jul. 13 2015)
- Previously: A hint for Comcast's 2-Gig pricing? (May. 11 2015)
Mon, Jul. 13, 1:39 AM
- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is launching its response to the flood of streaming video alternatives with a service it calls Stream -- a $15/month offering that it's pitching as an add-on to customers of its high-speed Internet.
- The service will feature about a dozen major networks (including the Big Four broadcasters as well as PBS, CW, and Spanish-language channels), as well as HBO and a cloud DVR feature, that can be viewed on Web browsers, tablets and mobiles, without any contracts. Some "TV Everywhere" apps will work as well.
- It's Comcast's "Sling-killer," but with catches: Unlike Sling TV, HBO is the only cable net it offers; it lacks ESPN as well as other basic-cable fare like AMC. And subscribers won't be able to stream the service to their televisions; that's left for Comcast's standard cable packages.
- It'll be available in Boston, Chicago and Seattle later this year, and head for a nationwide rollout (in its service area) in 2016.
- Previously: Sling TV: Core channel bundle likely to stay skinny (May. 11 2015)
Thu, Jul. 9, 8:54 PM
- San Diego Comic-Con has increasingly been an annual launch pad for astronomically-budgeted films, particularly as superheroes have dominated U.S. entertainment, but so far it belongs to TV as many film franchises (particularly Marvel) sit this one out.
- That's mainly a matter of film timing, but TV is taking advantage. Shows like Supergirl (NYSE:CBS) and Blindspot and Heroes Reborn (NASDAQ:CMCSA) are taking advantage of the fan base to tease their fall efforts, as are Minority Report and Gotham (FOX, FOXA) and Agent Carter (NYSE:DIS). (TV clips)
- With Marvel headed into "Phase Three" of its cinematic universe in 2016, it's taking the year off. Sony Pictures (NYSE:SNE) and Paramount (VIA, VIAB) are sitting it out too, leaving a lot of room for DC Comics and its work with Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX), including Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. But there's still the last installment of The Hunger Games (NYSE:LGF) as well as Star Wars events to come, though Disney may hold key nuggets back until it hosts D23.
- Comic-Con runs through Sunday.
- Previously: With no Marvel, TWX and DC could grab Comic-Con focus (Jun. 18 2015)
Thu, Jul. 9, 7:07 PM
- In a largely sports-free week, USA Network (NASDAQ:CMCSA) was the most watched primetime cable net during the period including the Independence Day holiday, Nielsen says, with the help of WWE Monday Night Raw.
- The network averaged 1.6M primetime viewers from June 29-July 5, just ahead of a three-way tie at 1.5M logged by Discovery Channel (NASDAQ:DISCA), TNT (NYSE:TWX) and Fox News (FOX, FOXA). Discovery Channel was most-watched in the adults 18-49 demographic in primetime.
- On a 24-hour basis, Cartoon Network was tops among overall viewers with 1.3M average, while Adult Swim took the 24-hour lead in the demographic.
- TNT dramas Major Crimes and Rizzoli & Isles took the top two slots among individual shows, with 4.3M and 4.2M viewers respectively.
Thu, Jul. 9, 11:11 AM
- Comcast (CMCSA +1.4%) is adding five key countries to its unlimited phone calling plan, meaning it claims no-cost calling for its phone customers to almost half the world's population.
- The carrier is adding calls to Mexico, India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea to its Xfinity Voice Unlimited plan.
- Using its app, subscribers can call from smartphones and devices connected to Wi-Fi as well as their home phones.
- The plan has rolled out in the company's Central Division, and will roll out to Northeast customers next week and others by the end of August.
- Comcast has more than 11M phone customers, with nearly all residential customers signed up for the Xfinity Voice Unlimited plan.
Wed, Jul. 8, 9:00 PM
- With its failed bid for Time Warner Cable fading into memory, Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) earnings call this month is likely to focus on its performance refocus, growth and other metrics -- including its buyback plans, notes Reinhardt Krause.
- TWC's sizable cash flows would likely have meant a step-up in stock repurchases by the merged company, while Comcast alone is likely to have mostly used up its existing $10B authorization by the end of the year.
- In an environment when companies are taking on low-interest debt to fuel buybacks, "With capital intensity decreasing longer term, Comcast could buy back 20% of its market cap in 2015-19 while actually deleveraging," says Barclays' Kannan Venkateshwar.
- Meanwhile, in M&A, few are expecting Comcast to rebound from the failed TWC deal with more deals. A wireless firm likely isn't in its plans, though an Internet content deal (a la Verizon/AOL) isn't out of the question.
- New CFO Michael Cavanagh will debut in the July 23 earnings call in a year where the company's TV businesses face pressure even as the stock has hit record highs, with no small help from Universal Studios.
Tue, Jul. 7, 9:34 PM
- Next week, the FCC is looking to keep a landmark broadcast incentive wireless spectrum auction on track for early next year despite contentious debates from stakeholders -- and if it does, it's a boon for T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS), says Guggenheim's Paul Gallant.
- That's because though T-Mobile and Sprint (NYSE:S) have pushed for a bigger reserve of spectrum for "smaller carriers" (i.e.: them), a delay might mean that the current 30 MHz set-aside was at risk.
- Meanwhile, the airwaves will be coming from TV broadcasters who must go along with any plan -- meaning they expect to see prices they like. A group representing smaller broadcasters say if the framework isn't revised, opening prices for broadcasters could be reduced by $8M.
- Major broadcasters (ABC (NYSE:DIS), CBS, NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA), FOX) aren't expected to be key airwaves sellers, while smaller groups like Sinclair (NASDAQ:SBGI) and Entravision (NYSE:EVC) are expected to sell.
- Related firms: T, VZ
- Previously: FCC chairman: Cap bid credits, keep smaller spectrum set-aside (Jun. 25 2015)
Tue, Jul. 7, 6:45 PM
- A big fiber buildout from AT&T (T +0.5%) is likely to hurt big cable, including Comcast (CMCSA +0.6%), Charter (CHTR +0.5%), Time Warner Cable (TWC +0.7%) and Cablevision (CVC +1%), analyst Craig Moffett says, and it's reminiscent of the mid-2000s.
- Documents from AT&T show that after wrapping its DirecTV merger, it plans to run fiber past the equivalent of 11.7M homes, he notes. The catch is exactly where that fiber runs, and how much that overlaps the cablecos' footprints.
- Cable analysts, he says, will have to "adjust their models to reduce both growth and pricing power assumptions.”
- Moffett estimates that Comcast may have the biggest change in overlap, to 22% from 18%. For Charter, it would go to 12% from 7%. And a Charter-Time Warner Cable combination would go from a 17% overlap to 21%.
Tue, Jul. 7, 11:26 AM
- Among a number of technical moves today, Comcast (CMCSA -0.7%) has extended its cloud DVR service to central California, allowing its X1 customers to stream their TV lineup on any screen in the home, or to download recorded programs to view on various devices.
- The company has launched an Xfinity app for iOS and Android as well as a dedicated portal for viewing on computers (Comcast points to CEA data showing 46% of TV households watch on a laptop, notebook or netbook).
- Meanwhile, it's upgrading speeds at no cost for most Xfinity Internet customers in the Eastern U.S., moving speed for its "Blast" tier to 150 Mbps and launching a new tier at 75 Mbps.
- And it's launched more than 1,800 new Wi-Fi hotspots in its "Keystone Region" in Pennsylvania.
Mon, Jul. 6, 1:09 PM
- A holiday weekend at the box office failed to produce sparks from high-profile new releases, as it was June's dinosaurs and Pixar that kept ruling the day.
- Over the five-day holiday period, it was Inside Out (DIS +0.5%) that earned the crown with $45.3M, to $43.8M grossed by Jurassic World (CMCSA +0.2%). On the more standard three-day measure, Jurassic World edged Inside Out in preliminary numbers, $30.9M to $30.1M, to lead the box office for the fourth straight weekend.
- That brings Inside Out to $246.2M in domestic grosses in three weeks, while Jurassic World has over $558M in four weeks to become the No. 4 domestic grosser of all time (and No. 5 globally with $1.385B).
- Meanwhile, high-profile new entries were mild disappointments -- Terminator: Genisys (VIA -1.1%, VIAB -1.1%) earned $28.7M over three days to finish a close third, and drew $44.2M over the five-day holiday; and Magic Mike XXL (TWX -1.1%) was fourth with $11.6M in three days and $27M over five days, drawing a 96% female audience (high even considering the male-stripper subject matter).
- Disney crossed the $3B mark globally, as Inside Out continues to cruise, and Avengers: Age of Ultron opened in its last international market, pulling $6.5M in two days in Japan. It's the sixth year that Disney has earned $3B globally, but the fast it has done so, five weeks faster than last year's record of Aug. 5.
- Updated 6:17 p.m.: Final figures show that Inside Out prevailed both in the three-day measure ($29.8M to Jurassic World's $29.2M) and the five-day holiday figures ($45.1M to Jurassic World's $42.1M).
Sat, Jul. 4, 3:36 PM
- The halfway point of 2015 has come for film studios, and fireworks are popping at Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), as its Universal Pictures continues to ring up a banner year.
- Through last weekend, Universal leads studios in domestic grosses with just short of $1.38B. That's good for 25% market share, lifted by the runaway success of Jurassic World ($500M domestic), Furious 7 ($351M), and nicely performing Pitch Perfect 2 ($181M) and Fifty Shades of Grey ($166M).
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX) recently set their own record times to the $1B domestic mark. Disney, with $1.08B domestic, has a 19.7% market share marked by Avengers: Age of Ultron ($452.5M), Cinderella ($200.3M) and Inside Out ($185M and counting), while Warner Bros., with $1.02B, has an 18.5% market share chiefly due to American Sniper ($348.8M).
- Universal's domestic grosses are running up 138% from last year's pace at this point, while Disney's are up 37% and Warner Bros. up 16.7%.
- Sony (SNE; $218.7M) and Paramount (VIA, VIAB; $276.6M) are working with smaller film slates so far, with just four and three films out respectively, compared to Universal's nine, Disney's seven, and Warner's 13. Fox (FOX, FOXA; $641M gross) is running fourth so far with seven films.
- Key films ready to take their turn this summer: Paramount's Terminator: Genisys and Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation, Warner's Magic Mike XXL and Universal's Minions.
Wed, Jul. 1, 3:50 PM
- While AT&T and CBS settled another carriage negotiation today, Comcast (CMCSA, up 3.3% and setting new all-time highs this afternoon) and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) are still talking over a less certain deal -- and with Discovery's key "Shark Week" programming just a few days away.
- Talks are progressing after some early Discovery worries about retaliation (Discovery spoke out against the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger deal). Some analysts figure that with the TWC deal dead, Comcast may get more aggressive in carriage talks.
- Shark Week broke Discovery viewing records last August.
- Also today, New York's 30 Rockefeller Plaza -- longtime home of NBC, and previously known as the RCA Building and the GE Building -- officially became the "Comcast Building." New signage on the iconic Manhattan skyscraper will hold Comcast's logo, as well as feature NBC's trademark peacock for the first time.
- Previously: Comcast at all-time high as Brean raises target (Jul. 01 2015)
Wed, Jul. 1, 12:43 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA +2.5%) is hovering at its all-time intraday high, of $61.75, following bullish notes from Brean Capital today.
- Brean's Todd Mitchell raised the firm's price target for Comcast to $69, from $67, while maintaining a Buy rating.
- A successful year for film should make up for shortfalls elsewhere, with no small amount of help from Jurassic World and its $1B-plus global grosses, Mitchell notes: "This should offset lower expected growth of 1% from broadcast networks and a 5% drop at Cable Networks, with both facing tough comps."
- Brean sees cable margins coming under pressure; the firm estimates that cable revenues should rise 6% to $11.7B and operating cash flow up 5% to $4.79B, slightly down from its previous estimate of $4.84B.
Tue, Jun. 30, 11:23 AM
- Cable and wireless firms are on the (legal) clock, as a D.C. appeals court is setting an expedited schedule for them to provide briefs on the set of challenges to FCC net neutrality rules.
- Firms will need to provide their opening briefs (20,000 words or fewer) by July 30, meaning final briefs will be due Oct. 13, and oral argument could begin by year's end.
- The disputes now are largely around Title II reclassification (Internet access as a utility) and interconnection, rather than bans on blocking/throttling or paid prioritization.
- Represented/related companies: VZ, TMUS, S, CMCSA, CHTR, TWC, CVC, CTL, FTR, CCOI, DISH, DTV
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