Mon, Feb. 2, 4:46 PM
- The big game ratings news was in this morning, but now NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) can say it showed the most-watched television program in U.S. history: 114.4M people tuned in to the 49th Super Bowl.
- That's up 2.2M viewers from the previous high: last year's game between Seattle and Denver.
- The Blacklist's postgame 8.7 rating was good for 26.5M viewers and NBC's most-watched scripted show in more than 10 years.
- Viewership actually swelled to a peak at 120.8 million viewers from 9:45-10 p.m. ET during the fourth quarter.
Mon, Feb. 2, 4:19 PM
- Speculation about how hard the FCC would come with new regulations on "net neutrality" tilts toward "more aggressive" as sources tell the WSJ the agency is seeking a significant expansion of its authority.
- In summary, the changes would take mobile and fixed broadband firms (like T, TWC, VZ, CMCSA, CHTR, CVC, LBRDA) from being lightly regulated entities into a regulatory structure more like the traditional phone companies/telecoms, treating them more like public utilities.
- The upshot: A ban on "paid prioritization," where service providers block or slow access to some websites/destinations depending on payments.
- The rules would put interconnection (deals such as Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) arranges for content delivery) under Title II standards and the deals would be put to an "unjust/unreasonable" standard for evaluation.
Mon, Feb. 2, 3:48 PM
- Investors are getting nervier about Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) $45B deal for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), Maureen Farrell notes.
- TWC isn't just down nearly 10% YTD -- it's 10% below Comcast's offer value.
- The FCC's recent broadband redefinition changes anticompetitive concerns as well: Using the old definition, the two cablecos controlled some 35-40% of the market, but the new definition means controlling 57% of the market. Comcast could step away if regulators get too demanding.
- Both companies are showing optimism and extended the deal's "end date" to Aug. 12.
- Previously: TWC misses expectations as video subs continue exodus (Jan. 29 2015)
Mon, Feb. 2, 10:28 AM
- A close Super Bowl decided in the final 30 seconds made for TV ratings of 49.7, the game's highest ever overnight rating -- a boon to NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA).
- Last year's game (a blowout) drew a 47.6 rating, and 2013's pulled a 48.1, the record beaten by last night's game.
- As for the premium postgame program slot, The Blacklist pulled a 13.4 rating and also benefited from its return from winter hiatus. That's a 9% improvement over Fox's (NASDAQ:FOX) showing of New Girl in that slot last year.
- Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show rated 6.2, the best late-night postgame rating since 1998 and double the rating drawn by 2013's after-game Late Show With Craig Ferguson.
Sun, Feb. 1, 1:18 PM
- As with every network that embraces the ratings spike that the NFL's championship game brings, NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is hoping the Super Bowl will allow it to promote and boost key programming. This year's coveted earner of the postgame slot: James Spader-starring tentpole The Blacklist, followed by the postgame's Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon featuring game stars.
- Aside from the day's saturation programming (the six-hour pregame show is under way), expect heavy use of in-game commercial time to promote not only The Blacklist, but also singing-show success The Voice and the duo of Chicago Fire and Chicago PD.
- Last year, more than 112M people tuned in to the highest-rated TV program of all time. What about this year? NBC is expecting 115M: "There would be huge disappointment if we weren't the most watched show in the history of television after Super Bowl Sunday," says coordinating producer Fred Gaudelli.
- There's reason for good expectations; Super Bowl viewership has grown every year since 2005 except one: 2013. Ratings were down a bit for the two conference title games in January.
- NBC's newly record-priced ads took until the last minute to sell out, but sell out they did, and the network thinks a lot of casual fans will tune in to the game after heavy news coverage of the New England Patriots' deflated-balls controversy.
Fri, Jan. 30, 5:46 PM
- In non-auction FCC news, the agency will add rules that let it review terms for the Internet service interconnects that govern deals between providers and heavy bandwidth eaters -- particularly including Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).
- The move is a first blush of net-neutrality regulations to come.
- Producers like Netflix, Amazon.com and YouTube would prefer a ban on interconnect fees, while service providers (CMCSA, T, VZ) are arguing for no limit on negotiated fees.
- The rules are set for a Feb. 26 vote.
Thu, Jan. 29, 2:29 PM
- Regulators changed their definition of "broadband" Internet by setting it at download speeds of 25 Mbps or faster, in the face of opposition by Internet service providers.
- The move was a sharp increase from the previous definition of 4 Mbps and will likely affect how mergers and competition are viewed, and give steam to municipal broadband partnerships that states (and providers) often try to block.
- Using the new definition, nearly a fifth of Americans (and more than half in rural areas) lack access to broadband, compared to about 6% before.
- For one, Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC) CEO Rob Marcus said in today's earnings call: "I think that the notion of defining broadband at 25 Mbps is somewhat arbitrary and I'm not really sure what that is intended to mean. And really I don't anticipate that that has any practical implications for life going forward, or for the DOJ's analysis of the [Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA)] deal."
Thu, Jan. 29, 9:20 AM
- On Time Warner Cable's (NYSE:TWC) earnings conference call, the company waved off persistent attempts to get a hint of 2015 guidance due to the Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) deal. Capex of $4.1B in 2014 (up 28%) comprised "accelerated investment in TWC Maxx, improved customer experience and network expansion."
- Revenue growth was offset in part by increasing operating expenses of 2.8%, including increases in programming costs (up 4.7%), sales and marketing (business) costs, and technical operations (residential) costs.
- Q4 Free cash flow of $891M, up 15% Y/Y; full-year free cash flow of $2.35B is down about 10%.
- Previously: TWC misses expectations as video subs continue exodus (Jan. 29 2015)
- Previously: Time Warner Cable misses by $0.06, misses on revenue (Jan. 29 2015)
Thu, Jan. 29, 8:52 AM
- Time Warner Cable's (NYSE:TWC) earnings miss today comes as it continued to bleed off residential video customers, while business services revenues and ad revenues made up highlights of its revenue growth. Operating income up 4.5%.
- Subscriber breakdowns: Residential video customers net loss of 38K; Residential high-speed data net adds of 168K; residential voice net adds of 295K; residential triple play net adds of 273K. Total customer relationship net adds of 67K.
- Residential services revenue up on increased high-speed data revenue, offset by declines in video and voice.
- Business services revenue up mainly on high-speed data and voice customers as well as cell tower backhaul.
- No full-year guidance offered, given where TWC is with the ongoing Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) buyout.
- Q4 results
- Press release
Wed, Jan. 28, 7:43 PM
- With just days to spare before Sunday's Super Bowl, NBCUniversal (CMCSA -3.1%) says it's sold out of ad inventory for the big game, and will feature more than 70 national commercials.
- That's a little closer than they might have liked -- much later than last year's sellout, which Fox (NASDAQ:FOX) achieved almost two months beforehand -- but this year at a higher price, a record $4.5M average per 30-second spot, and record total dollar volume.
- Auto advertisers in particular had been objecting to the premium pricing over the past year. Fifteen "rookie" advertisers join the ranks in 2015.
- Pre-show and post-show ads (cheaper than during the game, but still dear) are sold out as well.
- The last time it broadcast the Super Bowl, in 2012, NBC sold out ads on Jan. 3 (for $3.5M/30-second spot), but had slightly more inventory this time around.
- Previously: Madison Avenue cautious with Super Bowl XLIX (Jan. 07 2015)
Wed, Jan. 28, 8:41 AM
- Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) CEO Greg Maffei says that the government will likely approve the giant media merger deals on the table -- Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) with Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), and AT&T (NYSE:T) with DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) -- but the key issue will be what the firms are forced to give up.
- "My bet would be that all those deals get done," Maffei tells CNBC. "What is the set of regulations or restrictions around them and what the acquiring companies have to agree to, that'll be the rub."
- Liberty's interest in Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) is on his mind: "Charter has been an acquirer, is going to continue to be an acquirer" -- and Charter will have room to make buys if Comcast ends up swallowing TWC.
- Previously: Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger review clock running again (Jan. 13 2015)
- Previously: DirecTV hiking prices ahead of AT&T deal's closing (Dec. 29 2014)
Thu, Jan. 22, 11:34 AM
- Early tracking show a $45M-$50M opening box office weekend for Fifty Shades of Grey.
- The Universal Pictures (NASDAQ:CMCSA) R-rated movie has a shot at being the number two Valdentine's Day weekend performer ever.
- The anticipated response from women to the movie is so strong that studios have shied away from programming against it.
- Universal is looking for the same response to Fifty Shades on the big screen as the book series struck when it blasted past all sales estimates and was cited positively in earnings reports from Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.
- Previously: Fifty Shades of Grey burning it up on Fandango (Jan. 16 2015)
Tue, Jan. 20, 8:08 AM| 1 Comment
Fri, Jan. 16, 9:15 AM
- Advance ticket sales for Fifty Shades of Grey are smashing records on Fandango.
- The Universal Pictures (NASDAQ:CMCSA) movie is on a pace to sell more advance tickets than other R-rated title and the most of any non-sequel since the first Hunger Games film.
- The erotic romance novel adaption is considered a bit of a risk by the studio with boundary-pushing storylines tough to push past the $100M box mark.
Thu, Jan. 15, 12:40 PM
- Barry Diller says there's no stretch left on pay-TV pricing as he dissects the influence of Amazon Prime (NASDAQ:AMZN) in the industry.
- He warns on the Prime model where adding subscribers for the company dwarfs concerns on viewership and advertising.
- By the sound of it, Diller isn't recommended staying long cable stocks (CMCSA, TWC, CHTR, CVC) or positive on programmers (SNI, CBS, AMCX, FOXA, VIA, VIAB, MSG, DIS) set to renegotiate carriage deals.
- CNBC interview (video)
- Previously: Woody Allen to direct series for Amazon Studios (Jan. 13)
- Previously: Amazon added over 10M new Prime users during holiday season (Dec. 26, 2014)
Wed, Jan. 14, 4:08 AM
- Building on his previous call for the FCC to regulate broadband service as a utility, President Obama will push the FCC today to overturn state laws that prevent cities from building their own broadband networks.
- The centerpiece of the initiative is a call for the FCC to pre-empt laws in 19 states that can prevent cities and localities from building their own high-speed broadband networks.
- FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has already indicated that he is strongly considering the move.
- Related Tickers: CMCSA, T, VZ, TWC, NFLX, CTL, CHTR, FTR, ELNK
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