Mon, Oct. 5, 6:56 PM
- Video streamer Hulu isn't planning any international expansion for now, despite taking a look at new markets, says CEO Mike Hopkins.
- That's a contrast from competitor Netflix, which has been shifting marketing dollars to global markets and targeting heavy international growth, with the U.S. making up two-third of subscribers. "For most global Internet firms, the U.S. is 20%-35% of usage and revenue; we're not anywhere close to that yet but we're continuing to invest in international," Reed Hastings said earlier this year.
- Hopkins also thinks the standard programming bundle will stick around "for years to come" and that over-the-top services are additive, not substitute goods, for now.
- Speaking at an industry conference in Cannes, France, Hopkins added that Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +2%), Disney (DIS +0.8%) and Fox (FOXA +1.1%) -- is still looking for its signature original hit: “We’re looking for that defining show,” he says, noting that Mad Men and South Park changed AMC and Comedy Central.
Tue, Sep. 29, 7:07 PM
- Streaming video service Hulu has made many changes to its model over the past year -- shifting heavily toward its paid service and aggressively moving into original programming -- though its recent move, to create an ad-free tier, raised eyebrows as observers compared its $11.99/month level directly with competitors like Netflix.
- The tier is off to a good start, though, says CEO Mike Hopkins, who suggests that it's winning over people who wouldn't have considered Hulu otherwise: "So far, so good."
- Speaking at an IAB ad conference, Hopkins says internal data showed a "big chunk" of potential users wouldn't join due to the ads, while another set points to the ads as a reason for cancellation.
- Users "like advertising if it’s the right advertising at the right time,” Hopkins said, acknowledging the ad-free tier isn't a big group of subscribers at the moment.
- Along with the ad-free level, Hulu began selling a "limited" commercial tier at $7.99/month.
- Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +0.6%), Disney (DIS +0.9%) and Fox (FOXA +2.4%) -- has as its ongoing goals personalizing the product further and adding more programming (TV and film) to draw and keep users.
- Previously: Hulu launches higher-priced ad-free subscription tier (Sep. 02 2015)
Mon, Sep. 28, 7:05 PM
- An eighth entry in the Fast and the Furious franchise that Vin Diesel leaked would come out April 14, 2017 is reportedly having trouble finding a director, but that hasn't slowed Diesel's roll, as he tripled down on the earlier pronouncement.
- The actor will produce a final trilogy of films to wrap the series, he said.
- “Universal has been so good to me and so trusting of the vision," he wrote in a post. "They have been like family ... I promised the studio I would deliver one last trilogy to end the saga."
- Furious 7, part of a banner year for Universal Pictures (CMCSA -3.1%), this year became the fifth-highest grossing film (global) of all time, with $351M in domestic grosses and a total of $1.51B in worldwide.
- Diesel waved away rumors about any issue with the next film. “To be clear, NO ONE has been offered to helm Fast 8 yet ... let alone seen a script.”
- Previously: Universal smashes international box office record (Aug. 24 2015)
- Previously: 'Furious 7' leads box office for fourth week (Apr. 27 2015)
Mon, Sep. 28, 10:55 AM
- Hotel Transylvania 2 nailed a much-needed win for Sony Pictures (SNE -4.1%), grossing $47.5M to set a September opening record and lead the box office over the weekend.
- The film broke its predecessor's record and easily outpaced The Intern (TWX -1.3%), which drew $18.2M as the other key debut of the week.
- It's Sony's biggest opening since early summer 2014, when 22 Jump Street opened with $57M.
- Among second-week holdovers, an expanded release for Everest (CMCSA -1.4%) didn't quite catch up to Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (FOX -0.8%, FOXA -0.9%), which took $14M and the No. 3 spot to Everest's $13.1M. Black Mass (NYSE:TWX) took $11.5M for the No. 5 spot.
- Drug-war story Sicario scored a light $1.8M in its second week for Lions Gate (LGF -2.1%), but with an impressive per-screen average as the film opened in just six theaters and moved to 59 over the weekend. It goes wide next weekend.
Fri, Sep. 18, 5:43 PM
- Along with delivering expectations of strong customer growth, T-Mobile (TMUS -1.5%) CEO John Legere said the company would aggressively take part in the upcoming broadcast incentive spectrum auction.
- Legere also didn't disappoint when it came to talking down competitors, predicting failure for Verizon's (VZ -1.4%) freshly launching mobile video service.
- "I do think this Go90 could be the biggest debacle," he said at Goldman Sachs' Communacopia. "I mean it's right up there with the Amazon Fire phone, the Facebook phone, you remember that?"
- Another Legere trademark: Opining on consolidation that could include T-Mobile. "You really believe that the Comcast (CMCSA -1.8%) future in wireless is to be an MVNO with Verizon? I mean, give me a break. ... The timing of when the cable players come into the wireless phase — it's purely determined by who blinks first."
- Previously: T-Mobile up as Legere sees 'significant' Q3 customer growth (Sep. 18 2015)
- Previously: Verizon's McAdam: Earnings plateau in 2016, then off to races (Sep. 17 2015)
- Previously: Verizon rolling out Go90 video service in beta program (Sep. 08 2015)
Thu, Sep. 17, 9:00 PM
- MSG Networks (NYSE:MSGN) -- the upcoming media result of the spin-off at Madison Square Garden (MSG +2.2%) -- began trading on a when-issued basis today at the NYSE, as did the "new MSG."
- On Sept. 30, each MSG common stockholder will get one share of "new MSG" for every three of the current MSG they own. Class A stockholders will receive class A, and likewise with class B.
- Analysts at BTIG have set a price target of $240 for "new MSG" and of $30 for MSG Networks -- the latter based on a multiple of 15 times estimated 2016 free cash flow/share of $2.03. And BTIG's Brandon Ross has said that it gets more valuable when you consider a likely takeout by hungry competing regional sports net holders: Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) or Fox (FOX, FOXA).
- In an update, Ross says he very much believes the Dolans want to sell the media company to eventually buy into new MSG, and focus there.
- An exit from the cable side seems to fit not only James Dolan's personality but also the fresh news that the family's selling Cablevision to France's Altice.
- For its part, MSG has two underappreciated opportunities to raise value, Ross says: increasing nights filled in venues (though venues may need some investment), and increasing per caps.
- Previously: MSG names leadership for media spin-off (Sep. 11 2015)
- Previously: MSG split may mean key M&A for Comcast, Fox (Apr. 02 2015)
Thu, Sep. 17, 11:11 AM
- Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) is up 15.3%, hitting highs it hasn't seen in more than four years, in the wake of its $17.7B deal to be acquired by France's Altice (OTCPK:ATCEY).
- Shares are trading at $32.90 against Altice's $34.90/share proposal, though analysts are sounding off largely in consensus that there shouldn't be any regulatory issues with the deal. Altice was up nearly 13% in Amsterdam, but has settled down to a gain of 0.8%.
- Most analysts rate Cablevision a Hold. The combination doesn't surprise Pivotal's Jeff Wlodarczak, but the price does a bit, considering a willing seller and Altice likely the only bidder; he expected a $32.50/share deal.
- Wunderlich's Matthew Harrigan was surprised the sale happened with this FCC in place; he expected a deal after a new administration, perhaps to Liberty's John Malone or Charter's (and formerly Cablevision's) Tom Rutledge.
- Michael McCormack at Jefferies thinks Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) or Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR) could look at getting into the bidding for Cablevision. He says a synergy target of $900M "looks aggressive" and implies some best-in-class margins.
- Overall, analysts are taking Altice's Patrick Drahi at his word: The company probably isn't done expanding in the U.S. Likely targets could be any number of telecom assets, including private players like Cox or Mediacom, or CLECs.
Mon, Sep. 14, 1:37 PM
- A thrills-and-chills face-off at the box office ended with The Perfect Guy narrowly edging The Visit, but with both films well outperforming projections.
- ScreenGems' (SNE -1.1%) The Perfect Guy drew $26.7M against The Visit, a bit of a comeback from M. Night Shyamalan, which pulled $25.7M -- both well above an expected $15M-$17M each.
- Sony's War Room continued its surprising run, drawing $7.4M to finish third and likely overshadowing the debut of another faith-based film, 90 Minutes in Heaven. War Room, from the company's Affirm label, has grossed $39.2M in three weeks.
- In continuing-film strength, Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation (VIA -0.9%, VIAB -1.2%) was fifth, grossing $4.2M to bring its seven-week total to $188.2M, and Straight Outta Compton (CMCSA -0.9%) was sixth, adding $4.1M to its five-week cumulative run of $155.7M.
Tue, Sep. 8, 3:28 PM
- Christian film War Room (SNE +1.3%) prevailed in holiday-weekend box office, preventing Straight Outta Compton (CMCSA +1.8%) from ruling for a fourth straight week as few moviegoers left end-of-summer gatherings to hit up theaters.
- War Room grossed $12.6M over the four days ($9.45M in three), benefiting from one of the slowest Labor Day weekends at the box office in a decade and outpacing Compton's $11.1M ($8.85M for the three days). It's nonetheless proving a surprising faith-based hit for Sony's Affirm unit.
- New films failed to boost totals. A Walk in the Woods and The Transporter Refueled drew $10.3M and $9M in third and fifth place respectively for the four days.
- Compton has earned just under $150M in four weeks, while Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (VIA +1%, VIAB +1.5%), in fourth at the holiday box office, has grossed over $180M domestically in six weeks.
Wed, Aug. 26, 4:11 PM
- Comcast (CMCSA +2.9%) is taking proposals for two substantially Hispanic American-owned networks that it plans to launch by Jan. 28, 2017 -- part of a commitment it agreed to as part of its NBCUniversal purchase in 2011.
- The company promised to launch 10 independent networks by 2019 as part of public-interest commitments it made for the NBCU deal. Of the 10, two were to be operated by Hispanic American programmers and two to be substantially Hispanic American-owned.
- Since the NBCU deal was completed, five independent networks have rolled out, including Revolt TV (with music figure Sean Combs), El Rey (partnered with director Robert Rodriguez and Univision) and Aspire (with Magic Johnson).
- Proposals are due Oct. 9 and the two new networks will be selected in following months.
Tue, Aug. 25, 1:14 PM
- Making its first trip into automated ad sales, streaming video service Hulu is setting up a private ad exchange that will let brands combine their data with Hulu's information on viewership to find the right audience.
- The new exchange will run on Facebook's LiveRail technology, and indeed could make buying Hulu ads more like buying ads on Facebook or other Web services.
- It's "a bit of a watershed for the premium video-on-demand space," says Hulu's Peter Naylor, who says the sales force won't be left out: "I'm going to enable my grown-up sales force who sell sponsorships to also sell programmatically. We're not going to put programmatic in a silo."
- Hulu - co-owned by NBCUniversal (CMCSA +1.6%), Disney (DIS +3.6%) and Fox (FOXA +2.4%) - will make all of its ad inventory available through the exchange, with the exception (for now) of high-end sales like show-specific sponsorships.
Mon, Aug. 24, 3:24 PM
- With the help of its reanimated dinosaurs and furiously fast cars (and a couple of other top-five performers), Universal Pictures (CMCSA -4.6%) has set the international box-office record, with $3.78B and counting.
- That passes Fox's 2014 record of $3.73B, with just over four months left in the year. The studio has had four top openings internationally, and its 10 weeks at the top overseas lead all studios.
- It's got four of 2015's top five international draws: No. 1 Furious 7 ($1.162M); No. 2 Jurassic World ($983.5M); No. 4 Minions ($670.2M) and No. 5 Fifty Shades of Grey ($404.1M).
- Minions was still in the international top 10 this weekend with $12.5M. Furious 7 is the fifth-highest-grossing worldwide film ever.
- Previously: 'Compton' still good for top spot with box office -7% Y/Y (Aug. 24 2015)
- Previously: Disney, Comcast enjoying summer of (box-office) love (Aug. 20 2015)
- Previously: 2015 box office: Universal 138% ahead of 2014 pace with $1.38B home grosses (Jul. 04 2015)
Mon, Aug. 24, 1:32 PM
- With summer winding down, box office this weekend was down about 7% Y/Y with a lackluster set of new releases. But Universal's N.W.A picture Straight Outta Compton (NASDAQ:CMCSA) scored again, grossing $26.8M to bring its two-week total to $111.5M despite increasing press mentions charging the film with whitewashing the group's treatment of women.
- Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation (VIA, VIAB) took second place with $11.7M, bringing its four-week total to $157.8M. The new entries followed: Sinister 2 (CMCSA) in third with $10.6M; videogame convert Hitman: Agent 47 (FOX, FOXA) in fourth with $8.2M, and American Ultra (NYSE:LGF) sixth with $5.5M.
- In international markets, Terminator: Genisys (VIA, VIAB) is putting on a rebound, taking the top spot due to a big bow in China. The film has drawn just $89M domestically, but its worldwide total is $353M thanks to foreign markets. It was the fourth-best opening ever for a U.S. film in China.
- Stock movements among film producers have a heavy effect from today's market melt: CMCSA -1.5%; VIA +0.6%; VIAB -0.9%; FOX -2.2%; FOXA -1.9%; LGF -2.3%.
Thu, Aug. 20, 3:39 PM
- The Weather Channel is hoping some buyer can make it rain, as it's reportedly hired J.P. Morgan and PJT Partners to seek a sale for up to $3B.
- The network -- owned in part by NBCUniversal (CMCSA -2.2%) along with Bain Capital and Blackstone (NYSE:BX) -- could sell as a whole or in parts. The digital pieces (websites, Weather Underground and several B2B sites) might be the most valuable.
- The 2008 deal to purchase the company was valued at $3.5B. It reportedly began interviewing banks last year.
- In its second-quarter earnings, Comcast said its net income included $252M of equity in net losses of investees resulting from its proportionate share of an impairment loss at The Weather Channel.
- Previously: Dish signs multi-year deal with Weather Channel, including Sling TV (Apr. 21 2015)
- Previously: Carriage dispute drops Weather Channel from Verizon FiOS (Mar. 10 2015)
- Previously: Weather Channel reportedly mulling strategic options (Sep. 12 2014)
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, 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.
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