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The Walt Disney Company (DIS)

  • Today, 8:21 AM
    • Fancy Nancy lands a major TV deal with Disney (NYSE:DIS) that could set up the book series to be the next big franchise.
    • Disney Junior says its will produce a TV movie, weekly show, and develop consumer products around the sassy young girl.
    • Big-screen movies could follow.
    • HarperCollins (NASDAQ:NWS) owns some of the rights to Fancy Nancy.
  • Wed, Mar. 25, 1:43 PM
    • ESPN would have to charge $36.30 per subscriber in an a la carte world to keep its margins level, according to some number-crunching from MoffettNathanson.
    • Sports-heavy TNT would have to charge $8.95 a sub under the same scenario.
    • Most analysts agree that live sports programming has the best chance at pulling in lush pricing, but not at the levels indicated by the MoffettNathanson analysis.
    • The threat to revenue from a cable world unbundled could be one reason Disney (DIS -1.6%) and Time Warner (TWX -0.9%) appear to be dabbling with direct sports programming on demand .
    • Previously: NBA commissioner to announce new rights deals with Disney, Time Warner today (Oct. 06 2014)
    • Previously: ESPN to dabble with a la carte soccer package (May. 27 2014)
  • Tue, Mar. 24, 4:31 AM
    • Opening up a new door for the sports-media industry, the NFL has announced it would test placing one football game this season on a national digital platform and not on national television, as a trial effort to understand the market for digital rights.
    • In another sweeping change, the league has decided to scrap its controversial blackout rule, which prohibits local broadcasts of games if they aren't sold out 72 hours before kickoff, for the 2015 season.
    • Related tickers: CBS, FOXA, CMCSA, DIS, DTV
  • Mon, Mar. 23, 3:48 PM
    • Dystopian-teen movie Insurgent (LGF +0.2%) led the box office for the weekend, logging $54M to pass a still-strong Cinderella (NYSE:DIS) with $34.5M.
    • Insurgent -- the second adaptation from a Veronica Roth book series -- drew slightly less than the year-ago first film, Divergent -- a mild disappointment for Lions Gate, which plans two more films to close out the book trilogy, though the studio notes a lack of upcoming teenage-girl competition as promising.
    • Aside from the female-driven leaders, receipts were disappointing. The Gunman, starring Sean Penn, limped to $5M to finish fourth, just ahead of six-week veteran Kingsman: The Secret Service, (NASDAQ:FOXA) which has earned $114.6M in its run.
    • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (VIA, VIAB) took the last spot in the top 10 in its seventh week with $2.4M (total gross: $158.8M).
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  • Wed, Mar. 18, 1:39 PM
    • Sony (SNE +3.9%) has launched its PlayStation Vue streaming video service in three cities, with a starting price of $50/month
    • It's been testing the service since November and had planned to launch this month in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia for PlayStation 3 and 4 users, though the price and lineup were open (and vital) questions. The service will spread to other cities and to iPads soon.
    • Overall the service features more than 85 channels, though the $50 package has some 50 stations and $60/month and $70/month packages add local sports and music/lifestyle/family channels respectively.
    • The lineup features content from three of the big four (CBS, Fox, NBC) as well as stations from Discovery, Scripps, Turner and Viacom. AMC content will join from April.
    • Disney (NYSE:DIS) -- and its popular content from ABC, ESPN and Disney cable -- is still a glaring omission. Sony VP Eric Lempel says more content deals are in progress.
    • The interface features time-shifting for the last three days of "popular programming," which might give it a leg up on Sling TV's (NASDAQ:DISH) limited capability there.
    • The price is raising eyebrows, as it's competing with Sling TV's $20/month price point (but with more content). "Sony has built the Cadillac plan of Internet TV: It's big, it's shiny and it's expensive," says Jason Abbruzzese.
    • Previously: Report: Sony talking with Disney about PlayStation Vue inclusion (Feb. 10 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.
  • Mon, Mar. 16, 5:18 PM
    • Disney's (DIS +0.9%) Cinderella had its box office figure revised down to $67.9M, a slightly bigger adjustment than usual, but still leaving enough for a runaway win for the weekend.
    • It does mean that Cinderella's debut wasn't quite as good as last year's live-action Maleficent, which pulled $69.4M -- though that film had Angelina Jolie star power working for it.
    • BTIG downgraded Disney, to Neutral from Buy -- but mainly on valuation concerns, as analyst Richard Greenfield sees more upside elsewhere, such as in Netflix. Of Disney: "Even off of 2017, you're now approaching pretty high-teens multiples for earnings ... It's just harder to see how this is a $130-$140 stock." Disney closed today at $107.37.
    • Disney used Cinderella's momentum to set its next live-action adaptation, Beauty and the Beast, for March 17, 2017. The film will star Emma Watson (Harry Potter's Hermione) as Belle and Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens as the Beast. Kevin Kline and Emma Thompson have other roles, Bill Condon will direct, and Alan Menken (veteran of the animated film) will create new songs.
  • Mon, Mar. 16, 11:25 AM
    • Disney's (NYSE:DIS) live-action Cinderella reinvigorated a lackluster box office, taking a runaway lead with $70.1M to claim the domestic crown, and pulling a huge $132M worldwide, including $25M from China.
    • Cinderella far outpaced the week's other debut film -- Run All Night (NYSE:TWX), starring Liam Neeson, which drew $11.1M to hold off Kingsman: The Secret Service (NASDAQ:FOXA) at $6.2M. In its fifth week, Kingsman has drawn $107.4M total for Fox.
    • Will Smith in Focus (TWX) was No. 4 with $5.81M and South African robot sci-fi Chappie (NYSE:SNE) rounded out the top five with $5.8M. Still in the top 10 are hits The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (VIA, VIAB) at No. 7 with $4.1M ($154.7M total) and American Sniper (TWX), No. 9 with $2.93M ($341.5M total).
    • The success of Cinderella may be quite timely for Disney, which is already planning development on live-action versions of Dumbo and Beauty and the Beast, as well as The Jungle Book.
    • Previously: Global box office: 2014 boosted by Asia's moviegoers, especially in China (Mar. 12 2015)
  • 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 (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, 6:26 PM
    • A third Anaheim park is likely out for Disney (NYSE:DIS), but expanding Disneyland is still likely, CEO Robert Iger told shareholders.
    • Many shareholders have expected a third park to join Disneyland and Disney California Adventure for more than a decade.
    • Meantime, Iger confirmed (via an inadvertent answer to a child questioner) that Hollywood Studios, at Walt Disney World in Florida, would be changing names again. It used to be MGM Studios.
    • There's a very good chance, then, that either (or both) of the expanded Disneyland and new Hollywood Studios will be set around Disney's high-profile recent branding efforts: Marvel and/or Star Wars.
  • 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)
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  • Thu, Mar. 12, 6:17 PM
    • Disney (DIS +4.2%) thrilled shareholders at its annual meeting with movie news about some of its most valuable recent properties. The company filled in details on its high-expectations Star Wars plans: After the seventh core film coming out this December, Star Wars: Episode VIII will come out May 26, 2017, and be written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper).
    • The first spinoff film will be called Rogue One, star recent Oscar nominee Felicity Jones and come out in December 2016.
    • A confirmation that Frozen 2 is on the way should mean another ringing of the box-office registers. The first film grossed more than $1B globally.
    • Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) -- with a line of Frozen merchandise -- finished today up 4.2%; Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS), which will sell related dolls next year, finished up 1.3%.
    • In preliminary votes, all 10 on Disney's board won re-election, and shareholders supported the vote on executive compensation.
    • Shareholders agreed with the board in rejecting a proposal regarding selecting an independent board chairman.
    • Previously: Gathering for annual meeting, Disney up 2.9% (Mar. 12 2015)
  • Thu, Mar. 12, 11:39 AM
    • Disney (NYSE:DIS) is up +2.9% as it kicks off its annual meeting in San Francisco, flush with recent success in earnings and building momentum around its media properties.
    • The stock's on the move following CEO Bob Iger's appearance on Mad Money last night: "The most bullish I've seen him," says host Jim Cramer, pointing to developments in Star Wars and Marvel films, including a highly anticipated Avengers sequel opening May 1, not to mention a live-action Cinderella coming this weekend.
    • "Tentpole, tentpole, tentpole, tentpole -- they have so many brands, they remind me of Procter & Gamble 20 years ago," Cramer says.
    • Iger spoke about park technology investments, including a wristband that serves as an attraction ticket that also lets visitors make reservations for rides, and expressed optimism about next year's park opening in Shanghai.
    • Among his "5 things to watch," Mark Calvey notes shareholders looking for any sign of a split, and a tough vote on splitting the Chairman/CEO roles.
    • The new Cinderella film is expected to lead the box office and should get a boost from a seven-minute short featuring another Disney cash cow brand, Frozen.
  • 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.
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Company Description
Walt Disney Co, together with its subsidiaries, is a diversified entertainment company with operations in five business segments: Media Networks, Parks and Resorts, Studio Entertainment, Consumer Products and Interactive.