Thu, Jul. 23, 11:18 PM
- As six Hollywood studios fell into the crosshairs of Europe's regulators -- who filed formal antitrust charges today related to pay TV access -- Disney (NYSE:DIS), for one, promised a vigorous fight.
- Responses were more straightforward, or absent, among the other targets: NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Paramount Pictures (VIA, VIAB), Sony Pictures Entertainment (NYSE:SNE), 20th Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) and Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX).
- Along with Sky UK (OTCQX:SKYAY), the six are charged with creating improper licensing deals that prohibited viewers outside the UK and Ireland from accessing paid Sky programming, blocking much of Europe from watching U.S. films and TV.
- "The impact of the commission’s analysis is destructive of consumer value and we will oppose the proposed action vigorously," said a Disney spokesperson.
- The charges are the result of 18 months' investigation by the European Commission. They may not stop at Sky, as investigations are ongoing into pay TV providers in Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Geographic limitations on digital viewing is seen to be holding back the unity of a fragmented European market.
- The bottom line: The EU could fine companies up to 10% of global annual revenue.
- Today: DIS -0.5%; CMCSA -3.2%; VIA -0.7%; VIAB -0.3%; SNE +2.9%; FOX -1.4%; FOXA -1.4%; TWX -1.2%; OTCQX:SKYAY -1.7%.
Mon, Jul. 20, 12:11 PM
- Ant-Man may have been small for a Marvel (DIS +0.5%) project, but it loomed large at the box office with a weekend-leading $58M to mark Marvel's 12th straight first-place debut.
- The film had been projected for $60M-$65M and came in just short of that; the catch may be its relatively high $130M production budget.
- Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck pulled a strong $30.2M, vs. an expected $20M, to take the No. 3 spot for Universal (CMCSA +0.1%), and assured that Disney and Comcast would have the weekend's top five films: Minions (NASDAQ:CMCSA) had a (relatively) good falloff to $50.2M to finish No. 2, Inside Out (NYSE:DIS) took fourth with $11.7M, bringing its five-week take to $306.4M, and fifth-place Jurassic World (CMCSA) took $11.4M to become only the fourth film to top $600M domestically.
- Trainwreck marks the second-biggest opening for its director, Judd Apatow, behind the $30.7M of Knocked Up. In contrast with Marvel's film, it cost just $35M to make.
Fri, Jul. 17, 8:27 PM
- Miramax, the studio home for prestige films founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, is looking for a buyer in a sale it hopes will draw $1B, Bloomberg reports.
- Investment is coming back to the film sector in a rebound year for movies, and studio owners Colony Capital and Qatar Holding are betting that content-hungry distributors will take an interest in an award-heavy film library, including Oscar winners like Shakespeare in Love, Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting.
- Colony Capital and the Qatar sovereign wealth fund were among the group that bought Miramax from Disney for $660M five years ago.
- Potential buyers? That could include content-acquisitive streaming services like Hulu (CMCSA, DIS, FOXA), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) or Amazon.com's Instant Video (NASDAQ:AMZN), or studios like MGM or oft-rumored buyer Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF), says Variety's James Rainey. A price of $1B is too steep for some of them, but with low information, it's tough to put a solid value on Miramax.
Fri, Jul. 17, 2:11 AM
- Hulu is exploring plans to add an advertising-free option to its service, sources told the WSJ, as the streaming video provider tries to become a stronger rival to Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).
- The new service could launch as early as this fall and be priced at around $12-$14 a month.
- Although Hulu - co-owned by NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) - remains small compared to Netflix, its paying subscriber base is now around 9M, up from 6M last year. Netflix on Wednesday reported that it had 65M global subscribers.
Thu, Jul. 16, 6:16 PM
- Moving ESPN's Espys Awards to a full ABC time slot paid dividends for Disney (NYSE:DIS), as the glitzy broadcast -- headlined by Caitlyn Jenner winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award -- was the top rated and most watched show among the big networks last night, and doubled viewership Y/Y in the 18-49 demographic.
- Ratings among overall viewers more than tripled, to 6.0 from 8-11 p.m., from last year's 1.7 on ESPN.
- ESPN will expand NBA coverage in the coming year by adding Saturday night games on ABC, to debut in January. ESPN on ABC will have weekly prime-time games starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.
- This follows ABC logging a big NBA finals victory in June, with its best-rated Finals and an estimated $224M in ad sales.
- Meanwhile, ESPN President John Skipper is saying adieu to another personality leaving the network, as Colin Cowherd departs, likely for Fox Sports. That follows the departures of Keith Olbermann (for the second time, when his contract expires in July) and Grantland editor Bill Simmons.
- Previously: ABC draws estimated $224M in NBA Finals ad sales (Jun. 17 2015)
Thu, Jul. 16, 4:40 PM
- A surprising district court ruling goes against big broadcast networks, and could produce an unexpected outcome after a similar case shut down TV streamer Aereo a year ago.
- Judge George Wu ruled in favor of small streaming company FilmOn, saying it may be entitled to a compulsory license of programming made by big broadcasters including CBS, ABC (NYSE:DIS), NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Fox (FOX, FOXA). That could mean a major disruption of broadcast revenues as well as the broadcasters' steps into over-the-top streaming.
- The case turns on Section 111 of the Copyright Act. Similar arguments had been rejected in the previous case of TV streamer Ivi, as well as Aereo. Judge Wu acknowledged the prior case but said he disagreed with it.
- Wu is allowing for an immediate Circuit Court appeal, and is maintaining an injunction against FilmOn in the meantime. If it stands, however, it paves the way to tech-neutral treatment of an OTT distributor the same way a cable company is treated in terms of retransmitting copyrighted works.
- Previously: Aereo parted out for peanuts in $2M bankruptcy auction (Feb. 26 2015)
- Previously: Media disrupter Aereo files for bankruptcy (Nov. 21 2014)
Thu, Jul. 16, 3:31 PM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is up 0.6% and painting another all-time high today as investors absorb details about the company's multibillion-dollar Shanghai project, and as Disney sets its next plan to go to the live-action well: It will develop Genies, a prequel to 1992 animated feature Aladdin.
- The film will focus on a genie trapped in Aladdin's lamp. Producing will be Tripp Vinson, known for production work on San Andreas and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.
- The 1992 Aladdin, which starred Robin Williams as the film's large blue genie, grossed $217.4M at home and an overall total of $504M worldwide, on a production budget of about $28M.
- Following success with Maleficent and Cinderella, the studio has several live-action reworks of animated films in the pipeline, including Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, Mulan and Dumbo.
- Previously: Disney's Iger 'not concerned' with China turmoil as Shanghai plans progress (Jul. 15 2015)
Wed, Jul. 15, 6:28 PM
- With Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) ambitious plans for a huge Shanghai resort coming into focus, Chairman and CEO Bob Iger says he's not concerned about a very turbulent Chinese economy and he's "extremely bullish" long term.
- "We build things to last many years," he told CNBC. "Disneyland was built 60 years ago and has been through the ups and downs of the U.S. economy for six decades."
- The $5.5B project will include six "themed lands" -- Fantasyland, Treasure Cove, Adventure Isle, Tomorrowland, Mickey Avenue and Gardens of Imagination -- as well as an outsized castle anchoring the park. Compared with previous worldwide rollouts, Shanghai Disneyland will be on the bigger side and hold more lodging.
- Despite stock-market volatility, Beijing has been pushing for consumer-led growth, and the new park will be within a three-hour drive of 330M potential visitors as the country's middle class is booming.
- Disney shares, up 0.4% today, touched another all-time high intraday.
- Previously: Inside Shanghai: Disney customizing park for Chinese families (Jul. 09 2015)
Tue, Jul. 14, 4:30 PM
- Shark Week delivered as promised for the Discovery Channel (DISCA +1.4%), leading the network to first place among primetime cable offerings last week.
- The channel averaged 2.46M viewers, a little above 2014's Shark Week total of 2.4M, along with some small gains in the adults 25-54 demographic.
- Disney Channel (NYSE:DIS) and Fox News (FOX, FOXA) tied for second with 1.6M average viewers, followed by USA Network, TNT and HGTV.
- On a 24-hour basis, Disney surpassed Discovery in overall viewers, both just ahead of the usual suspects (Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Adult Swim). Discovery won the demo on a round-the-clock basis, though.
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.
Fri, Jul. 10, 3:05 PM
- Walt Disney (DIS +0.9%) is still JPMorgan's top pick in Media, with strong earnings and a consistent content strategy.
- Even after accounting for weakness from the performance of Tomorrowland (assuming a $100M hit from the expensive production), Alexia Quadrani sees "earnings strength elsewhere across the company – including Consumer Products, Parks and Media Networks – and see upside potential to our $1.40 EPS for FQ3."
- The team pointed to "unrivaled" global content, especially as it monetizes Star Wars (including consumer products ramping up to the December opening) and Shanghai Disneyland's spring opening.
- Disney shares have been hovering this week around Tuesday's all-time high close of $117.09; it's currently trading at $116.64.
- Analyst consensus has expectations of FQ3 EPS at $1.42, according to CapitalIQ -- just above JPMorgan's take.
- Previously: Inside Shanghai: Disney customizing park for Chinese families (Jul. 09 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, 7:48 PM
- Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) $5.5B Shanghai resort -- its largest foreign investment ever -- is coming together with some distinct differences from previous parks, primarily a laser-like focus on Chinese culture at a place where adult visitors may outnumber children four to one.
- That's in part due to extended families traveling together, along with China's one-child policy that has crimped birth rates. The park adjusts seating, restaurants, viewing spaces and other adult hangouts accordingly.
- “We’re building something that’s authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese," Chairman Robert Iger says. Shanghai Disneyland is set to open next spring, within a three-hour drive of 330M potential visitors.
- The castle that will anchor the Shanghai park will be the biggest out of six, and topped off with a golden peony, beloved by the Chinese.
- It's no slam dunk -- competition is heavy with the number of amusement parks in China set to rise to 850 this year (up 40% from 2006) -- but Disney says it's learning from past mistakes. After being dinged for food choice and the small size of parks and lodging in Paris and Hong Kong, Disney's counting on heavy local food inclusion, and an upsized park with at least 1,220 rooms on site.
- Previously: Disney up 2.5% early as network, park strength lead Q2 beat (May. 05 2015)
Wed, Jul. 8, 3:21 PM
- Nomura says some tough comps are coming next month for Disney (DIS -1.3%), even if it still likes the stock overall.
- Last year's Q3 (ending in August) benefited from World Cup ad dollars, and consumer products are likely to be skewed to Q4 this year with Star Wars events coming in September and beyond, note analysts Anthony DiClemente and Benjamin Black.
- The two lowered their Q3 EPS estimate to $1.39, from $1.44 (vs. a consensus of $1.43). Their full-year forecast is unchanged and Nomura's price target on the stock of $125 implies an 8% upside from today's price.
- Frozen makes for tough comparisons both in consumer products and considering its Q3 international home entertainment release last year. And the pair expects that despite the success of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Inside Out, "given the soft Tomorrowland box office showing, we now expect the Frozen comp to more than offset theatrical. As such, we are lowering our F3Q15E Studio OI growth estimate to -19% YoY."
- Previously: Disney wins tax break in exchange for $1B theme park investment (Jul. 08 2015)
- Previously: Disney starts Playmation toy demos, preorders; stock at record high (Jul. 07 2015)
- Previously: 'Tomorrowland' leads a weaker holiday box office (May. 25 2015)
Wed, Jul. 8, 8:02 AM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) won a 30-year extension of a moratorium on ticket taxes in Anaheim, Calif., in exchange for a commitment to invest $1B in its two theme parks there.
- In a vote last night, the City Council granted DIS an exemption from any future entertainment tax that might be levied on tickets to Disneyland and California Adventure.
- The theme parks provide more than half of Anaheim’s general fund revenue - $148M annually in hotel, sales, property and business license taxes.
DIS vs. ETF Alternatives
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.
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