Wed, Jun. 10, 10:58 PM
- For an over-the-top cord-cutting video upstart, Hulu's deals with old-line cord companies have been adding up.
- The streaming-video service has deals with seven cable companies at last count (many are small, but one is Cablevision (NYSE:CVC)) -- so starting this summer, those cableco customers will be able to see Hulu on their boxes like another channel, and the companies will share Hulu's revenues.
- For Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal, Disney and Fox (CMCSA, DIS, FOXA) -- it's a path to more subscribers, a measure where it's dominated by Netflix (which has 60M subscribers, to Hulu's 9M);
- "You want to fish where the fish are," Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins tells CNN's Brian Stelter.
- After thinking about a sale a couple of years ago, Hulu's corporate owners elected to embark on a strategy to build subscribers and its content library, and emphasize paid subs.
- Comcast would be a big catch, with its 20M cable households, and it's already a part owner of Hulu through NBCUniversal -- but putting the service on Comcast boxes is tricky due to the arrangements Comcast agreed to in acquiring a content company like NBCU.
Tue, Jun. 9, 3:48 PM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) gave a (small) hint at what its Frozen theme-park attraction might be like on a company blog today.
- The "Frozen Ever After" attraction is coming to Epcot Center in 2016 and will include aspects from the film including a Winter in Summer Celebration, Elsa's Ice Palace and the North Mountain, as well as characters like the Snowgies from the short-film follow-up Frozen Fever.
- As part of the work, Disney is expanding the exterior of the park's Norway Pavilion.
- The attraction is eagerly anticipated, combining two recent Disney strengths in Parks and Resorts performance (which grew revenues 6% to boost the company in Q2) along with Frozen, a blockbuster success that drew more than $400M in domestic grosses as well as a worldwide total of $1.27B (just at the box office, not added to home video or hundreds of millions in toy sales).
Mon, Jun. 8, 1:03 PM
- Melissa McCarthy's Spy (FOX, FOXA) took the box office crown in a flat summer weekend, edging out a still-strong San Andreas (NYSE:TWX), though moviegoers overall seem to be taking a break before a dinosaur-based tentpole next week.
- The Fox comedy marked $30M to lead film receipts, while San Andreas drew $26.44M to make a two-week haul of $92.16M.
- Spy has won over critics, which is more than can be said for the big-screen version of HBO's Entourage (TWX), which got a rough reception but still debuted to $17.81M with a mid-week release, $10.4M over the weekend, good for fourth.
- Low-budget horror Insidious: Chapter 3 pulled a strong $23M to take the third spot and marks the return of distributor Gramercy Pictures, part of Focus Features and ultimately owned by Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA).
- Among the longer-term releases adding to gains this week, Mad Max: Fury Road (TWX) has brought its domestic total to $130.8M, Pitch Perfect 2 (CMCSA) has logged $161M total, and Avengers: Age of Ultron (NYSE:DIS) bumped its total to $438M.
Wed, Jun. 3, 8:37 PM
- Among a series of media coverage launches today, Credit Suisse initiated Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) at Outperform with a $130 price target.
- Disney closed today up 0.4% to $111.19.
- Disney's multiple is supported by strong earnings momentum and improving returns, the analysts note.
- The company's properties set it up well for its online ecosystem: "Disney's content assets and unique exploitation model put the company in a strong position to benefit from consumption shifts to digital platforms."
- Key catalysts ahead, according to CS: the Star Wars sequel coming in December and the opening of Shanghai Disney in early 2016.
- Credit Suisse's Omar Sheikh expects Disney's full-2015 EPS to come in at $5, just under a CapitalIQ consensus of $5.03, on revenues of $52.88B (vs. consensus of $52.61B); and for fiscal 2016 EPS of $6.06 (vs. CapitalIQ consensus of $5.69) on revenues of $57.81B (vs. $56.388B).
Wed, Jun. 3, 3:50 PM
- Activision Blizzard (ATVI +1.6%) is extending its popular $3B Skylanders game/toy franchise -- with 20 vehicles.
- Skylanders Superchargers adds land, sky and sea vehicles to let players race through various terrain and environments along with 20 new characters. The game is out Sept. 20.
- Activision's getting increasing competition in this toys-to-life genre it pioneered, not only with Disney's Infinity (NYSE:DIS) and Nintendo's Amiibo (OTCPK:NTDOY), but also Lego, planning a game where players' real-life brick creations can be played inside the videogame.
- While Disney and Nintendo have a stable of characters to draw on, Activision may need new "hooks" (like vehicles) with each release since its characters are original creations.
- Activision reported that (including toys) Skylanders was the No. 1 console franchise and title globally in Q1 and outsold the No. 1 action figure line globally.
- Toys-to-life needs something new, though; trailing-12-months sales in the category grew just 2% in Q1 vs. 45% a year earlier.
Tue, Jun. 2, 4:58 PM
- Disney's (NYSE:DIS) latest line of toys marks a change from the status quo, as the company has designed them in-house rather than merely licensing out its media properties.
- The activity-oriented Playmation line features a package of high-tech wearables (and is initially centered on Marvel's Avengers, including an Iron Man glove).
- They're not Uncle Walt's playsets, though, using infrared, Bluetooth and motion sensors to operate together, with those from other children as well as action figures which will interact with the wearables. A companion app offers extra "missions," but no screens are required for play.
- The sets are up for pre-order in July and go on sale in October starting at $120. "Hulk Hands" will follow in November.
- Annual sales are being projected at $500M just from the Avengers-themed line, and surpassing $1B as it's expanded to Disney's other brands (get ready for Star Wars and Frozen Playmation toys coming over the next two years).
- Partner Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS) will make and distribute the line for Disney.
Tue, Jun. 2, 11:00 AM
- Youku Tudou (NYSE:YOKU) is up 9% in U.S. trading after announcing a partnership with Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) to become the exclusive online movie marketing platform in China for Marvel content.
- The market leader claims some 500M unique monthly users and says online marketing boosted Captain America: The Winter Soldier to nearly 800M yuan in China compared to 80M yuan for the franchise's previous film.
- The company adds that the trailers and Youku Original productions for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy have over 41M cumulative views, with over 15.8M combined movie VOD views on the Youku Tudou Platform.
- In the deal, Youku will "drive online marketing through promotion of trailers, online ticketing, live events and original programming dedicated to silver screen movies."
Mon, Jun. 1, 5:24 PM
- In a counterprogramming battle of Hawaiian romance against California disaster, it was the earthquake film that prevailed as San Andreas (NYSE:TWX) took the top spot at the weekend box office with $53.2M.
- The Dwayne Johnson-starring thriller passed Pitch Perfect 2 (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which drew $14.8M in its third week to hold second place.
- The highly anticipated Aloha (NYSE:SNE), directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams, tanked amid brutal reviews. It finished sixth with just $10M, the lowest opening this summer from a major studio.
- Worries that earthquake-prone Western states might skip San Andreas were unfounded; quite the opposite, a surprising 19 of the top-20 grossing theaters were in the San Francisco Bay area and greater Los Angeles. The film's audience also surprisingly skewed 51% female.
- Rounding out the top five, Tomorrowland (NYSE:DIS) was third with $13.8M; Mad Max: Fury Road (TWX) fourth with $13.6M, bringing its three-week domestic haul to $115.9M; and Avengers: Age of Ultron (DIS) was fifth with $10.9M. That film's pulled $427.1M domestically in five weeks, and its global take of $1.3B means it's passed Frozen to become the sixth-highest grossing film ever.
Mon, Jun. 1, 12:34 PM
- Disney's (DIS +1.1%) CFO, Jay Rasulo, is stepping down on June 30, the company says.
- The company hasn't mentioned a replacement and says it will name a new CFO at a later date, though the move likely removes a competitor -- and clears a path -- for Tom Staggs to eventually succeed Bob Iger as CEO.
- Rasulo will continue to serve as adviser to the company and help with transition to a new exec in the role.
- "Jay has been a valued colleague and friend, as well as a vital contributor to Disney's success, particularly in his roles as chief financial officer and chairman of our Parks and Resorts division," says Iger.
- Rasulo was also responsible for the operation of Maker Studios, a recent Disney acquisition.
- Previously: Disney names COO, likely CEO successor in Staggs (Feb. 05 2015)
Thu, May 28, 6:55 PM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) may be bringing higher prices to its parks and resorts this summer -- for high demand days, at least, and lower prices for off-peak days in a multi-tiered demand pricing system.
- That according to surveys sent to annual pass holders who were asked about the pricing scenario. For example, Disneyland currently has a fixed $99 one-day ticket price year-round, but a $115 "Gold" ticket could be used every day, a $105 "Silver" ticket would work except for peak days and popular holidays, and a $99 "Bronze" ticket would only be for off-peak weekends.
- That represents a bit of a price hike on average, though it would come with volume discounts, and it's a means of addressing crowded parks. Last week, Disneyland temporarily closed gates twice when the park hit its 80K-guest capacity.
- The company's Parks and Resorts unit was a standout in its fiscal Q2, with revenues that grew 6% to $3.76B and operating income that rose 24% as guests (and their spending) increased.
- Walt Disney stock is up 17.4% YTD, and up 32.7% over the past 12 months.
Wed, May 27, 3:37 PM
- Hulu has another deal to offer its streaming service to a cable customer base, this time with Suddenlink, the country's seventh-largest cableco, with about 1.14M subscribers.
- Suddenlink will offer the service to its subscribers with TiVo set-top boxes later this year.
- Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal, Disney and Fox (CMCSA, DIS, FOXA) -- has about 9M subscribers and has been aggressively expanding its content offerings. It recently reached a reseller deal with Cablevision, as well as with Mediacom, WideOpenWest and three other small cable companies.
- Meanwhile, Suddenlink says it doesn't plan to reinstate Viacom programming after dropping it in a carriage dispute last year. Suddenlink claims Viacom wanted a nearly 50% increase in payment.
- Previously: Altice enters the U.S. with Suddenlink stake (May. 20 2015)
- Previously: AT&T deal to offer its customers Hulu subscriber content (May. 13 2015)
- Previously: Cablevision becomes first pay TV provider to offer Hulu (Apr. 28 2015)
Mon, May 25, 7:40 AM
- A relatively lackluster holiday weekend at the box office saw Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Tomorrowland edging other comers to top the charts with a $32.2 opening, just enough to dethrone Pitch Perfect 2 (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which drew $30.3M.
- With expectations for $40M over the three-day period, Tomorrowland disappointed somewhat and earned just $26.7M overseas. Its four-day weekend domestic total is projected for $40.7M; that against a budget of $180M.
- The other key newcomer this week has a quicker path to profitability: The remake of Poltergeist (NASDAQ:FOXA), whose $23M three-day take was good for fourth place and which had a budget of just $35M.
- In ongoing release, Mad Max: Fury Road (NYSE:TWX) took third with $23.8M ($30M estimated for the four-day period), and Avengers: Age of Ultron (DIS) drew $20.9M for fifth place. Disney's super-sequel has taken a total of $404.1M domestically, but another killer weekend in China ($210M total there) has brought its global total nearer to $1.3B.
Thu, May 21, 9:30 AM
- Alongside Goldman's list of 50 stocks appearing most as top holdings at hedge funds is its list of the 50 top shorts.
- New additions this quarter: Baxter Intl (NYSE:BAX), UPS, Marriott (NASDAQ:MAR), NextEra (NYSE:NEE), Ford (NYSE:F), National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), M&T Bank (NYSE:MTB), CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), Pioneer Natural (NYSE:PXD), Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), Seagate (NASDAQ:STX), AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO).
- The full list (in order of $ value of short interest): AT&T (NYSE:T), Disney (NYSE:DIS), IBM, Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI), Exxon (NYSE:XOM), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), J&J (NYSE:JNJ), Deere (NYSE:DE), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), Exelon (NYSE:EXC), GE, Boeing (NYSE:BA), Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), UTX, Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN), Merck (NYSE:MRK), salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), AbbVie (ABBV), Conoco (NYSE:COP), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), AutoZone (NYSE:AZO), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Emerson (NYSE:EMR), McDonald's (MCD), Reynolds (NYSE:RAI), Target (NYSE:TGT), Accenture (NYSE:ACN), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO).
Tue, May 19, 6:36 PM
- With the help of Taylor Swift and some big finales, ABC (NYSE:DIS) is rallying to a strong close to the season in its key demographic of 18-49-year-olds.
- While NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) won the season with that demo, ABC has finished first with them for four straight weeks. (CBS is yet again the overall leader, winning in all-viewers ratings for the seventh year in a row.)
- ABC benefited from Swift's showcase at the Billboard Music Awards, which drew 11.2M viewers to see her take eight awards and introduce a new video. CBS eked out an overall prime-time win, with an average 7.33M viewers to ABC's 7.27M, NBC's 5.5M and Fox's (NASDAQ:FOXA) 3.5M.
- Over in cable, TNT's ruling, thanks to the NBA playoffs. The network averaged 2.78M prime-time viewers to ESPN's 2.16M.
- Meanwhile, a dark cloud is threatening ABC's news division as the story of anchor George Stephanopoulos and his donations to the Clinton Foundation continues developing. While NBC News wrestles with a crisis over its anchor Brian Williams (under contract for $50M), Stephanopoulos renewed his pact for $105M, Emily Smith points out -- meaning his stumbles and the network's may be even more closely tied together.
- ABC's evening news retook the top spot from NBC this week, 7.76M average viewers to 7.67M.
- Previously: 'Mad Men' viewers bump 74% for series finale (May. 19 2015)
Mon, May 18, 12:12 PM
- In the battle between apocalyptic and a cappella, it was the singing movie that prevailed post-Avengers, as Pitch Perfect 2 (CMCSA +0.7%) outdrew Mad Max: Fury Road (NYSE:TWX) to lead weekend box office with a $70.3M gross.
- The latest Pitch Perfect drew more domestically in its opening weekend than the first film did in its entire run, and its heavily female-skewing audience outspent the male-skewed one for Mad Max, which drew $44.4M. It's also quicker to profit, as it cost just $29M to make vs. Mad Max's $150M price tag.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (NYSE:DIS) settled back into third place with a very healthy $38.8M, bringing its domestic gross to $372M. It opened in China with that country's second-highest debut ever ($156.3M), which was enough to push the film to $1.1B globally (No. 8 on the all-time list).
- Furious 7 -- also Universal's -- drew just $3.6M domestically this week, but its global total is close to $1.5B.
- As for how Universal might capitalize on its success, domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou answered whether there would be a Pitch Perfect 3 with "Yes, how’s that for being subtle?"
Fri, May 15, 7:48 PM
- Looking back with a week of TV upfronts in the books, the Big Five networks pulled back on orders from 54 to 45 this year and dialed up more superheroes and shows from existing intellectual property.
- With the pullback, only 16 new comedies are coming out between them. ABC (NYSE:DIS) and CBS renewed the most shows -- 17 each -- while NBC (NASDAQ:CMCSA) dumped a disastrous slate of new shows from the past year and returns only 8 overall (and that's if American Odyssey and A.D. The Bible Continues make it, which isn't certain).
- NBC's also the only network who won't have a comic-book program on, while the other networks share eight. Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), for its part, is skewing more male in the coming year with more genre dramas and a couple of male-skewing family shows with Rob Lowe and John Stamos.
- Also indicative of a conservative streak: The number of adaptations/remakes. As Sony's Zack Van Amburg noted for The Hollywood Reporter, "With Coach, Minority Report, Rush Hour, Limitless, Heroes, X-Files ... How do you not look at all of that and go, 'Yep, we brought out brands that used to be brands, we dusted them off and here they are. That’s going to save everything!' "
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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