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!' "
Wed, May 13, 8:10 PM
- Avengers: Age of Ultron debuted in China with a $34M opening, Disney's (NYSE:DIS) best ever in that country, and brought the film's global total to $932M.
- The Wednesday opening also provided the biggest non-weekend take in the country's history and accounted for a full 95% of box-office revenues there.
- Among other landmarks for the film's Chinese debut, it pushed Disney over the $2B global box-office mark for the company's 14th straight year.
- With moviegoers in China and Japan just joining in, the film's headed for the $1B club in the coming week, even if its subtitles are causing wild confusion with some Chinese moviegoers, who joked that the work seems to have been done by Google Translate rather than a pro.
- Previously: 'Avengers' tops box office again, cruising toward $1B global (May. 11 2015)
Wed, May 13, 4:11 PM
- At its upfront presentations, ABC (NYSE:DIS) focused on stability in prime time, offering up few changes after a season of improvement that's wrapping on a high note, the only Big Four network to move up in the 18-49 demographic Y/Y.
- ABC will finish third in the demo; No. 1 if you exclude sports.
- Five new series are on the way for fall, with comedies represented by The Muppets and dramas by Quantico, Oil and Of Kings and Prophets. A new series from Shonda Rhimes (hitmaker for Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder) called The Catch will join Thursdays later in the season.
- Unlike NBC -- which dropped any mention of its scandal-plagued news division from its upfront -- ABC made time to praise gains it had made, including some weeks of wresting the top newscast ratings from NBC after Brian Williams' suspension.
Wed, May 13, 12:31 PM
- AT&T (T +1.1%) announces it's made a deal to offer Hulu subscription video streaming to its customers via websites and mobile devices, and that the two are also exploring a Hulu app for TV.
- The offering will come later this year and let AT&T customers browse and choose Hulu selections on demand. The deal builds on a current contract that AT&T has with Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal, Disney and Fox (CMCSA, DIS, FOXA) -- for its free content.
- Last month, Cablevision became the first pay-TV provider to distribute Hulu's service to its set-top customers.
Tue, May 12, 5:32 PM
- Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) has set an agreement to sell new addressable advertising products to ESPN and Disney (NYSE:DIS), they confirmed during ESPN's upfront today.
- The deal gives Disney access to first-party data from Cablevision's set-top boxes, nearly 7M of them in the New York market, which Disney will aggregate with its own 40M-user database.
- Cablevision announced its Total Audience Application product two weeks ago to offer census-level audience data, and that product's in testing phase.
- The company is pursuing additional revenue streams as video margins dwindle. "Our philosophy is that video is akin to the eggs and milk in a convenience store," CEO James Dolan said. "You have to have it, but you don't make money on it."
Mon, May 11, 12:28 PM
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (NYSE:DIS) had a second weekend almost to itself at the box office, drawing $77.2M to lead yet again and bring its domestic haul to $312.9M -- the second-fastest film to the $300M mark, behind only the original Avengers film.
- With an international take of $68M for a worldwide total of $875.3M and openings yet to come in China and Japan, it should join Furious 7 (NASDAQ:CMCSA) in the global billion-dollar club before long.
- Comedy Hot Pursuit (TWX; Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara) finished at No. 2 with a very light opening of $13.3M (on more than 3,000 screens) and negative critical reaction.
- Other notable receipts: Furious 7 was fourth with $5.3M to bring its domestic take to $338.4M, and Home (NASDAQ:DWA) was seventh with $3M to bring its total gross to $162.1M.
Fri, May 8, 7:38 PM
- ESPN (NYSE:DIS) today said it's parting ways with Bill Simmons, its longtime popular columnist and creator of the Grantland website and 30 for 30 documentaries: "Time to move on," said ESPN president John Skipper of negotiating a contract that expires this fall.
- Relations had been rocky after Skipper suspended Simmons for a third time last fall, over comments made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case. (Simmons on Goodell then: "He's a liar.") Today, reports circulated that Simmons was seeking $6M in the new contract.
- Grantland -- the sports/pop culture site the Simmons founded inside ESPN and took to a prestige role in longform writing -- will continue without him, ESPN says, though its publisher David Cho is departing as well.
- More than the ultimate effect on Disney might be what Simmons could do wherever he lands. Where's a good home for an independent-minded columnist with millions of followers and a hefty price? Yahoo -- in the midst of adding personalities to its many sub-brands -- seems a likely spot. Fox Sports (NASDAQ:FOXA), though it has a tight relationship with the NFL and therefore Goodell. Vice or CNN (NYSE:TWX)? Burgeoning TV net Vice has momentum, and its chief Shane Smith tweeted an entreaty to Simmons today.
Fri, May 8, 11:37 AM
- A suit that might have slowed down progress on the review of AT&T's (NYSE:T) purchase of DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) has wrapped, with the court throwing out the FCC's order for media companies to disclose their pay-TV programming contracts.
- The agency had asked for the disclosures in connection with their reviews of that deal and of Comcast's now-failed bid for Time Warner Cable, but major content companies including CBS, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA) and Viacom (VIA, VIAB) argued the results would cause "irreparable harm" to their negotiating strategies.
- The FCC's order was found "substantially and procedurally flawed." The resolution removes yet another hurdle between AT&T and DirecTV.
- Previously: With Comcast-TWC done, federal suit likely focuses on AT&T-DirecTV (Apr. 24 2015)
Thu, May 7, 7:43 PM
- Disney (NYSE:DIS) has named Leslie Ferraro its president of Consumer Products, effective immediately.
- Ferraro comes out of the Parks & Resorts group where she led marketing and sales teams in campaign development. She joined Disney in 1999, and will report to CEO Bob Iger and COO Thomas Staggs.
- In Tuesday's earnings report, Disney noted strong fiscal second-quarter growth in consumer products (revenues that grew 10% to $971M, and operating income up 32% to $362M), and the division has big opportunities ahead as the company plans merchandising for a wide range of Star Wars films as well as years of scheduled Marvel films -- not to mention the continuing success that is merchandise tied to Frozen.
Wed, May 6, 7:15 PM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) fell 1% today, a day after the media giant posted a solid Q2 on the back of its Media Networks and Parks divisions, and the stock hit a 52-week high. So is this it for share appreciation?
- "We think not," says JBL Advisors' Jeffrey Logsdon, pointing to a few upcoming years of EPS growth, lucrative products and films to come over the next few years and Park & Resort expansion plans.
- Return of capital is still a part of its EPS growth quotient; "look for more share repurchases in 2HF15 and in F2016 and F2017," he says.
- Among a number of updates posted today, JPMorgan Chase boosted its price target on the stock to $121, from $110. The firm has an Overweight rating on Disney. Nomura also boosted its target, to $125 from $120, and holds a Buy rating.
- Jefferies Group and BMO Capital Markets both set their price target at $125 as well, and maintain Buy ratings for Disney.
- Shares closed today at $109.72.
Tue, May 5, 11:37 PM
- Synergies aplenty, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) has announced the latest version of its videogame-toy combo series Infinity -- Disney Infinity 3.0 -- and says it will incorporate figures from every era of the Star Wars universe.
- The rival to Activision's Skylanders among videogames that interact with physical toy characters/accessories, Infinity has benefited from the wide variety of collectible characters from the Disney ecosphere.
- The company will have three Star Wars play sets available in the fall following the game's release, and will also offer a new Marvel play set featuring characters from film hit Avengers: Age of Ultron.
- The news may provide a shot in the arm for the game as well as Disney's Interactive unit, which again posted lower revenue in part based on lower Infinity accessory sales. Last quarter, Interactive revenue slipped 5% on lower-than-expected Infinity results, and today the company noted Interactive sales fell 12% to $235M, citing "lower Disney Infinity performance."
- Press release
- Previously: 'Avengers' marks second-best $187.7M weekend for Disney (May. 04 2015)
Tue, May 5, 9:07 AM
- Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) gained 2.5% premarket on a fiscal Q2 beat on top and bottom lines boosted by strength in its theme park and media units, as its filmed entertainment results took a bit of a breather before the release of a new Avengers film.
- Earnings totaled $2.1B and EPS was up 11% on a non-GAAP basis to $1.23. EBITDA of $3.9B beat an expected $3.73B.
- Revenue by segment: Media Networks, $5.8B (up 13%); Parks and Resorts, $3.76B (up 6%); Studio Entertainment, $1.69B (down 6%); Consumer Products, $971M (up 10%); Interactive, $235M (down 12%).
- In the Media Networks space, Cable Networks revenue was up 11% to $4.03B and Broadcasting revenues up a solid 19% to $1.78B. Operating income slipped 9% at ESPN due to higher programming/production costs, but ad revenues lifted operating income at Broadcasting 90%, to $302M.
- Parks and Resorts operating income was up 24% to $566M mainly due to increases in guest spending and volumes.
- Free cash flow of $2.01B was up 10% Y/Y.
- Conference call at 9:30 a.m. ET.
- Press release
Tue, May 5, 8:04 AM
Mon, May 4, 5:30 PM
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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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