Yesterday, 5:39 PM
- A new version of popular series Battlefield wasn't enough to boost video game sales in March, as software sales slipped 3% Y/Y to $395.4M. But software was positively solid compared to game hardware sales that slipped 21% Y/Y to $311.1M, according to NPD Group.
- In new retail games, Battlefield: Hardline (NASDAQ:EA), a cops-and-robbers version of the war-game series, led sales charts followed by another new entry, action role-player Bloodborne (NYSE:SNE) which was strong despite being a PS4 exclusive.
- The top five was rounded out by Grand Theft Auto V (NASDAQ:TTWO), Mario Party 10 (OTCPK:NTDOY), and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (NASDAQ:ATVI).
- Physical software sales showed sharp declines for previous-generation consoles, which points to the health of the new generation (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U), whose software sales increased 58% Y/Y.
- In hardware, Sony says PS4 again topped the charts, but everyone's doing well in the new generation: “This is the 17th month of sales for the Xbox One and PS4, whose combined cumulative hardware sales are over 50% higher than the combined 17-month cumulative sales totals for the Xbox 360 and PS3,” said NPD's Liam Callahan.
- In a market down more than 1% today, GameStop (NYSE:GME) did worse, down 3.1%.
- And in other EA news, at the ongoing "Star Wars Celebration" event going on in Anaheim, Calif., today's news included the reveal trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront wowing fans. Launching Nov. 17, the game showcases high-definition visuals but takes a somewhat risky move of dropping single-player missions entirely for cooperative and multiplayer.
Yesterday, 2:10 AM
- WikiLeaks has published a large trove of emails and documents stolen from Sony Pictures (NYSE:SNE) in November, dealing a blow to the movie studio, which had appeared to be recovering from the attack.
- While Sony strongly condemned the indexing of the stolen data, WikiLeaks said it offered a "rare insight" into the inner workings of a "large, secretive multinational corporation."
- The archive contains over 30K documents and 173K emails from more than 2K addresses.
Tue, Apr. 14, 8:07 PM
- For the first time, revenue from music downloads/subscriptions passed CD sales in 2014, according to a new trade group report.
- The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry reports that while overall sales were steady worldwide at about $15B, CD/physical formats slipped 8% to $6.82B, vs. digital revenue that grew 7% to $6.85B. The remainder of sales came from licensing/radio play.
- Streaming services (including Spotify, Pandora (NYSE:P), and Apple's Beats Music) showed strong growth in 2014, with revenues that grew a combined 39% Y/Y. The services now make up 32% of digital revenue (23% of digital revenue from subscription services, 9% from ad-supported streaming).
- The music industry "big three": Universal Music Group (OTCPK:VIVHY), Sony Music Entertainment (NYSE:SNE), Warner Music Group (private)
Tue, Apr. 14, 8:09 AM
- Sony Pictures (NYSE:SNE) is making a new push into some of the world’s fastest growing film and television markets by creating a new unit which will specialize in local language production, FT reports.
- "The film slate being produced out of California will have a much more global focus," announced Michael Lynton, chief executive of the studio.
- The company has also hired Sanford Panitch, who built a similar business for 21st Century Fox, to run the new division.
Fri, Apr. 10, 5:27 PM
- Spotify's close to a deal on a seventh funding round, which would raise $400M and value the service at $8.4B, The Wall Street Journal reports -- launching it into rarefied air. There's still no timeline for an IPO.
- An $8B valuation means investors place it at more than twice the worth of key competition Pandora Media (NYSE:P). Spotify was valued at $4B-$5B last summer and fall.
- Like Pandora, Spotify is losing money and needs cash to support heavy royalty payments. Spotify's minority ownership of record companies -- including Universal Music Group (OTCPK:VIVHY), Sony Music Entertainment (NYSE:SNE) and Warner Music Group -- have pressed for higher conversion of free users to paying subscribers.
- Along with Pandora, Spotify faces intensifying competition with likely new entries from Apple and Google, along with Jay-Z's high-bitrate service Tidal.
- Manhattan Ventures Partners places Spotify's 2014 revenue at $1.3B, vs. Pandora's $920.8M.
Fri, Apr. 10, 3:54 PM
- A lengthy, tricky development cycle for Stephen King's decades-long The Dark Tower fantasy-horror book series has resurfaced at Sony Pictures Entertainment (NYSE:SNE), which looks to rise to ambitious multi-platform plans for the adaptation.
- The producer is working with rights owner MRC to finance a feature film, while MRC is developing a TV series.
- King reportedly likes the new drafts: “I am a giant fan. And, as Stephen himself does, we love the direction that [screenwriters Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner] have taken," says SPE Chairman Tom Rothman. "This is a great opportunity for a director to put his or her stamp on a cool global franchise.”
- Plans for a live-action Dark Tower date to 2010, but cancellations of plans (for HBO to show it, and for Warner Bros. and then Universal to make it) followed.
Mon, Apr. 6, 2:22 PM
- Sony (NYSE:SNE) rose 3.3% in Tokyo on Friday (while U.S. markets were closed) amid a broader rally in Japanese equities, and rose another 0.9% in Tokyo overnight. The company's U.S. ADRs have jumped to new 52-week highs today.
- Some recent news: 1) Sony has acquired game streaming service OnLive's patents for an undisclosed sum; OnLive itself will shut down on April 30. The IP could bolster Sony's recently-launched PlayStation Now game streaming service and/or aid Sony in legal battles with rivals. 2) Pictures of Sony's high-end Xperia Z4 Android phone have leaked. The phone is rumored to have a 5.2" 2K display and 20MP camera, and a design similar to the Xperia Z3's.
- SA author WestEnd511 offered a bullish Sony column on Friday, arguing ongoing restructuring benefits and a pickup in Japanese PS4 sales (aided by new exclusive game launches) will act as catalysts.
Wed, Apr. 1, 7:23 AM
- Sony (NYSE:SNE) said it would book ¥46.8B ($390.4M) in capital gains as it lowered its stake in camera and endoscope maker Olympus (OTCPK:OCPNY) to 5% from 10% through a sale to JPMorgan.
- "We decided on this move to strengthen our financial base and to secure funds for investing in growth," a Sony spokesman said.
- Sony bought shares in Olympus in a partnership announced in 2012, providing it with cash to fix its depleted finances after an accounting scandal forced it to restate several years of earnings.
Fri, Mar. 27, 4:30 PM
- Earlier than expected, Sony (NYSE:SNE) has added content from AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) to its PlayStation Vue streaming TV offering -- so the service's zombie fans (or fans of zombies) can get The Walking Dead's season five finale this coming Sunday.
- Vue (which is currently only available in NYC, Chicago and Philadelphia) now has AMC and WEtv in all packages, and IFC and Sundance in its mid- and high-priced Core and Elite tiers.
- Still absent (and still a dealbreaker for many): Disney's channels, including ABC TV and ESPN. Sony says it's in talks to make those happen.
Fri, Mar. 27, 10:15 AM
- Sony Pictures Television (NYSE:SNE) has agreed to acquire Dutch premium TV group Film1 from Liberty Global (NASDAQ:LBTYA), John Malone's European cable operator.
- The deal means Sony will own and operate five premium movie channels as well as its over-the-top "Film1 Go" digital distribution service.
- Liberty had acquired Film1 in buying Dutch cable operator Ziggo, and Ziggo will continue to carry the five Film1 channels, which feature films from Hollywood studios as well as independent productions.
- The move is another in a series of recent Sony transactions to acquire European channels, including deals in the UK and Hungary.
Fri, Mar. 20, 3:01 AM
- Tapping into a gray area of the net neutrality debate, HBO (NYSE:TWX), Showtime (NYSE:CBS) and Sony (NYSE:SNE) are in talks with broadband providers about having their Web TV services treated as "managed services," giving them a separate lane that would ensure their content gets special treatment.
- While net neutrality states that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equal, the FCC maintains that cable and phone companies can offer "managed services" — digital phone and video-on-demand, for example - that run on a dedicated slice of bandwidth in the cable pipe which is separate from the portion reserved for public Internet access.
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)
Wed, Mar. 18, 9:12 AM
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, 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 Amazon.com (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)
SNE vs. ETF Alternatives
Sony Corp is engaged in the development, design, manufacture, and sale of various kinds of electronic equipment, instruments, and devices for consumer, professional and industrial markets as well as game consoles and software.
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