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, 5:00 PM
- A drawn-out case has come to a (relatively quick) close as a jury decides for HBO (NYSE:TWX) in a defamation suit filed by soccer brand Mitre Sports International.
- Mitre had sued over an HBO Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel report in 2008 alleging the company used young boys and girls to stitch soccer balls for pennies or even less, many of them to pay off parents' debts. Mitre claimed that HBO staged the encounters.
- Mitre was seeking not only compensatory but punitive damages that were surely in the millions of dollars, and tried to get the jury to hear about HBO's $1.8B in operating profits and $5.4B in revenue.
- HBO: "We are delighted with the jury’s decision, which confirms what we have said since the beginning of this legal proceeding in the fall of 2008: This case was without merit, and the Real Sports reporting was unimpeachable."
Mon, May 4, 7:51 PM
- Broadcast revenues for Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight might touch $300M, based on estimates of just how big the money-soaked event turned out to be worldwide.
- Co-promoters HBO (NYSE:TWX) and Showtime (NYSE:CBS) were still counting money today -- many buys come at the last minute -- but early pay-per-view buys indicated the matchup would surpass the previous record of 2.48M buys (2007 Mayweather-De La Hoya fight) as well as the revenue record of $152M (2013 Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez).
- Purchases came in fast and late enough that the fight itself was delayed Saturday night, to let networks process the transactions.
- Verizon (NYSE:VZ) said its purchases quintupled on Saturday, leading to its own PPV record of 250K buys.
Wed, Apr. 29, 10:25 AM
- At its upfront presentation for 2015, Hulu confirms it has acquired rights to the episode library of '90s hit Seinfeld, as well as signed an exclusive deal with AMC Networks (NASDAQ:AMCX) for The Walking Dead spinoff Fear the Walking Dead.
- Seinfeld will premiere in June on Hulu after the service outpaced competing bidders including Amazon.com and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), as well as Netflix, which bowed out early.
- That deal was widely watched as it's expected to cost as much as $180M -- Hulu's biggest ever. While Sony Pictures Television (NYSE:SNE) sold the distribution rights, much of that take will head to Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), which owns the show's producer, Castle Rock Entertainment, and will continue to hold rerun rights on TBS.
- The AMC deal also means content from IFC, Sundance TV, BBC America and We TV -- meaning IFC films will also be on Hulu.
- Hulu -- co-owned by NBCUniversal, Disney and Fox (CMCSA, DIS, FOXA) -- says it's consolidated its two brands and so will be phasing out "Hulu Plus."
- Previously: A Jerry big deal: 'Seinfeld' near streaming agreement (Mar. 14 2015)
Wed, Apr. 29, 8:49 AM
- Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) moved up 1.1% premarket on Q1 adjusted operating income that rose to a record $1.8B (up 12%) and earnings per share that rose 23%.
- EBITDA of $1.984B beat an expected $1.906B.
- In particular, Turner had its best quarter ever, with the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament leading TBS to become No. 1 among ad-supported cable networks in the 18-49 demo. Turner adjusted operating income of $1.1B (up 26%) was its highest ever.
- Warner Bros. led revenue segments and was buoyed by the box-office success of American Sniper, which has earned more than $348M domestically and more than $541M globally.
- Segment revenues: Turner, $2.7B (up 4.5%); Home Box Office, $1.4B (up 4.4%); Warner Bros., $3.2B (up 4.3%).
- The company reaffirmed 2015 guidance for EPS of $4.60-$4.70, in line with expectations.
- Conference call at 10:30 a.m. ET.
- Press release
Wed, Apr. 29, 7:03 AM
Mon, Apr. 27, 7:44 AM
- In his "We Are Full of Bull" note this morning, Morgan Stanley's Adam Parker says the economy will accelerate in Q2 and Q3, bringing stocks along for the ride. If investors are gun-shy thanks to record levels for the averages, Parker suggests looking for names with decent long-term earnings forecasts trading at a discount to the market.
- The ten largest U.S. stocks trading at a discount, but with above-average expected growth rates: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD), Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP), Actavis (NYSE:ACT), Twenty-First Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), Ford (NYSE:F), BlackRock (NYSE:BLK).
- Conversely, one might want to avoid those stocks selling for substantial premiums. The ten largest stocks trading at a premium to the market while growing at a below-average rate: Exxon (NYSE:XOM), Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), Pepsico (NYSE:PEP), Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), MMM, McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), UPS, Nike (NYSE:NKE).
- Source: Bloomberg
Fri, Apr. 24, 4:30 PM
- Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) CEO Jeff Bewkes received $32.9M in compensation in 2014, up just 1.2% from the prior year, the company revealed in a late proxy statement filing.
- Recently joined CFO Howard Averill was listed at $8.22M in compensation.
- Other execs getting a bump: General Counsel Paul Cappuccio, to $8.75M from $7.84M; Gary Ginsberg, executive VP of Corporate Marketing and Communications, to $4.34M from $4.06M; and Olaf Olafsson, executive VP for International and Corporate Strategy, to $4.33M from $4.05M.
Thu, Apr. 23, 1:26 PM
Tue, Apr. 21, 9:29 PM
- HBO (NYSE:TWX) has taken a loose stance with its paywalls and password sharing in the U.S., but it's begun taking action against external customers of new streaming service HBO Now who may be using virtual private networks to access the U.S.-only offering.
- The network began sending e-mails today threatening account cancellations to those users (often in Germany, the UK, Australia/New Zealand or Canada) suspected of masquerading as U.S. users, and instructing them to call and explain themselves to maintain the account.
- The likely impetus is a (more complicated) extension of issues that HBO Now's launch faced in the U.S. -- namely, the fraught relationship that HBO has from its traditional revenue partnerships with cable partners. Australians, for example, should be accessing HBO via $45/month to Foxtel rather than $14.99/month to HBO through a VPN.
- Previously: HBO Now rolls out via Apple and Cablevision (Apr. 07 2015)
Tue, Apr. 14, 2:38 PM
- Despite a four-episode leak online that led to 100K unauthorized downloads, HBO's (NYSE:TWX) Game of Thrones premiered its fifth season to a series-high 8M viewers -- up 17% from last year's premiere, and 800K viewers higher than any other episode of the show, according to Nielsen.
- That makes it second only to The Walking Dead on cable. In the wake of the launch of streaming service HBO Now, the gains may offer a key data point to the "piracy vs. availability" debate.
- The series has grown its average seasonal audience every year.
- The effect of HBO Now on the numbers may become clearer later in the week when the cable network releases its own viewer data.
- Previously: HBO welcomes 'Game of Thrones' crowds; Sling TV stumbles (Apr. 13 2015)
Mon, Apr. 13, 5:05 PM
- An early study says HBO (NYSE:TWX) is benefiting nicely from its move toward solo streaming, with overall viewership up 85% since the March 9 announcement of HBO Now.
- The impact of Game of Thrones can't be understated. The show broadcast its season 5 premiere last night and HBO pressed to have HBO Now up and running in time for that event.
- The fantasy drama made up 19% of all content viewed on HBO platforms since HBO Now's announcement, and on the service's first day available last week, the show was 34% of all video viewed.
- While HBO Now held up during last night's rush, Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH) once again had issues, this time with streaming to Roku devices. The Sling service previously ran into problems serving up Final Four video.
- The new season's first four episodes leaked online and were available illegally through file-sharing sites and downloaded 100K times in the first few hours.
- Game of Thrones is television's most-"pirated" show. Past episodes were downloaded from file-sharing sites 7M times between February and April.
Fri, Apr. 10, 8:59 PM
- Paramount Pictures' Interstellar (VIA, VIAB) debuted strong on top of the home-entertainment charts, surpassing some solid competition.
- The film topped The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (NYSE:TWX) on Nielsen's VideoScan sales chart (DVD and Blu-ray).
- The top five was rounded out by Big Hero 6 and Into the Woods (NYSE:DIS), and Penguins of Madagascar (DWA, FOXA).
- The Hobbit sold 57% of Interstellar's units but only 39% of the Blu-rays of the visual-and-sound-heavy space adventure. Blu-rays accounted for 70% of total Interstellar sales.
- The rampaging success of Furious 7 (NASDAQ:CMCSA) pushed the two previous series films, Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6, back into the top 20.
Fri, Apr. 10, 12:17 PM
- Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX) makes a surprise move in extending a programming-package deal with German TV company ProSiebenSat.1 that will grant rights to upcoming major films including Batman v Superman and current TV hits including Gotham and The Flash.
- Warner had typically alternated rights deals between ProSiebenSat.1 and its rival RTL, but “there is no specific strategy that we have in any market about whether we renew with the incumbent or whether we move to another network when our deals are over," says Warner's TV distribution chief Jeffrey Schlesinger.
- The companies didn't disclose length or financial terms but the German group's Ruediger Boess said they'd secured the rights "for the coming years."
Thu, Apr. 9, 9:08 PM
- Don't let recent merger challenges and failures fool you, Michael Wolff argues: "M&A mania" is coming to a media conglomerate near you amid pressure for a new wave of consolidation.
- "Perhaps never before has consolidation been so much the flavor of the month, nor has it seemed so difficult to get a taste," he writes. "The table is set, but nobody's sitting down to eat."
- If Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) fails in its bid for Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), he notes, it just means other cablers will step up to match Comcast's ambition, and Comcast will still look for a way to stay dominant.
- He points to a number of mergers he thinks are easily imaginable: Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA) and FOX? Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)? TWC and Charter (NASDAQ:CHTR)? Discovery (NASDAQ:DISCA) and, well, most anyone (Disney, Fox, CBS)?
- Factors encouraging the wave: Media's all about video now, and the pure-play aspect makes merger logic cleaner; distribution and content are separate and now even antagonistic businesses; the growth of over-the-top means not unbundling but re-bundling; and everyone needs scale for negotiation strength in content and ad deals.
- Other key players: John Malone (LMCA, LBTYA, STRZA); Verizon (NYSE:VZ); Lions Gate (NYSE:LGF); Scripps Networks (NYSE:SNI); Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX); DirecTV (NASDAQ:DTV) and AT&T (NYSE:T); Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH).
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