Rob Black's Media Stock Report

by: Rob Black
MySpace (NASDAQ:NWS) began offering unsigned bands a way to sell their music directly to fans online. The songs are being sold in unprotected MP3 format, a bonus for consumers who have been frustrated with purchasing copy-protected songs that wouldn't play on some devices. MySpace isn't a threat to iTunes now, but over time, it could become one. Their audience is so huge, and growing. I can see the major labels signing on to do this eventually.

Google has added the ability to search through more than 200 years of historical newspaper archives alongside the latest contemporary information now available on Google News. "The goal of the service is to allow users to explore history as it unfolded''.

Vivendi (NYSE:V), the owner of Universal Music Group, won an auction to buy Bertelsmann’s BMG music-publishing division for $2.1 billion to add songs by Justin Timberlake, Nelly and Linkin Park. The purchase of the BMG catalog will generate income from music played at concerts and used in advertising, and from lyrics on t-shirts and coffee mugs.

EMI Music Publishing’s estimated global market share is 20%. The publishing businesses have significant scale economies and therefore value can be created through consolidation (hence the 18-20x multiples of net publisher’s share often paid for catalogues). Assuming a regulatory cap on market share of 25%, the scope for EMI to consolidate the market is limited and therefore a 'post cost savings' multiple on BMG publishing is more appropriate.

The movie business is about to change. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to reveal plans next week to offer downloadable movies from Walt Disney. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is also in the final stages of building online services that potentially will allow easy, legal access to thousands of movies on demand. Amazon has agreements with at least three of the major studios and expects an announcement by the end of the week.