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News Summaries
  • Fri, Apr. 20, 11:26 AM
    • Advancing some earlier talks, Comcast (CMCSA -0.2%) and Charter (CHTR -0.2%) have formed a 50-50 operating platform partnership aimed at shoring up the back end of their nascent wireless service offerings: Comcast's Xfinity Mobile and Charter's Spectrum Mobile.
    • While offering separate brands (and maintaining separate relationships with device makers and separate customer-facing operations), the two will work together to build an efficient and scalable platform to power customer sales and support, device logistics and warehousing, and billing.
    • That can serve as systems interface for both current and future MVNO partners, they say.
    • Charter is initially funding the joint venture to reflect costs that Comcast has already invested; then the two companies will equally fund operations.
    • Each company will supply two directors to a four-person board.
    Fri, Apr. 20, 11:26 AM | 4 Comments
  • Wed, Apr. 18, 3:11 PM
    • Taking the stand in the landmark Justice Dept. trial over AT&T's (T -0.4%) deal to buy out his company Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), CEO Jeff Bewkes minced no words when asked about the fundamentals of the government's case.
    • Asked about a claim that the combined company would be able to use blackout threats to demand more money for carriage of Turner networks, Bewkes says "I think it is ridiculous ... It is not how this works."
    • Time Warner would have a lot to lose in a long blackout that would be "catastrophic for us."
    • As for the DOJ's claim that AT&T/Time Warner could collude with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) to undermine burgeoning over-the-top services like Sling TV and YouTube, that "makes no sense" -- it's in Turner's interest to be on those platforms, he says, and it also doesn't make sense that HBO would be restricted as a promotional tool: "We need to have as many subscribers as we can get."
    • The merger is in response to two "tectonic shifts," he says: new competition from Internet streaming and the growth of targeted digital advertising.
    • Previous trial coverage
    Wed, Apr. 18, 3:11 PM | 80 Comments
  • Tue, Apr. 17, 12:13 PM
    • Comcast (CMCSA -1.1%) is launching 1-Gbps Internet for residential and business customers in Vermont.
    • The DOCSIS 3.1-based offering is now available in nearly two dozen towns and the company will bring it to a majority of its service areas in the state throughout the year.
    • Comcast's "Business Internet 1 Gig" and "Business Internet 500" tiers are also available on the existing network, the company said.
    • Everyday price for residential gigabit service is $104.95/month, with a 12-month promo price of $89.99/month.
    Tue, Apr. 17, 12:13 PM | 4 Comments
  • Mon, Apr. 16, 2:33 PM
    • With final figures in, the Rock and his Rampage (TWX +0.7%) topped weekend box office in their debut, but not by much over a surprising second weekend from horror thriller A Quiet Place (VIA +2.1%, VIAB +1.7%).
    • Rampage grossed $35.8M compared to $32.6M logged by A Quiet Place. Another newcomer, horror film Truth or Dare (CMCSA +1.8%), settled into third with $19.2M.
    • A Quiet Place lost just a third of its opening-weekend business and stopped just shy of the $100M mark in early figures for cumulative domestic grosses, a much-needed score for Paramount. It's added another $51.7M overseas.
    • Rounding out the top five were Ready Player One (NYSE:TWX) at No. 4 with $11.5M and Blockers (NASDAQ:CMCSA) at No. 5 with $10.3M.
    • Among still-running hits, Black Panther (DIS -0.1%) is still in more than 2,000 theaters and added another $5.3M to bring domestic grosses to $673.8M, and worldwide to $1.31B.
    Mon, Apr. 16, 2:33 PM | 9 Comments
  • Fri, Apr. 13, 9:20 AM
    • Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) announces that it expanded its partnership with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) to include a Netflix subscription in new and existing Xfinity packages.
    • “Netflix offers one of the most popular on demand services and is an important supplement to the content offering and value proposition of the X1 platform,” says Comcast Chief Business Development Officer Sam Schwartz.
    • Comcast will launch a variety of initial offers this month that include a Netflix subscription. Offers will vary by market and be open to new and existing customers. Netflix-related billing will be handled directly by Comcast under one statement.
    • CMCSA +0.21% premarket to $33.20. NFLX +2.31% to $316.40.
    • Source: Press Release
    Fri, Apr. 13, 9:20 AM | 48 Comments
  • Thu, Apr. 12, 2:51 PM
    • Hulu has quietly begun a limited offer to sell an HBO (TWX +0.4%) add-on to its service for $4.99/month, a significant discount off the usual $14.99/month.
    • That price (available for a limited time) locks in for six months before it reverts to normal.
    • The deal is available to those who subscribe to on-demand plans as well as the company's live TV streaming.
    • Hulu -- co-owned by Comcast (CMCSA -1.8%), Disney (DIS -0.7%), Fox (FOX +0.6%, FOXA +0.5%) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) -- has been offering add-on service for HBO as well as Showtime (CBS -2%) and Cinemax.
    Thu, Apr. 12, 2:51 PM | 22 Comments
  • Wed, Apr. 11, 7:04 PM
    • The antitrust trial over AT&T's (NYSE:T) $85B takeover bid for Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) is on another break, and the Justice Dept. is wrapping up its case against the merger with its star witness.
    • The government's economic expert, Cal-Berkeley professor Carl Shapiro, testified that the tie-up would lead to higher cable bills -- to the tune of an extra $571M/year by 2021.
    • “I've concluded the merger will harm consumers,” Shapiro told the court. “The harm is significant.”
    • Shapiro seems to have succeeded in explaining the underpinnings of the DOJ's case better than previous witnesses, Brian Fung notes.
    • Shapiro went through a three-point approach: AT&T risked raising the price of content (and thus costs) for other cablecos; AT&T could benefit in customer additions from rivals that decided they couldn't afford Time Warner content; and AT&T could coordinate with Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) to restrict access to Time Warner/NBC content to hurt emerging OTT services like Sling TV (NASDAQ:DISH) or PlayStation Vue (NYSE:SNE).
    • As expected, AT&T brought in real-world examples where subscriber loss was less than feared, including a 2014 dispute between Suddenlink and Viacom.
    • AT&T fell 1.6% today; TWX dipped 0.5%.
    Wed, Apr. 11, 7:04 PM | 98 Comments
  • Fri, Apr. 6, 6:14 PM
    • Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has a deal with the Chicago Cubs that will see it powering networking at Wrigley Field and a new Cubs front office.
    • The multi-year technology/marketing partnership will provide for Wi-Fi, video and voice services and makes Xfinity Mobile the Cubs' exclusive wireless partner. The Xfinity brand will be the official entertainment and Wi-Fi partner for Wrigley.
    • In time, the deal will allow for in-game video services throughout Wrigley Field and the Park at Wrigley, including live game feeds.
    • The deal means high branding visibility for Comcast in time for the Cubs' home opener April 9.
    Fri, Apr. 6, 6:14 PM
  • Thu, Apr. 5, 1:30 PM
    • Disney (DIS +0.6%) is considering dropping the video ad tech it uses now, from Comcast (CMCSA +0.5%), and might go with Google (GOOG -0.1%, GOOGL -0.2%) in the ensuing scrum, Business Insider says.
    • The content giant is seeking pitches to replace Comcast's FreeWheel, sources told BI, and Google has been looking for heavier inroads into TV advertising after a recent win with CBS All Access.
    • FreeWheel has the major benefit of incumbency since a change is hard to pull off, and Google is already seen as perhaps too dominant in digital ads; on the other hand, TV networks have been leery about rival Comcast having so much access to viewership data.
    • And Disney's BAMTech doesn't look to be an option, with its strength lying in Web video delivery.
    Thu, Apr. 5, 1:30 PM | 6 Comments
  • Wed, Apr. 4, 10:45 AM
    • Three of the nation's biggest cablecos, Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Cox Communications are forming a new group to sell advanced advertising solutions across a national footprint.
    • The three, co-owners of NCC Media, will use the new unit to design, deploy and sell national ad products on linear and video-on-demand platforms using (non-personally identifiable) data and targeting capabilities.
    • Comcast Media 360, the former national ad sales team for Comcast Spotlight, will form the foundation of the group.
    Wed, Apr. 4, 10:45 AM | 1 Comment
  • Wed, Mar. 28, 2:15 PM
    • Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) having one of its better days in a 2018 where it's down 17.6% YTD; shares are up 1.5% today with a few new Buy ratings stacking up.
    • This week, HSBC and Jefferies added Buys and MoffettNathanson has listed a Buy rating today.
    • Meanwhile, Buckingham goes to Buy, saying "We are skeptical that the Sky bid is just a gambit to pressure to acquire Fox’s and or Disney’s respective 30% interests in streaming service Hulu," and expressing that successfully nabbing Sky (SKYAY +0.3%) could be a "major building block for a global streaming business." (h/t Bloomberg)
    • That echoes sentiment that Craig Moffett expressed earlier this month: “Sky brings with it a trove of exclusive content and rights that could be the basis of an OTT service with a genuine moat, capable of rivaling Netflix itself."
    • Buckingham has a price target of $55 on CMCSA, implying 65% upside.
    Wed, Mar. 28, 2:15 PM | 11 Comments
  • Mon, Mar. 26, 6:11 PM
    • As expected, Pacific Rim Uprising (NASDAQ:CMCSA) became the film to knock Black Panther (NYSE:DIS) from the top spot at the box office after five weeks, but Disney may be too busy counting money to get concerned.
    • The sequel to the monsters-vs.-mechwarriors Pacific Rim grossed $28.1M to Black Panther's $17.1M.
    • Faith-based drama I Can Only Imagine (LGF.A, LGF.B) had strong legs in holding on to the No. 3 spot with $13.6M, followed by newcomer Sherlock Gnomes (VIA, VIAB) with $10.6M.
    • A week after its debut, a reboot of Tomb Raider (NYSE:TWX) lost 57% of its business to draw $10.1M.
    • Black Panther, though, became the highest-grossing domestic superhero film and the No. 5 all-time grosser over the weekend, and with the full weekend in the books it sits at $631.4M cumulative, just $21M behind Jurassic World for the No. 4 spot and $28M behind No. 3 Titanic.
    • On a worldwide gross basis, Black Panther now sits No. 12 with $1.239B, having passed The Fate of the Furious at $1.236B. Next up: No. 11 Beauty and the Beast (2017 live-action remake) with $1.263.5B.
    Mon, Mar. 26, 6:11 PM | 21 Comments
  • Sat, Mar. 24, 3:50 PM
    • The latest milestone for Black Panther (NYSE:DIS): becoming North America's top-grossing superhero film of all time.
    • The film passed the $623.4M drawn by fellow Marvel title The Avengers today and became the fifth-highest grossing film of all time domestically, behind just Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avatar, Titanic and Jurassic World.
    • The latest of the film's many record achievements is the more unprecedented for being a major-studio tentpole featuring a virtually all-black cast.
    • Pacific Rim Uprising (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is trying to become the first film to knock Black Panther off a five-week perch at the top, drawing $10.4M in Friday estimates to Black Panther's $4.4M. The new film is tracking toward a $25M weekend and is likely to take the top spot come Monday.
    • On a worldwide basis, The Avengers has $1.52B in grosses to Black Panther's $1.21B.
    Sat, Mar. 24, 3:50 PM | 57 Comments
  • Thu, Mar. 22, 6:01 PM
    • Comedian/entrepreneur Byron Allen is buying the Weather Channel from Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) and Bain Capital in a $300M deal.
    • He's buying it via Allen Media in order to give leverage to the rest of his holdings, which include cable networks such as Pets.TV and Comedy.TV as well as film/TV production studios.
    • The Weather Channel is distributed in 80M homes, off its one-time peak of more than 95M homes thanks in large part to cord-cutting.
    • As for competition from weather apps, Allen says: “An app can only for the most part tell you what the temperature is; it can’t give you the in-depth information you need to navigate you and your family’s life."
    Thu, Mar. 22, 6:01 PM | 35 Comments
  • Wed, Mar. 21, 1:22 PM
    • As investors look for tea leaves to read ahead of tomorrow's opening arguments in the AT&T/Time Warner antitrust trial, reports show that the Justice Dept. intends to call several of AT&T's rival firms to testify, starting with Cox Communications' Suzanne Fenwick.
    • She works in Cox's content acquisition team and the company is concerned about "potential access to exclusive content" by a giant AT&T/Time Warner combination.
    • Justice will also call AT&T Entertainment Chief Content Officer Dan York, the New York Post reports, and question him about alleged moves when he ran DirecTV content to discourage rivals from signing carriage deals with a Los Angeles Dodgers channel.
    • A source tells the Post that the government's star witness will be controversial.
    • Among others whose executives will testify, according to Judge Richard Leon: Comcast-NBCUniversal (NASDAQ:CMCSA); Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR); CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL); YouTube (GOOG, GOOGL); CableOne (NYSE:CABO) and Sony (NYSE:SNE).
    • AT&T (NYSE:T) is down 0.5% so far today; Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) is up 0.4%.
    Wed, Mar. 21, 1:22 PM | 61 Comments