The stock price fell 4.6% to $431.09 even though the Q2 earnings reported last night were largely in line with analyst expectations, subscriptions were up impressively, and management forecasts were upbeat. What gives?
The simplest explanation is that Netflix always is susceptible to downturns because its shares are so expensive, reflecting investor optimism about its prospects. They trade for about 128 times the company’s earnings — a stark contrast to more stable media giants such as Fox, Comcast, Time Warner and CBS whose stock prices equal about 20 times earnings.
Related: Netflix Says It Sees Little Change If Fox Acquires Time Warner
And Netflix bears found some reasons to be skittish. The company will have to boost spending to secure the content it will need to serve new markets including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg — and that could put pressure on earnings “as soon as next year,” says Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter. He’s concerned about the decline in DVD-by-mail rental subscribers; they account for “half of all operating profit for the company.” The analyst also says that Amazon’s recent streaming deal with HBO suggests that “a stand-alone subscription plan is coming” that would make the e-retailer a more potent video competitor.
Related: Wall Street Wonders: Will HBO’s Deal With Amazon Change The Online Video Game?
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Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s MRC series is taking shape, with Ed Helms, Hilary Swank and Ed Harris in various stages of negotiations to topline the hour-long project. In his U.S. TV debut, the Oscar-nominated Iñárritu will direct the series, titled One Percent, which he co-created with Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giacobone, and Armando Bo. The four recently collaborated on the script of Iñárritu’s latest feature, black comedy Birdman Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance, which has been selected to open this year’s Venice Film Festival in its world premiere and as the closing-night title for the New York Film Festival.
One Percent is set against the backdrop of the organic farming community. Helms and Swank would play a husband and wife who are struggling professionally and personally to keep their business afloat, while Harris would play the family patriarch. MRC is expected to take the project out to buyers in a few weeks, likely seeking a straight-to-series order, which has been the company’s strategy. It has been able to secure two-season pickups for its Emmy-winning David Fincher-Kevin Spacey drama House Of Cards at Netflix and the Seth MacFarlane comedy at Starz.
One Percent, which … Read More »
3BlackDot – a hybrid entertainment company with gamer and social-media-marketing roots and composed of video production, game development, online influencer and integrated marketing units – has officially come out of stealth mode this morning. Company principals include two former Machinima executives (Angelo Pullen and Luke Stepleton) and two prominent YouTube personalities (SeaNanners, aka Adam Montoya, and TheSyndicateProject, aka Tom Cassell).
As well, Stepleton’s older brother, former Duck Dynasty co-executive producer Hank Stepleton, will join the organization as partner and head of Pickaxe, the company’s video-content production company. The first Pickaxe project will be a live-action short based on Zombie Killer Squad, the mobile title developed by the company’s game unit and released last November to substantial success. The trailer for the short will be shown at San Diego Comic-Con this week, at a lounge 3BlackDot will be running for its online influencers and others.
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Before FX developed The Strain for its lineup, Guillermo del Toro says a broadcast network suggested developing it as a comedy. The Strain, based on the trilogy of novels by del Toro and Chuck Hogan, follows Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) as the NYC head of the Centers for Disease Control Canary Team, leading the effort to discover the root of a viral outbreak that seems to have killed all the passengers and crew of a Berlin-originated airplane that turns out to be a strain of vampirism.
Back in 2006, del Toro told TV critics this afternoon at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014, the project was sent around for possible development as a TV project. At that time he said, the the only way anybody envisioned vampires was “as a romantic conception of vampires — that sort of GQ version of vampires,” he said. But he was pitching a show in which vampires would be “truly revolting, physically and spiritually.” At one network, he said, he got asked, ” ‘Could you turn it into a comedy?’ I said ‘no’.”
Series exec producer Carlton Cuse, meanwhile, says that while there are horror elements to the show, he thinks of it much more as an adventure show, along the lines of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, he worked on in its development. “It’s not that scary — it’s not just a horror show,” Cuse insists of The Strain. “The material lent itself to a big pulpy engaging type of storytelling.” Read More »
“Fox and Warner are both pretty powerful companies today. … I don’t know how it changes much if they come together,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told analysts today when asked about Rupert Murdoch’s bid for the entertainment giant. The effort probably has “more to do with cable negotiations with sports.” CEO Reed Hastings added that he would offer “no speculation” about what Netflix might do if Fox and Time Warner agreed to merge. “The more we work directly with producers, the less we have to worry with aggregation and big content suppliers.”
Media Merger Mania: Fox’s Bid For Time Warner Is Just The Beginning
Time Warner Shares Soar On Reports Of $80B Offer By Rupert Murdoch
On other matters: Sarandos talked up Chelsea Handler’s upcoming late-night talk show, saying her focus on entertainment and pop culture will make it “a great representative of the kind of programming on Netflix.” A nightly show makes sense for a company known for binge viewing because viewers are “not watching late-night talk shows the way they used to. They’re watching days weeks and sometimes months later.” The show ”is not instantly perishable content. It’s more perishable, but the economics level that out for us.”
Related: Netflix Touts ‘Orange Is The New Black’ As Q2 Earnings Meet Expectations
Sarandos also says that Netflix will premiere the upcoming AMC series Better Call Saul outside of North America. He talked up the … Read More »
Shares are up about 2% in early post-market trading, though probably mostly due to subscriber gains — topping 50M streaming customers worldwide for the first time — rather than the financial results for Q2. Netflix generated $71M in net income, up from $29.5M in the period last year, on revenues of $1.34B, +25.4%. While the growth is impressive, it was also expected: Revenues came in just a little ahead of the $1.33B that analysts anticipated. Earnings at $1.15 a share were a penny shy of the consensus forecast.
Related: CBS Drama ‘The Zoo’ To Be Available On Netflix In 2015
But the company says it had 36.24M domestic streaming customers at the end of the quarter, up 570,000 from March, which it attributes to “our ever-improving content offering, including Orange Is The New Black Season 2.” Netflix expects an additional 1.33M in Q3. On the international side, streaming customers increased by 1.12M over the three-month period to 13.8M. But the company lost 342,000 DVD-by-mail customers, ending the quarter with 6.17M.
Related: Oscar-Nominated Film Now Aiming To WIN An Emmy For Netflix – How Is It Eligible For Both?
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The Square, a harrowing documentary about the Egyptian revolution as seen through the eyes of six of its participants, was Oscar-nominated in the 2013 Best Feature Documentary race. So how come it is suddenly a major contender at the Emmys too? Inquiries have come to our attention, including one calling for its withdrawal from Emmy competition, so I decided to check it out.
The film, which accounts for four of the impressive 31 Emmy nominations Netflix received this year, was picked up by the streaming service and qualified last year for the Oscar race with a seven-day run, according to the Television Academy, which has assured me they thoroughly examined this one. “The Square was not in general release prior to it TV appearance; rather, it qualified for the Oscars under the ‘one week NY-LA limited screening rule’ which would not have affected Emmy eligibility. Please know that we and the documentary peer group vetted the hell out of this one, and it’s good to Emmy go,” according to John Leverence, SVP Awards for the TV Academy. Read More »
Matthew Strauss isn’t a household name in Hollywood yet. But he should be, and possibly will be soon. As Comcast Cable’s GM of Video Services, Strauss oversees the cable colossus’ Xfinity cloud-based X1 platform, video on demand, TV Everywhere, and — starting last year — sales of digitally downloadable movies and TV shows (known as Electronic Sell Through). In other words, he leads the cable industry’s counter-offensive as digital services led by Netflix and ad-zapping DVRs make inroads with pay TV consumers.
Studios and networks are taking notice, and striking deals with Strauss that push the boundaries of technology, and traditional business practices. For example, Comcast and FX have just begun to let VOD customers watch episodes of The Bridge a week before they appear on the channel itself. Deadline caught up with Strauss to find out the latest about that experiment and others that could reshape the medium. Here are his thoughts, edited for length and clarity.
DEADLINE: VOD has been one of Comcast’s top initiatives. Where do things stand?
STRAUSS: I have a long history with VOD. I’ve been working on this for almost 13 years now. About 70% of our digital subscribers use on demand every single month, and by the end of this year we’ll have 200,000 hours of on-demand content available. We surpassed our 30 billionth program viewed on demand last year. So this is something that has gone from almost an infancy, novelty kind of product and now is deeply entrenched. For the first time we now have the top 100 rated Nielsen shows … Read More »
Morning Report, Monday July 21
'Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes' took the top spot at the box office again holding off a trio of newcomers, Netflix's second-quarter earnings come after the market closes today, kicking off earnings season, JJ Abrams' latest 'Star Wars' video hits the web just in time for Comic-Con's kickoff later this week. Dominic Patten reports.
Related: Box Office Weekend: ‘Apes’ No. 1′ With $36M In Soft Weekend
Fox has its Miracle Mop project Joy with Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell and now Sony Pictures’ has its Tupperware project. What’s next? Windshield wipers? Oh, wait, they made that movie already.
Sony acquired author Bob Kealing’s non-fiction book Tupperware Unsealed for Sandra Bullock to star as the marketer extraordinaire behind the launch of Tupperware and its famous parties that made the storage product a household name and into the multi-billion company it still is today. Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) will adapt, produce and direct this fun story about a divorcee from Detroit who convinced a plastics inventor to let her go crazy marketing a good product which, up until then, was getting little attention from consumers.
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Steven Pasquale has joined the cast of the upcoming sixth season of CBS’ The Good Wife. He is slated for a two-episode arc as Elfman, one of the top campaign managers in the country who Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) is trying to convince to run Alicia’s (Julianna Margulies) possible campaign. Pasquale, repped by ICM Partners and manager Emily Gerson Saines, was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his starring role in The Bridges Of Madison County on Broadway. He also has a recurring role on Netflix’s untitled psychological thriller drama from Damages creators Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler. The Good Wife returns to originals on September 21.
Ghostbusters‘ Ernie Hudson has booked a recurring role on Lifetime’s conspiracy thriller The Lottery. Produced by Warner Horizon, the 10-episode series is set in a dystopian future when women have stopped having children, threatening extinction of the human race. Mavrick Artists-repped Hudson will play Randall Mitchell, a former Attorney General who uses his access to get the truth about his son (August Richard). Hudson has appeared recently on Mob City, The Millers, and Rizzoli & Isles. The Lottery premieres on July 20.
“This is the program we know is going to be on the air for many, many years,” CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said of his network’s new Thursday NFL package, to TV critics he noted have slogged through about two weeks of Q&A’s for new TV series, almost all of which will die quick deaths — “even ours.”
“This, however, is a sure thing,” Moonves boasted at his Q&A session at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2014. “This is the single best product on television anywhere.”
That said, the deal is a one-year pact only, after which the NFL could take all that increased awareness CBS has ginned up for the franchise and slap it back on NFL Network exclusively. “We have not made a determination beyond one year,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said when asked this afternoon if he’d commit to more. “We made the decision knowing it’s a short term, for what we think is a long-term strategy to build Thursday night [for NFL]. We believe the awareness of Thursday football will go up significantly,” he said, stating the obvious.
“We knew going in this was a one-year deal,” Moonves jumped in. “It’s our job to show the NFL what we can do. And we’re confident they’re going to feel like CBS did a tremendous job; we’re confident after this year is over they’ll sit down and hopefully give us a longer deal than that,” he said. Read More »
It’s a foregone conclusion now that something big will happen with Time Warner. Its stock wouldn’t be up 20% since yesterday morning — when Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch‘s $80B June offer came to light – if investors thought that Time Warner’s rejection of it was the last word on the matter. Indeed, the stock closed today at $86.12, which means a lot of people are betting that Fox or someone else will top the $85 a share stock-and-cash proposal that Time Warner shunned.
But here’s the problem: Some of Wall Street’s top analysts don’t know who has the desire and wherewithal to wage a bidding war with Fox. If Time Warner seriously wants to escape Murdoch’s embrace, it might have to make a deal of its own — perhaps to buy CBS. Even if it did, “Time Warner would still have to make the argument that more value would be created by merging with CBS than by accepting Fox’s tender offer,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says.
What about other usual suspects who might covet Time Warner? Comcast and AT&T are out of the running as they pursue their acquisition deals with, respectively, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV. Here are others that might conceivably kick the tires:
Disney: Hard to find anyone who thinks the company will jump in. Disney doesn’t need a big deal, especially with a “clear strategy that should play out over the last two years of Bob Iger’s contract,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. The CEO likes properties that appeal to targeted audiences that he can coax to attend Disney … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Screenwriter and producer Ed Ricourt has signed with WME in all areas. Last summer the scribe enjoyed a hit with his first produced script, Summit’s magician caper Now You See Me, which Ricourt penned with Boaz Yakin sharing credits with Ed Solomon. The pic starred Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and Michael Caine and grossed $351M worldwide, spawning an upcoming sequel. Ricourt is currently a consulting producer on Netflix’s upcoming Marvel series AKA Jessica Jones, about an ex-superheroine who hangs up her costume to open her own detective agency. He’s also scripting graphic novel adaptation Anomaly for Relativity and Roth Films. Ricourt was previously at CAA. He’s additionally repped by Madhouse Entertainment and George Davis.
Gary Glasberg, executive producer/creator of CBS’ new drama NCIS: New Orleans, said at the new series’ TCA panel today that Rob Kerkovich (Cloverfield, The Rebound) will join the cast as a forensic scientist. Glasberg, who appeared on the panel with co-EPs Jeffrey Lieber and Mark Harmon and cast members Zoe McLellan, Scott Bakula, CCH Pounder and Lucas Black, said the series will begin shooting in New Orleans on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, CBS entertainment chief Nina Tassler called NCIS and its spinoffs a “billion-dollar franchise.” The newest member of the club was introduced as a planted spinoff via two episodes of NCIS earlier this year. Read More »
June Diane Raphael and Baron Vaughn have landed roles in Grace & Frankie, Netflix’s upcoming half-hour comedy toplined by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The 13-episode series, created by Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris (Sullivan & Son) and executive produced by Paula Weinstein through Skydance Prods, revolves around longtime nemeses Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin), whose lives are turned upside down when their husbands announce they are in love with each other and plan to get married. Read More »
Taking a cue from David Letterman, SAG-AFTRA has released a “Top Ten” list of reasons why its members should vote “yes” on the union’s just-negotiated film and TV contract. We’ve laid out the list here, with some heavy-handed editing for, ahem, excessive length, but all the words are theirs, not ours. What do you think about their list? Do you have your own list of reasons (yes or no) to back the contract?
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EXCLUSIVE: TV and film director Carl Franklin, who’s up for an Emmy for helming the Season 2 opener of Netflix drama House Of Cards, has signed with Paradigm. He won the Indie Spirit Award for helming 1992 crime pic One False Move from a script by Billy Bob Thornton; last week Franklin earned his first Emmy nod for Outstanding Direction for House Of Cards episode “Chapter 14.” He was most recently on ICM’s client roster. Read More »
“We’re in an arms race,” Public Knowledge CEO Gene Kimmelman told the Senate Commerce Committee at a hearing to explore the prospects for broadband video. It’s “no surprise, content companies bulk up” as Fox wants to do with its $80B bid for Time Warner, which was rejected by the company but disclosed today. Following Comcast’s deal to buy Time Warner Cable, and AT&T’s with DirecTV, “consumers are between a rock and a hard place….They started the ball rolling and as we’ve seen from today’s stories, we don’t know where it’s going to end.”
Representatives from Comcast and AT&T indirectly debated with execs from Dish Network, the WGA, and Kimmelman over whether online video providers have to fear mergers or need strong net neutrality rules. Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W Va) ended the proceedings by arguing for municipal broadband to provide a low-cost option for poor residents. He also said that he invited Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who declined to show. “I can’t figure [it] out because I’m trying to help them, I think. But he didn’t want to be here.”
Dish says that later this year it plans to introduce a low-priced online video service that will include live streams of ESPN, and could be threatened by the union of the two largest cable companies. “Comcast doesn’t necessarily want us to succeed because we’re competitors,” says the satellite company’s Deputy General Counsel Jeffrey Blum. “We are very concerned that a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable will have an incentive and ability to stifle our service.” Read More »