Check Out Our New Look

AMC Gives Pilot Order To Geopolitical Drama Set In Afghanistan From Chris Mundy & Tom Freston

By | Friday July 25, 2014 @ 10:47am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

AMC Gives Pilot Order To Geopolitical Drama Set In Afghanistan From Chris Mundy & Tom FrestonAMC continues to explore new places and genres with a pilot order to White City, a geopolitical drama focused on Western diplomats and journalists living in Afghanistan. An adventure story set in the somewhat surreal ex-pat world of near-present Afghanistan, White City was among the scripts vying for a pilot order at the network’s 2014 annual script showcase held in the spring. The show focuses on Jon Liston, a war junkie who has spent the better part of the last decade in Kabul with a front-row seat to the carnage. In the pilot, against the advice of everyone from American embassy staffers to tweeting tribal leaders to the French journalist he’s in a relationship with, Jon tragically overreaches in an attempt to talk with insurgent leaders. In the series, Jon must find a new role in Kabul as he attempts to address his guilt, frustration and doubts about whether there is good left for him or any Westerner to do in Afghanistan.

Related: 2014 AMC Pilots

mundytomfrestonThe project, produced by AMC Studios, comes from co-writers and co-executive producers Nick McDonell, a novelist (Twelve) and journalist who has covered Iraq and Afghanistan for TIME, and John Dempsey, former long-time resident of Kabul and senior advisor on Afghanistan to the late US diplomat, Richard C. Holbrooke. Executive producers are Chris Mundy, a former journalist for Rolling Stone and showrunner of Criminal Minds and AMC’s Low Read More »

Comments (7)

Does Time Warner Need CBS To Thwart A Fox Takeover?

Does Time Warner Need CBS To Thwart A Fox Takeover?Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has a problem. Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch is preparing to sweeten his offer for the owner of Warner Bros, CNN, and HBO after it rejected an $80B cash-and-stock proposal last month. And Bewkes, who says he wants to keep Time Warner independent, has few takeover defenses. What can he do? Here are a few of the leading options that Time Warner execs and their advisors at Citigroup are weighing.

Corporate And Media Leaders Attend Allen & Company Media And Technology Conf.Combine with CBS: This would make Time Warner toxic for Fox: The FCC would not allow Murdoch to control two of the four biggest networks, and two of the largest TV station groups with overlaps in the nation’s largest markets.

And the business logic of a Time Warner-CBS combination is compelling. CBS chief Les Moonves would like to diversify his company to make it less dependent on domestic TV advertising. (He has already said that he’d like to buy CNN if Fox prevails with Time Warner and puts the news channel on the block.) Moonves also has made it clear that he’d like to play a bigger role in movies — his CBS Films appears to be struggling to figure out its identity. CBS could address these concerns by blending with Time Warner’s cable channels and movie studio.

The chief obstacle is that CBS is controlled by Sumner Redstone, who also owns Viacom. He hasn’t wanted to give up either property, and some bankers believe he’d prefer to … Read More »

Comments (7)

Merger-Mania Could Depress Big Media Stocks: Analyst

By | Wednesday July 23, 2014 @ 8:23am PDT

Merger-Mania Could Depress Big Media Stocks: AnalystCowen and Co’s Doug Creutz advises investors today to “call a ‘time out’” on Big Media stocks in a break with the prevailing view on Wall Street that an upcoming round of mergers could help companies, or at least not hurt them. He fears that Fox’s bid for Time Warner will lead to “a land grab for content assets.” And companies that need cash for acquisitions probably won’t continue to repurchase shares and pay big dividends — strategies that have helped to keep investors interested in traditional media. The analyst says he now takes a ”more negative view” of Big Media, and downgraded Fox (to underperform from outperform), Viacom, and Time Warner (both to market perform from outperform). “Historically, this group has been uninvestable when M&A activity has been significant.”

Creutz observes that when Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch has had dealmaking on his mind “the shares of his company have underperformed the market.” And the analyst says he’s “not a believer that a combination with Time Warner would create significant value.”

It’s too risky to bet on traditional media, Creutz says, especially at a time when their stock prices are “near multi-year highs.” The advertising slow down in Q2 “feels like it was a little worse” than previous soft patches. It could become “a more significant negative” if the economy weakens. The pay TV cash cow could be threatened as “new over the top [Internet] distribution appears to be opening the door for insurgent content providers to potentially take market share.” And Creutz notes that the “dismal” … Read More »

Comments (1)

TVGN Taps CBS Exec Debra Wichser As CFO

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 10:00am PDT

TVGN Taps CBS Exec Debra Wichser As CFOTVGN has found a replacement for former chief financial officer Amy Thurlow, who took the CFO and COO gig at dick clark productions last week. Debra Wichser has been appointed CFO at TVGN, where she will oversee the cable network’s finance and accounting, financial planning and administration, human resources, engineering and operations, and facilities. She had been VP Corporate Development at CBS Corp. in New York; she is relocating to the network’s headquarters in LA and will report to TVGN President of Business Operations David Wisnia. Previously, Wichser worked at Viacom and in strategic analyst positions at 20th Century Fox and Disney.

Comments (1)

VH1′s ‘Dating Naked’ Delivers OK Debut, ‘Leann And Eddie’ Soft

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 1:45pm PDT

VH1′s ‘Dating Naked’ Delivers OK Debut, ‘Leann And Eddie’ SoftThe sayings are that sex sells and controversy gets coverage and certainly VH1 were betting on a bit of both with Naked Dating. To that end, last night’s 9 PM debut of the self explanitory reality series from Lighthearted Entertainment delivered – somewhat. The 1-hour Naked Dating had 826,000 total viewers with 480,000 among Adults 18-49. Not only was that 0.5 rating the best non-Monday premiere in the Viacom channel has had since Mob Wives launched on April 17, 2011 with a 0.9 but it saw huge leaps up from the last quarter.

vh1__140313203121-275x132__140329012648Naked Dating had a 150% increase among the demo and a 147% rise in total viewers over the same time period last quarter. Now granted, VH1 didn’t have any original programming on Thursday nights between March 29 and June 29, but triple digit rises are nothing to be scoffed at. Then again, Naked Dating’s debut was far far behind the January 6th Season 3 premiere of Single Ladies, which pulled in 2.6 million viewers that Monday. With its 11 PM encore, the Amy Paffrath-hosted Naked Dating had a total viewership of 1.289 million last night.

The rest of VH1’s new programming on VH1 might have wanted to strip down a bit to do better. Coming after the 551,000 who watched the debut of Candidly Nicole, the 10:30 premiere of Leann And Eddie was seen by a total 374,000 audience of 374,000. The former was up 51% from last quarter among the 18-49s with … Read More »

Comments (9)

Media Merger Mania: Fox’s Bid For Time Warner Is Just The Beginning (Video)

Media Merger Mania: Fox’s Bid For Time Warner Is Just The Beginning (Video)Rupert Murdoch’s $80B offer for Time Warner makes two things clear: The much anticipated round of content company merger mania is here — and likely will include Time Warner even though it rejected the proposal from Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. And virtually no deal idea is too big or outlandish. One major question at this point is whether a large digital company such as Google will seize the opportunity to buy a major content company. Giants such as Fox and Time Warner want to defend the pay TV status quo — the lucrative bundle that requires subscribers to buy channels they don’t watch. If they become more powerful, then it could slow efforts by Internet companies to claim a piece of the giant ad pie that goes to TV.

Content company stock prices today reflect their new popularity. In addition to Time Warner (+15.6% at mid-day) we see Discovery +6.6%, Viacom +4.3%, Lionsgate +3.7%, AMC Networks +3.4%, and Scripps Networks +3.4%. “The urgency to find a ‘dance partner” will increase across the sector,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says. “Nobody wants to be the company that gets left out of the consolidation wave, and companies would rather control their own destinies.” What’s more, every investment banker in the world now smells opportunities to collect millions in fees if they can propose and facilitate deals.

Time Warner has two things that make it especially attractive. Read More »

Comments (10)

UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – Recap

UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – RecapUPDATED, Monday, 4:56 PM: Saturday’s panel with Secretary of State John Kerry and interviewer Charlie Rose went off without a hitch after some technical problems the previous day, but listening about the conflicts in the Middle East was not as interesting to moguls (‘what else is new, it’s a mess over there’) as the panel that featured billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to some in attendance. Bezos, whose company Amazon has become a powerhouse in publishing and is creating its own content now, told the group gathered that the Amazon business model in publishing and creating content is here to stay. While the panels are always greatly attended, some of those who sat through the first few said they were a bit dry and boring, but “Buffet is always interesting to listen to,” said one attendee. Jeffrey_Katzenberg_118299588Said another, “All the networking is really done in the first day … unless you’re Jeffrey Katzenberg lining up meetings every hour.” Added another, “He sits there and does one meeting after another … he must have had like 20 meetings.” Yes, DreamWorks Animation’s Katzenberg was doing his ‘speed-dating’ meetings near the duck pond as usual which had some entertainment moguls laughing and others rolling their eyes (‘He has like what? One movie in the marketplace?’ Does he know how silly it looks?).

On Saturday, too, were presentations from the younger entreprenuers of Lookout, Xapo and Lending Club, which another attendee said he thought was fantastic (‘The guy from Lookout looked like he was 16 years old’). Also interesting to one attendee was the education panel with Eva Sarah Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and Kaya Henderson who is the D.C. school superintendent. “They were really good together and kept everyone’s interest.” That panel took place last Thursday.

The five-day Sun Valley retreat wrapped up last night with the annual dinner hosted by Herb Allen, whose aserbic wit and self-deprecating humor was enjoy by all. In reference to the panel earlier in the week that featured producer Brian Grazer and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein talking about the creative process, one attendee noted that “Brian really hit the mark on it. He was pitch perfect. If he did that same speech in showbiz circles it might not resonate but it did with most of people who were not in the business.’” One of the things that they both suggested was to listen to the voices in your head and get in touch with your instinct, which Allen use as a set up for a joke at the Sunday night dinner: “I have the voices in my head. I just don’t know what to do with them yet.” Until next year …

3RD UPDATE, FRIDAY, 2:50 PM: People actually enjoyed the Michael Bloomberg panel today at the H2013-07-11t154703z_2111664344_gm1e97b1tzw01_rtrmadp_3_sunvalley-conference_Fotorerb Allen Sun Valley conference as the 72-year-old answered questions from journalist Willow Bay, wife of Disney’s Robert Iger. The former mayor of New York whose fight for reasonable gun laws is well-documented, spoke about his philanthropy efforts and giving back to society. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the billionaire does just that in the areas of education, the arts, gun issues, governance and public health. He spoke about how dysfunctional the current U.S. system is politically and otherwise to get things done — no doubt as he personally saw what happened behind the scenes in Washington D.C. as politicians in the pocket of the NRA stymied efforts to get background checks on gun sales passed. Leave it to a politician — an orator and a former Eagle scout (hey, it’s no small task) — to wake up the moguls.

The second panel, which was supposed to feature Charlie Rose interviewing Secretary of State John Kerry piped in live from Afghanistan, went awry as the video feed didn’t work (they tried for about 15 minutes to get it up and running to no avail). That conversation, which was expected to be about how heavily the U.S. should be involved in the current explosive situation in the Middle East, will now take place tomorrow after journalist Becky Quick interviews Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos.

So they are attempting to fix the video feed for tomorrow, but let’s face it, if it doesn’t work, we doubt anyone will be upset as Kerry drones … on and on. Speaking of drones, there has been some attempt to make sure that drones don’t fly over the conference taking pictures, according to Bloomberg News. Ahhh, technology … the age of the paparazzi drone? If people are still awake after Kerry and Rose, a number of younger entrepreneurs will have their turn at bat.

Most all we spoke with don’t expect any major deals to go down at this conference. That Read More »

Comments 20

AT&T U-Verse Agrees To Carry EPIX

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 7:19am PDT

AT&T U-Verse Agrees To Carry EPIXAnother step forward for EPIX in its campaign to persuade pay TV distributors to add its suite of premium channels to their line-ups. Per usual, this morning’s release doesn’t disclose the deal terms for AT&T‘s agreement to offer its 5.7M TV customers EPIX, EPIX 2, EPIX 3 and EPIX Drive-In. The package will cost $8 a month following a free preview over the July 25 weekend. EPIX — which is owned by Viacom, Lionsgate, and MGM — trumpets its large library of movies. It says that its subs on AT&T will be able to stream more than 3,000 titles via EPIX.com, its EPIX App, EPIX VOD and live feeds of the channel on Uverse.com and the U-verse apps. AT&T “holds innovation and the consumer experience in the highest regard and we are very pleased to embark on this new relationship,” EPIX CEO Mark Greenberg says.

EPIX, introduced in 2009, has been making steady progress in winning over pay TV companies who initially stiff armed the service. Time Warner Cable picked it up in March, and Bright House agreed to do so in June. It still isn’t carried by Comcast and DirecTV, the biggest cable and satellite companies. But today’s deal with AT&T could change that: The telco plans to buy DirecTV.

Comments (1)

TCA: Matt Stone & Trey Parker Make Surprise Appearance, Hulu Gets Exclusive ‘South Park’ Stream

By | Saturday July 12, 2014 @ 3:18pm PDT

TCA: Matt Stone & Trey Parker Make Surprise Appearance, Hulu Gets Exclusive ‘South Park’ StreamHulu head of content Craig Erwich announced at TCA today that the streaming website was landing the exclusive steaming rights to South Park“.  Starting July 12, Hulu will stream all 244 episodes for free until September 24 when they switch to Hulu Plus.  South Park ranks in our top 10 shows each month and hits the sweet spot for our demo,” said Erwich, “We’ll have every season of the series.” The deal is between Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park Studios, a joint venture between Viacom and the South Park creators.

In a surprise appearance at the Hulu, Parker and Stone expounded on the news.  Said Stone, “We worked with the Viacom player a few years ago, and there would be glitches and bugs following the upload of South Park. However, Hulu was out of the gate fast and had a better player. We looked at their player with envy, and we always wanted to have the best possible platform for our show.”

Parker quipped about Hulu, “We wanted to rip off their technology.” Read More »

Comments (14)

Content Is King, But It Won’t Be For Long: Analyst

Content Is King, But It Won’t Be For Long: AnalystThis won’t go over well with the media moguls hobnobbing at the Allen & Co retreat in Sun Valley. But it’s the thesis behind the “neutral” rating that Barclays Capital’s Kannan Venkateshwar assigns to Big Media in his smart new 100-plus-page inaugural report on the industry. The major players – CBS, Discovery, Time Warner, Fox, Viacom, and Disney — make most of their profits from television. And although revenues in the field have grown over the last five years, “the source of this growth in most cases (with a few notable exceptions) has been through price inflation and an increase in the advertising inventory rather than a more sustainable growth in ratings,” he says. That spells trouble as Netflix, Amazon and others also produce content for the Web, and pay TV distributors including Comcast and DirecTV strike merger deals that make them stronger. They focus on shows and search engines — not networks and schedules. And as they forge stronger ties with subscribers, “traditional media companies get pushed further back into the value chain, further away from a direct relationship with the consumer.”
Read More »

Comments (7)

Cinelicious Pics, Adi Shankar Banking On “Tarantino Of Bollywood” With 5 1/2 Hour Crime Epic ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’

By | Monday July 7, 2014 @ 2:05pm PDT

Cinelicious Pics, Adi Shankar Banking On “Tarantino Of Bollywood” With 5 1/2 Hour Crime Epic ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’EXCLUSIVE: After launching in June, newbie indie/art house distributor Cinelicious Pics has struck a deal to bring acclaimed five-and-a-half-hour Bollywood new wave crime epic Gangs of Wasseypur to North America. The film is the latest from Anurag Kashyap (Black Friday, Dev D, Ugly, and Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna), the Indian filmmaker whose bullets ‘n’ blood-soaked saga has earned him a reputation as the Scorsese/Tarantino of Bollywood.

Kashyap co-wrote, produced, and directed the Godfather-esque pic tracking 70 violent years in the lives of two mafia families battling for control over the coal mining town of Wasseypur, based on the real-life gang wars between two families in the cash-strapped industrial region. Cinelicious will release the film this fall in NY and LA in two parts, to be presented stateside by film producer Adi Shankar (The Grey, Lone Survivor).

Gangs of WasseypurSo how does a neophyte specialty distributor strategize the release of a 319-minute foreign language picture? One of the film’s producers, Guneet Monga, produced The Lunchbox, the Irrfan Khan starrer that’s become the most successful foreign-language movie of 2014 in the States. Monga and Kashyap turned to Indian-born Shankar to help bring Gangs to the action-hungry U.S. audiences that connected with his R-rated actioners Dredd, Killing Them Softly, Machine Gun Preacher, and The Grey as well as the viral Marvel superhero fan videos Shankar has produced and released online. Shankar will boost the pic to his fan base online and at events like New York Comic-Con in October, where he’s scheduled to appear.

adi shankarGangs is such an important and monumental movie for my people – it marks our emergence as an international cinematic powerhouse,” said Shankar. “America has The Godfather, Korea has Oldboy, Japan has Battles Without Honor & Humanity, Hong Kong has Infernal Affairs, Brazil has City of God, and now India has Gangs of Wasseypur.” Read More »

Comments (2)

Netflix Lands Former Nickelodeon SVP Brian Wright

By | Monday July 7, 2014 @ 10:50am PDT

Netflix Lands Former Nickelodeon SVP Brian WrightEXCLUSIVE: He waited just over a month to make his next move and now Brian Wright is making his home at Netflix. The former Nickelodeon SVP of live-action development will lead the charge on original kids and family programming for the streaming service, I’ve learned. In his senior exec role, Wright will report to Cindy Holland, who is Netflix’s VP, Content Acquisition/Original Series. Wright’s new duties will see him overseeing exclusive live-action, animated and pre-school series for Netflix and Netflix Kids like DreamWorks Animation‘s Turbo FAST series.

BRIAN WRIGHT EXECAs my colleague Nellie Andreeva reported on May 27, Wright exited Nickelodeon that day after 7 years at the kid’s basic cable network. His exit came just four months after Nickelodeon upped head of casting Sarah Noonan to SVP Live Action Content, overseeing live-action development and production. Previous to joining the Viacom-owned Nickelodeon, Wright was at Lifetime as well as Greg Berlanti’s production company at WBTV.

Comments (12)

Media Stocks Join In Wall Street’s Fireworks Market

Media Stocks Join In Wall Street’s Fireworks MarketThe bull market that began in 2009 continued its stampede today in abbreviated trading ahead of Independence Day: The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.5% and crossed 17,000 for the first time following a strong June jobs report that showed the unemployment rate dropping to 6.1%, its lowest point since late 2008. Media companies joined in the rally. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index, up 0.7%, hit an all time high. So did Disney (+0.5%), Time Warner Cable (+0.7%), Charter (+0.3%), and Nielsen (+0.6%), while Time Warner (+0.7%) and Gannett (0.7%) touched 52-week highs.

Fox (+1.4%) led the Big Media pack followed by Discovery (+0.8%), Time Warner, Disney, Viacom (+0.2%), Comcast (+0.6%), and CBS (no change) while Sony dropped 0.5%. Read More »

Comments (0)

Overseas Appeal Of Sequels, Superheros And Animation Should Boost Big Media Stocks: Analyst

By | Wednesday July 2, 2014 @ 9:08am PDT

Overseas Appeal Of Sequels, Superheros And Animation Should Boost Big Media Stocks: AnalystBad news for those of you who are sick of Hollywood’s flood of sequels, superheros, and animated films. Nomura analyst Anthony DiClemente says we’re going to see a lot more of them — and that’s a good thing for studios. He raised his stock forecasts for Disney, Fox, and Time Warner this morning, arguing that their efforts to appeal to overseas audiences should enable them to profit as international box office receipts grow an average of 5.5% a year to $57.6B in 2022.

Disney, Fox, and Time Warner have “increasingly shifted film production towards genres that resonate well within these markets,” he says. Sequels accounted for 76 of the 107 top grossing films in the 10 largest markets over the last 12 years. The hot genres also tend to be the most profitable: The average animated film from 2004 to 2013 generated a gross margin of 52%, followed by action with 40% — well ahead of drama at 30% and comedy at 22%.
Read More »

Comments (1)

Media Stocks Beat Overall Market In Q2 As Charter Leads And WWE Lags

By | Monday June 30, 2014 @ 2:06pm PDT

Media Stocks Beat Overall Market In Q2 As Charter Leads And WWE LagsMedia investors did OK in Q2, as long as they diversified — or were lucky. The quarter ended today with the industry, as measured by the Dow Jones U.S. Media Index, up 6.5% from the end of March. That gave investors a slight edge over those who stuck with the Standard & Poors 500, which was up 4.7%. Big Media companies were evenly split above and below the benchmarks, but mostly just making up for their Q1 gains or losses. Fox led the pack this quarter with shares +9.9% (up from a 9.1% drop in Q1) followed by Time Warner (+7.5% vs -6.3% in Q1), Comcast (+7.3% vs -3.7%), and Disney (+7.1% vs +4.8%). They handily beat Viacom (+2.0% vs -2.7%), CBS (+0.6% vs -3.0%), Discovery (-10.2% vs -8.5%) and Sony (-12.3% vs +10.6%).

More broadly, Charter takes the prize as the top performing media company on our watch list with shares +28.6%, reversing a 9.9% drop in Q1. Investors warmed to the company after it cut a deal with Comcast to acquire and swap subscribers, virtually guaranteeing that Charter will become the No. 2 cable operator if the industry giant buys Time Warner Cable. Others up at least 20% in the quarter include Sinclair Broadcast Group (+28.3%, vs -24.2% in Q1), Netflix (+25.2%,vs -4.4%), Cinemark (+21.9%, vs -13%), and Apple (+21.2%, vs -4.3%).

But WWE, the media leader in early 2014, hit the mat as the Street soured on the company’s new online streaming channel that seems to compete with traditional TV. … Read More »

Comments (0)

Viacom Sued By Extra Injured On ‘World’s Worst Tenants’ Shoot

By | Tuesday June 24, 2014 @ 8:47pm PDT

Viacom Sued By Extra Injured On ‘World’s Worst Tenants’ ShootHere’s the latest legal action — at least the third in four months — involving the star of a reality show allegedly roughing up someone on the set. There was that slap fight on Lifetime’s Dance Moms, and the guy on Spike TV‘s Bar Rescue who went after a Vegas doctor. This time an extra on Spike’s World’s Worst Tenants is claiming assault and battery and negligence. Joshua Frager says he broke his collarbone after being shoved by series star Todd Howard, an ex-Marine who on the show is a “professional evictor, which is like a bouncer who stands guard at rental properties instead of nightclubs.” In his suit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), Frager names as defendants Viacom International, America’s Finest Television Corp, Zoo Production, Stevens and others (Spike is not among them). The plaintiff says that in January 2013, he was an extra in a Season 2 episode of Worst Tenants that was filming at Mount Waterman near Pasadena. Frager says he “was asked by Defendants through their agents/employees to fake a fall. Plaintiff is not a trained stunt person. During filming, the star of the show Howard forcefully pushed Plaintiff backwards to trigger the fall and as a result Plaintiff fell down the slope of the mountain on which the filming was taking place breaking his collar bone, injuring his arm and suffering other injuries to his person including soft-tissue injuries, bruising and lacerations.” Read More »

Comments (5)

Will A Federal Court Clear The Way For Unbundled Pay TV?

By | Monday June 23, 2014 @ 11:34am PDT

Will A Federal Court Clear The Way For Unbundled Pay TV?Investors and consumer groups will be watching for just such a possibility following U.S. District Court decision Friday to let Cablevision pursue an antitrust claim against Viacom. More than a year ago the cable company charged that it was improperly forced to carry 14 channels it didn’t want (including Palladia and Tr3s) in order to offer eight that it did. Viacom asked the court to dismiss the complaint, saying that Cablevision failed to make a prima facie case that its bundles violated antitrust law. But Judge Laura Swain said there were enough facts to “support plausibly an inference of anticompetitive effects.” Although far from a definitive ruling, the decision to let the case proceed “was not a given, so it was a victory for Cablevision,” Guggenheim Partners’ Paul Gallant says today.

Cablevision logoIf Cablevision prevails, the case could rock Big Media. Most of the top content companies’ business models depend on their ability to require pay TV distributors and their customers to pay for channels they don’t want. If the court says that’s illegal, then “that could feed into the nascent Telecom Act rewrite — or perhaps a narrower bill updating the 1992 Cable Act —  in an unwelcome way for content companies,” Gallant says.

But the case could take more than a year to approach a verdict. Viacom appears ready to fight: Cablevision wants to “renege on a long-term business agreement, using arguments directly contrary to positions it has taken in other cases and to its own business practices,” the … Read More »

Comments (4)

EMMYS: ‘Tanning Of America’s Steve Stoute On Norman Lear’s Influence & Hip-Hop’s Reach

By | Thursday June 19, 2014 @ 12:42pm PDT

EMMYS: ‘Tanning Of America’s Steve Stoute On Norman Lear’s Influence & Hip-Hop’s ReachThere have been a lot of hip hop documentaries over the years but few have been as extensive and with such a variety of interviewees as The Tanning Of America: One Nation Under Hip-Hop. Shown in four hourlong parts on VH1 earlier this year, the docu from former music industry exec and marketing man Steve Stoute is truly a wide ranging and deep cuts examination of a culture and how a genre that originated in the Bronx in the 70s has come to influence American life more than musically. A producer on 2013’s Ron Howard-helmed docu Made In America, Stoute reached into his extensive network for Tanning to get not just the director plus Dr. Dre, Russell Simmons, Mariah Carey, Jimmy Iovine, Rick Rubin, Brian Grazer, Fab 5 Freddy and Norman Lear among others on camera. Hosted by Stoute and based on his 2011 book of the same name, the Billy Corben directed docu with narration by Scandal’s Kerry Washington mixed in the high profile interviews with comprehensive footage tracking the evolution of hip hop. An evolution that brought down racial barriers in America and helped elect a President, says the EP.

DEADLINE: Steve, you’re a busy guy. Why add a documentary series to the workload? And not just a documentary but a 4-hour, 4-part documentary.
STEVE STOUTE: Well, you know, Dominic, what happened was, when I wrote the book, I was inspired by the response that I’ve gotten from a lot of my peers in … Read More »

Comments (0)

Twitter SEEiT Feature Connects Tweets, TV Shows

By | Sunday June 15, 2014 @ 2:19pm PDT

Twitter logoTwitter lights up during big TV events such as the Super Bowl, Olympics and the Oscars, but can the social-media platform deliver users directly to the tube? Comcast and Twitter are betting it can with SEEiT, a button embedded in tweets that actually can change the channel from a user’s smartphone or tablet or set a DVR to record a show. The platform works with shows from ABC, A&E, AMC, Fox, NBC and others as well as set-top boxes from Comcast, Cablevision, Charter and Time Warner Cable.  “If you’re between 13 and 24, (social media) is probably the primary way you’re discovering things,” says Erik Flannigan, executive VP of multiplatform strategy and development for the Viacom Entertainment Group. That’s why Flannigan considers initiatives such as SEEiT to be “the tip of an iceberg.”

Comcast logoProgrammers are intrigued: Nearly half of viewers under 30 use computers, smartphones or tablets to visit social networks during their TV time, research from Deloitte recently reported. A separate study from the Council for Research Excellence found that viewers of specials, sci-fi shows, sports and movies are especially eager to simultaneously chat online with others. “TV networks fully understand, top to bottom, that their mission is to deliver that (social media experience) to you in a relationship that’s 24/7/365, and it … Read More »

Comments (1)
More Deadline | Hollywood »