The companies finally put a date on the agreement made in December for the No. 2 cable operator to offer the premium service which has been struggling to expand its distribution. Time Warner Cable will help to generate some buzz by offering its digital video customers a three-month free trial of Epix, Epix 2, Epix 3, and Epix Drive-in. Epix will be available in standard and high definition, while Epix Drive-In will be only in SD. In addition to the linear channels, TWC will offer Epix programming on VOD and will stream content to the service’s app. “This is yet another way of showing that we appreciate our customers’ loyalty and are consistently working hard to provide even more value to their service,” says TWC’s Jeffrey Hirsch. The cable company is eager to slow, and possibly reverse, the decline in its video subscriptions. Meanwhile Epix — owned by Viacom, Lionsgate and MGM — sees the deal as an opportunity to build momentum for additional deals, possibly including with Comcast, which plans to buy TWC, and DirecTV. Read More »
The companies got into trouble after they ran ads for FilmDistrict‘s 2013 thriller Olympus Has Fallen that include the distinctive Emergency Alert System warning sounds, the FCC says today as it proposed what it calls the largest ever penalties for its misuse (watch the ad below). Viacom will be hit hardest with a $1.12M fine for airing the ad 108 times over five days on Spike, VH1, MTV, Comedy Central, MTV2, Centric, and BET. NBCUniversal will have to cough up $530,000 for running the ad 38 times over six days on Syfy, USA, and five regional sports networks. And ESPN follows with $280,000 for running the ad 13 times over four days on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNEWS. “The FCC has long prohibited the transmission of actual or simulated EAS Attention Signals or tones in circumstances other than a real alert or an authorized test of the EAS system,” the FCC says. The cable companies said that the rules don’t apply to them because they don’t participate in the EAS program, the FCC notice notes. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Steve Youngwood, EVP and General Manager of Digital for Nickelodeon, is leaving the company. The 14-year Nick veteran announced his departure in an internal memo to the staff today. Youngwood has led and managed the network’s digital content businesses and operations since 2006. His oversight included Nick.com, NickJr.com as well as gaming, publishing, and video across all retail and digital platforms. He also oversaw the acquisition and integration of several companies, including Neopets, AddictingGames, Shockwave, and Babunga. Youngwood previously was SVP Media Products for Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products and before that was in the Corporate Business Development and Strategy Group. His departure follows last month’s exit of two other high-ranking Nick veterans, EVP Paula Kaplan and SVP Sal Maniaci.
Vice Media, FremantleMedia Team On Food Platform
Vice Media and FremantleMedia are teaming to create a create a multi-channel food platform aimed at a millennial audience. The companies will develop and produce digital content for the yet-unnamed Vice food vertical, which FremantleMedia will take to TV around the world. The venture will offer original video content, editorial features, articles, how-tos, recipes and events, providing a perspective on the intersection where humans and food connect. Recurring franchises will focus on subjects ranging from the politics of food to world travel and cuisine to an irreverent look at home cooking. Content will be available on multiple platforms, including Vice.com, Noisey and Motherboard. Read More »
MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says they will, calling for AMC Networks and Scripps Networks to join bigger partners — and Viacom and CBS to reunite. By his calculations, if Comcast and Time Warner Cable merge, then TWC’s programming costs could drop by 15% — a cut of $500M a year from its outlays for broadcast and pay TV channels. That could be seen as good for consumers if Comcast can cast the change as a brake on rising monthly rates. But programmers would have to revise their financial plans which count on steady annual price increases. Broadcasters in particular likely would “howl in protest…while simultaneously attempting to further consolidate on their own (a headache the FCC doesn’t need),” says Craig Moffett, a colleague at the firm that bears the analysts’ names. Nathanson says broadcasters who might be hit hardest by Comcast’s growing clout are ABC stations, Nexstar, Media General, LIN TV and Hearst. More broadly, though, “scale is increasingly becoming more important in securing higher affiliates fees,” he says. Disney, Fox and NBCU likely will account for about two-thirds of increases in distributor payments from 2013 to 2015. That could “force those with more limited scale to reconsider their M&A options.” Two independent networks, Bloomberg TV and Tennis Channel, asked the FCC for help when they believed that Comcast treated them unfairly. Comcast denied both charges. CBS chief Les Moonves, speaking to CNBC … Read More »
Folks in the movie business sometimes argue with me when I tell them that the most powerful executive in Hollywood lives in Philadelphia. But that debate should end if Brian Roberts’ Comcast buys Time Warner Cable. With 30M cable TV subscribers, the colossus based in the City of Brotherly Love would have incalculable power to influence Big Media and entertainment generally. Here are a few potential flash points:
Related: Comcast Announces Agreement To Pay $45.2B In Stock For TWC
Home video sales. Comcast recently became an important ally for studios that want to sell downloads of movies and TV shows (called EST, for electronic sell-through), their best hope to revive a business that has struggled as consumers lost interest in DVDs. Internet services such as Amazon and Apple’s iTunes were fine. But Comcast stunned some studio execs late last year when it began to sell EST movies and TV shows to its cable subscribers and beat iTunes and Amazon in sales of Universal’s Despicable Me 2. “In the first 2 months of their service, relying only on the content of three studios, including Lionsgate, Comcast has captured 15% of the EST market and expanded the business,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said last week. He added that “there are ongoing conversations with other [pay TV providers]. You will see them enter the EST space. It’s been too … Read More »
UPDATE: 7:01 PM: Michelle Obama could have turned to the guy seated next to her at the head table during tonight’s White House State Dinner and asked if he’s heard any good jokes lately. That would be none other than The Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert. Could it be that French-sounding surname earned him some juice with the protocol folks? Meanwhile, according to the White House pool report, Bradley Cooper was seen chatting with Secretary of State John Kerry, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus was asked her what her favorite part of the dinner was. “Look who I’m sitting next to,” she said, pointing to Vice President Joe Biden. The real veep swiftly jumped in with: “Hey, stop screwin’ around, she’s my date!” He promptly burst out laughing and said, “Just kidding.” Meanwhile, Mindy Kaling was tweeting and Instagraming her evening.
PREVIOUSLY: We knew a good grasp of French would come in handy for Bradley Cooper one day. The American Hustle actor will be one of the many Hollywood guests attending the State Dinner tonight at the White House that President Obama and the First Lady are hosting for French President Francois Hollande. Among the cabinet members and government officials joining the sparkling gathering on the South Lawn will also be CNN chief Jeff Zucker, HBO’s Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, HBO CEO Richard Plepler, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, and Star Wars director JJ Abrams and … Read More »
“There’s been more talk than action,” Jeff Bewkes told analysts this morning when asked about plans by Sony and Verizon — and possibly others — to offer an Internet service with traditional cable channels. Time Warner is “not philosophically opposed” to them. “We just haven’t seen anyone come up with a viable, powerful consumer offering yet.” Sony and Verizon might find it hard to change his mind. The Time Warner chief says he doesn’t want to “make a little money there” if he believes it will “cannibalize something else.” That condition’s important: Programmers fear that many subscribers might cut the cord with traditional pay TV services if offered an opportunity to pay less for fewer channels. For example, people who don’t watch sports would be ripe targets for an online offering that didn’t require them to subsidize ESPN and costly regional sports networks. Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, who doesn’t have a big investment in sports, is much more enthusiastic than Bewkes is in Internet pay TV. “Based on a variety of discussions that we’re having, I do believe that there’ll be at least one [service] commencing operations in 2014,” he said last week. That’s “a good opportunity for us to enter into a new relationships with emerging distributors to add to our stable of the existing ones.”
Time Warner Raises Dividend As Q4 Earnings Beat Expectations
Disappointing data about factory performance added to investor concerns about prospects for the economy as the Federal Reserve pulls back on its stimulus efforts. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell 2.7% today — ahead of a 2.3% drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 and 2.1% slide in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. All but a handful of the companies we track lost ground. CBS was hardest hit among Big Media, with shares off 4.1%. It was followed by Viacom (-4.0%), Disney (-3.6%), Sony (-3.2%), Comcast (-3.1%), Fox (-3.0%), News Corp (-2.8%), Discovery (-2.2%), and Time Warner (-2.1%). In the broader media universe, companies licking their wounds today include DreamWorks Animation (-7.4%), Lionsgate (-5.6%), IMAX (-5.4%), Starz (-5.3%), and AMC Networks (-4.7%). The few gainers include Cinedigm (+4.6%, touching a multiyear high during the day), AOL (+1.7%), Time Warner Cable (+0.6), and Apple (+0.2%).
In this week’s podcast, Deadline’s executive editor David Lieberman and host David Bloom catch up on the many highlights from earnings season announcements, beginning with those by possible dance partners Comcast and Time Warner Cable and what their news might mean for Comcast’s takeover bid. They also take the market temperature on Viacom and tech giants led by Google — which sold off its Motorola Mobility unit after owning it just two years — and Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and Amazon. They also look at exhibitors’ demands for shorter movie trailers and whether studios will play along.
Listen to the podcast in your choice of audio formats here:
Deadline Big Media podcast 70 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Big Media podcast 70 (.M4A version)
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Dogwoof Closes Slew Of Deals For ‘Blackfish’ Documentary
Sales outfit Dogwoof has closed a multi-territory deal with Universal Pictures International Entertainment on 2013 Sundance documentary Blackfish. The territories include Asia, Italy, Portugal, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, Scandinavia and Latin America. Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the film tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale who killed several people while in captivity. The controversial and popular film was shortlisted in the Oscar documentary category and has a BAFTA nomination this year. Other territories sold by Dogwoof include German- and French-speaking Europe, Spain, The Netherlands, and a multi-territory deal with Netflix.
Tinie Tempah-Laura Mvula Duet Will Open BAFTA Awards
For this year’s musical opening, the BAFTA Awards on February 16 will kick off with a duet by multiplatinum-selling English rapper Tinie Tempah and English soul singer Laura Mvula. The pair will sing the track “Heroes,” which appears on Tempah’s album Demonstration. Not to be confused with the classic David Bowie song, the refrain incorporates the lyrics, “Here everyone’s a hero/We all got a second chance.” (Heroes are popular this year: two weeks after the BAFTAs, the Oscars will honor big-screen real-life heroes, super heroes, popular heroes and animated heroes, both past and present.) In previous years, the likes of Paloma Faith and Tom Jones have performed ahead of the BAFTA ceremony. Read More »
Things are going downhill already just days before the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers are set to start negotiating a new 3-year contract. In an almost bizarre move, the producers allegedly told the WGA last week that they want “60 million dollars in rollbacks for writers, 32 million of that coming from our health plan,” according to an email sent out to WGA members today. “But it doesn’t stop there. Other proposals targeted screenplay minimums (11 million dollar rollback), TV residuals, and our Pension Plan,” adds the correspondence from WGA negotiating committee co-chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray. “These proposed rollbacks for writers come at a time of unprecedented prosperity for the studios,” say Johannessen and Ray. “The collective profits of our 6 major bargaining partners (Disney, CBS, Comcast, Fox, Time Warner and Viacom) just hit a record $40 billion. This prosperity is based on our work, we are the creative force driving it. Are $60 million in rollbacks a just reward?” The letter to members adds that they were “surprised” by the opening proposals. That would be putting it mildly.
WGA West Rejects MPPA “Unreasonable” Approach To Copyright Infringement
AMPTP Respond To WGA West Plan To Go After Deadbeat Producers
The WGA and AMPTP are scheduled to sit down on February 3 at the producers group HQ in Sherman Oaks. With today’s letter, what many expected to be relatively smooth discussions akin … Read More »
Paramount‘s recently relaunched TV division has signed one of its first major development deals — a pact with Hustle & Flow filmmaker Craig Brewer to write, direct and executive produce two drama pilots. The TV collaboration expands on Brewer and Paramount’s long-standing relationship on the feature side which includes Hustle & Flow (2005), the remake of Footloose (2011), the biopic Katy Perry: Part Of Me (2012), and the upcoming adaptation Gangster Princess Of Beverly Hills. “Craig’s ability to capture and authentically portray different cultural moments in time through his characters, narratives and singular musical taste make him one of the most inspired storytellers of this generation,” said Paramount TV president Amy Powell. The company announced its first project in November, a series adaptation of the hit 1990 Paramount feature Ghost, which will be written by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner. Brewer is with WME and Carlos Goodman.
It wasn’t a quarter for the record books, but could have been worse. Viacom says this morning that net income improved 16.3% to $557M in the last three months of 2013 on revenues of $3.2B, -3.5%. The top line missed analyst expectations for $3.3B. Earnings from continuing operations, at $1.20 a share, were a penny ahead of forecasts. At the main Media Networks business, revenues increased 6.1% to $2.5B and operating income was up 8.2% to $1.1B. Most of the growth came from the 10% jump in fees paid by pay TV distributors, the result of rate increases. Ad sales were up 3% in the U.S. and 4% worldwide to $1.3B. But much of that was offset by Filmed Entertainment. Revenues fell 30.2% to $681M with an operating loss of $74M, a 47% improvement from the $139M loss in the period last year. Paramount had fewer releases contributing to a 52% drop in theatrical revenues, and 37% decline in home entertainment. But that also lowered the division’s costs. CEO Philippe Dauman says that the company benefited from investments in content and “our ongoing financial discipline.” He adds that with recent releases including Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Nebraska, and Wolf Of Wall Street “Paramount is off to a strong start as the studio continues building its animation and television production capabilities alongside … Read More »
The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index fell nearly 2% today as Wall Street dealt with the biggest single-day stock selloff it has seen since June. The benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 2.1% as investors bailed out of stocks and currencies from emerging markets including China, South Africa, and Turkey. All Big Media companies lost ground today with Disney (-2.8%) followed by Viacom (-2.5%), CBS (-2.2%), News Corp (-2.2%), Time Warner (-2.0%), Fox (-1.5%), Discovery (-1.4%), Comcast (-1.3%), and Sony (-0.4%). In the broader group of companies that we track, big losers included New York Times (-5.5%), DreamWorks Animation (-4.3%), Best Buy (-4.0%), Facebook (-3.9%), Yahoo (-3.8%), Google (-3.2%), and Pandora (-3.2%). Only a handful of companies advanced including SFX Entertainment (+2.7%), RealD (+0.8%), and Regal Entertainment (+0.5%). Two stocks that have been rising of late touched new 52-week highs during the day: AMC Entertainment (which closed +0.5%) and World Wrestling Entertainment (+0.4%).
Philippe Dauman had a good 2013, and this year should be even better with a pay raise that became effective on January 1, Viacom says in its proxy just filed at the SEC. Most shareholders likely won’t complain: Viacom stock appreciated nearly 56% in the fiscal year that ended in September. His package consisted of: $3.5M in salary, $9.1M in annual stock awards, $1.3M in one-time stock awards, $6.0M in option awards, $16.9M in non-equity incentives, and $407,403 in other compensation. His perquisites included $370,430 for personal use of the Viacom aircraft, and $16,303 for a car service. Beginning in 2014, his salary was raised to $4M. As of last October 1 his target bonus was increased to $15M. The board noted that Viacom’s “fiscal year 2013 results were solid, with our fourth quarter adjusted operating income and adjusted diluted earnings per share reaching record levels. In particular, our strategic focus on content allowed us to return ratings momentum, particularly at our flagship networks Nickelodeon and MTV.” It specifically cited Dauman and COO Thomas Dooley for directing the company’s “significant investment in content creation, concluding favorable affiliation arrangements in both traditional and digital distribution, driving ad sales, strengthening our international operations and focusing our motion picture operations, in each case while maintaining cost discipline and enhancing our operating leverage.” Executive Chairman Sumner Redstone landed the biggest raise in 2013: His compensation was up 77.3% to $36.2M including $26M attributed … Read More »
Dick Clark Productions International will focus on creating and expanding dcp‘s overseas distribution network while also acquiring, financing and creating new shows. Former dcp exec Mark Rafalowski has been tapped as EVP of the new division and will be based in the company’s Santa Monica headquarters reporting to dcp president Mike Mahan. Current dcp shows The American Music Awards, Hollywood Film Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest will be distributed by the new unit. Also in that group are two shows dcp is producing for the first time this year: The Billboard Music Awards and The People Magazine Awards. ”With the ever-increasing global consumption of TV content and dick clark productions’ strategic growth trajectory, it is a perfect time to join the team under the superior leadership of Allen Shapiro and Mike Mahan,” Rafalowski said. “International distribution gives us the ability to develop and grow all areas of the television business from reality and scripted to formats and acquisitions. We look forward to building on our current relationships and actively growing the business internationally.”
Related: CBS Inks Deal With Dick Clark Prods. To Televise Hollywood Film Awards Read More »